International network impacts Arctic research and monitoring

An EU-funded infrastructure project is enhancing international cooperation for research and monitoring in the Arctic. This is providing a better understanding of environmental change, and how to adapt to it.

Countries
Countries
  Algeria
  Argentina
  Australia
  Austria
  Bangladesh
  Belarus
  Belgium
  Benin
  Bolivia
  Bosnia and Herzegovina
  Brazil
  Bulgaria
  Burkina Faso
  Cambodia
  Cameroon
  Canada
  Cape Verde
  Chile
  China
  Colombia
  Costa Rica
  Croatia
  Cyprus
  Czechia
  Denmark
  Ecuador
  Egypt
  Estonia
  Ethiopia
  Faroe Islands
  Finland
  France
  French Polynesia
  Georgia

Countries
Countries
  Algeria
  Argentina
  Australia
  Austria
  Bangladesh
  Belarus
  Belgium
  Benin
  Bolivia
  Bosnia and Herzegovina
  Brazil
  Bulgaria
  Burkina Faso
  Cambodia
  Cameroon
  Canada
  Cape Verde
  Chile
  China
  Colombia
  Costa Rica
  Croatia
  Cyprus
  Czechia
  Denmark
  Ecuador
  Egypt
  Estonia
  Ethiopia
  Faroe Islands
  Finland
  France
  French Polynesia
  Georgia


  Infocentre

Published: 30 November 2018  
Related theme(s) and subtheme(s)
EnvironmentBiodiversity  |  Climate & global change  |  Earth Observation  |  Ecosystems, incl. land, inland waters, marine  |  Land management
International cooperation
Research infrastructures
Research policyHorizon 2020
SpaceTeledetection
Countries involved in the project described in the article
Austria  |  Belgium  |  Canada  |  Czechia  |  Denmark  |  Faroe Islands  |  Finland  |  Germany  |  Greenland  |  Iceland  |  Italy  |  Netherlands  |  Norway  |  Poland  |  Russia  |  United Kingdom  |  United States
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International network impacts Arctic research and monitoring

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© #183975637 | Author: Sergey - fotolia.com, 2018

The Arctic is warming faster than the rest of the world. This will have huge effects on the region, with global implications. Decreasing sea ice is opening up shipping routes, melting glaciers are contributing to global sea-level rise, and thawing permafrost is releasing additional greenhouse gases into our atmosphere. It is vital to have an accurate overview of these ongoing changes, to help people adapt to a changing world.

The EU-funded infrastructure project INTERACT is building capacity for identifying, understanding, predicting and responding to diverse environmental changes in the Arctic and adjoining regions, within an international network of research stations. It is providing environmental data on the Arctic of global relevance.

‘INTERACT is the first network to provide pan-Arctic transnational access to ensure that environmental change from all over the Arctic can be monitored. Thanks to EU funds, it has grown from a network of 9 research stations in 2001 to 83 in 2018,’ says project coordinator Margareta Johansson, of Lund University in Sweden.

‘Through INTERACT’s “transnational access” scheme, we have put more than 650 scientists into the field, in all Arctic countries,’ she explains, ‘The visits have resulted in new environmental data in many different disciplines and important new scientific findings.’

In addition to filling important knowledge gaps, the project team is enhancing accessibility to data, reducing emissions from research stations that are often in remote and environmentally sensitive areas, monitoring biodiversity, developing disaster protocols, and working with local communities to help them adapt to predicted change.

Action stations

INTERACT station managers and researchers have established international partnerships to improve the networks of sensors that measure environmental change, as well as enhancing data storage and accessibility. They have also pioneered the use of drones and other new technologies to improve the safety and efficiency of fieldwork in often harsh and dangerous conditions.

In the past, a number of Arctic monitoring stations with important datasets, some going back centuries, did not have modern data management plans. Now they are all part of the INTERACT network, with monitoring data becoming more standardised, comparable and accessible to researchers from all around the Arctic region.

The project has the potential to contribute data to ensure a rapid response to threats, such as nuclear disasters or severe pest outbreaks. ‘We are currently developing protocols for observation, sample collection, analysis and communication to ensure that we can act quickly to provide an update on the extension of hazards in the Arctic,’ says Johansson. ‘This provides an essential service to local communities, national governments and international agencies.’

According to the project coordinator, ‘Many INTERACT stations are located close to a village and we want to ensure that we work with local communities and indigenous peoples to help them adapt to future changes. Our project has three test cases running, one in Greenland with a fishing community, one in Scandinavia with a reindeer community, and one in Siberia with a forest community.

Science diplomacy

INTERACT operates in all Arctic countries, and adjacent alpine and forest areas, in Europe, Russia and North America, thereby making a valuable contribution to science diplomacy. ‘This has received attention and support from various government embassies and has improved relationships between Russian and Western researchers and infrastructures,’ says Johansson.

The multidisciplinary project has provided new opportunities for researchers to travel to new countries and work in remote locations that are difficult to access, in fields such as glaciology, climatology and ecology. In turn, the enhanced exchange of knowledge and experience has benefitted the host research stations.

Finally, by developing educational materials and reaching out to young people in schools and universities, the project is also encouraging and recruiting the next generation of environmental scientists.

Project details

  • Project acronym: INTERACT
  • Participants: Sweden (Coordinator), UK, Denmark, Finland, Italy, Germany, Norway, Russia, Czechia, Greenland, Poland, Austria, Faeroe Islands, Iceland, Canada, United States, Netherlands, Belgium
  • Project N°: 730938
  • Total costs: € 10 000 000
  • EU contribution: € 10 000 000
  • Duration: September October 2016 to September 2020

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