The gateway to the High Arctic is opening, as ice-free areas and seasons expand. The Arctic and its natural resources are becoming more readily accessible. Users and stakeholders from geopolitics to conservation, and whose interests include protection, research, fisheries, shipping, oil and gas exploration and tourism are following the changes with great interest.
A changing Arctic ecosystem, climate and environment, is positioning the region as an arena for economic expansion.
The Arctic is warming at a rate of almost twice the global average. The projected changes in the Arctic ecosystem, climate and environment, are expected to increase the human presence and commercial activities in the northern Barents Sea. The Barents Sea hosts Norway’s richest commercial fisheries and contains unexplored petroleum and mineral resources. This area also house an ecosystem that experience multiple stressors from a changing climate and increased human impact. These issues have generated considerable scientific and political discussion of broad societal relevance, including a) the potential expansion of commercial fisheries further into the northern Barents Sea and the Arctic Ocean, b) the extent of hydrocarbon exploration based on the Norwegian government’s regulatory definition of the ice edge, and c) the future predictability of climate variability and the movement of sea ice. The Nansen Legacy constitutes a collective Norwegian Arctic research platform to provide holistic scientific knowledge of the climate and ecosystem of the northern Barents Sea. The Nansen Legacy supports the knowledge base required for sustainable management of the environment and marine resources of the Barents Sea and adjacent Arctic Basin through the 21st century.
What is the interplay of physical and atmospheric processes, human impacts and ecosystems during a time of major change?
The Nansen Legacy team is purposefully interdisciplinary including physical, chemical, and biological researchers from eight core Norwegian institutions, and two research institutes. The institutions include universities, management oriented institutions, the national weather service, and research institutes with close collaboration with industrial partners. The joint effort offers a human capacity of 3590 person months, corresponding to 50 full time positions of dedicated scientists and support staff over a 6-year period. Moreover, the Nansen Legacy field component uses a combination of ship-based, moored, and autonomous technological platforms. The Nansen Legacy dispenses over 370 days of ship time, primarily on the newly launched Norwegian ice-going research vessel, Kronprins Haakon, which allows for collecting unique, synoptic and interdisciplinary seasonal and inter-annual time series data. Development, testing and application of novel advanced technologies in ice-covered regions will increase high-resolution observational capabilities leading to an increase in future forecast reliability.
The Nansen Legacy responds to strategic white papers nationally and internationally, builds on and extends exciting science capabilities, and is at the same time rooted in stakeholder needs.
The Nansen Legacy is designed to meet stakeholder needs, by addressing central knowledge gaps identified and given priority in the Norwegian Government’s updated Management plan. The Nansen Legacy establishes a holistic “ground truth” for the environment and ecosystem of the northern Barents Sea and adjacent Arctic Ocean. It provides a 2020–2100 outlook for the expected state of climate, sea ice, and ecosystem, including near-term predictions. Further, the Nansen Legacy addresses the key issue of the sensitivity and functionality of early-warning indicators used to detect change in marine resources and responses to human impacts. The research by the Nansen Legacy will enhance reliable polar weather forecasts for the safety of people and commercial operations.
To be able to meet all perceptions, interests and discourses, the Nansen Legacy elicits input from a variety of stakeholders, as well as their advice on how to make available the knowledge/data/models to end-users. The mandate of the Nansen Legacy User and Stakeholder group, includes advising the project board and leader group and engaging in dialogue with researchers on the application of new knowledge for decision-making on the basis of the present state and future trends in the northern Barents Sea and the Arctic Basin.
How will the world map look when human activities change in the Arctic due to climate change and globalization?