Pan European Networks - Horizon 2020 - page 154

the help of regulation and other kinds
of management.”
The speaker added that “pressure still exists”
for some sensitive species inside the Arctic.
“We know the least about many of the
organisms that are most important in the
ecosystem of the Arctic, so there’s a big deficit
in knowledge … compared to other regions of
the world.”
Climate change
The effects of global warming have had a
particular impact on the Arctic environment.
Meltofte told delegates that “climate change is
by far the most serious threat to biodiversity”
and that there is “an immediate need” to take
action. He said he hoped world leaders would
take such steps, though he commented that
global temperature increases “have a double
effect in the Arctic”.
“Everyone who has been on skis in snow will
know how efficiently light is mirrored from snow
into your eyes, into your face. Yet when the snow
disappears due to warmer temperatures, instead
of being reflected up back into space, the heat
is taken off in the tundra and in the sea, so
exaggerates the temperature increase, leading
to even more snowmelt, even more ice melt.
“We have all seen in the media the results of
this in the form of much faster shrinking sea
ice than was expected.
“What is much less known is that, similarly,
snow melt has increased significantly over most
of the Arctic; there are regional differences, but
snow disappearance in June has been faster
than ice melt on the Arctic Ocean.
“Climate change is the most likely explanation
for many of the changes that both scientists
and local people have observed in the Arctic,
and even in the Arctic Ocean pronounced
changes are taking place … we can expect
that ice cover in summer in the Arctic Ocean
will decrease heavily during this century.
he three-day Arctic Biodiversity Congress in Trondheim, Norway,
explored how life in the Arctic is altering, providing both new
opportunities and challenges on land and in the ocean for the
wildlife and the people that live there. The 2014 congress examined how
the Arctic environment ‘is being degraded’, how the changes are having
an impact across the whole world, and the need for immediate action.
During the December conference, which Portal attended, Hans Meltofte,
chief scientist of the Arctic Biodiversity Congress, delivered the main
findings of the Arctic Biodiversity Assessment, a five-year evaluation by
over 250 scientists from 14 countries. Writing on the conference
webpages, Meltofte described the review as providing ‘a comprehensive
and correct account of Arctic biodiversity and its living conditions, both
in relation to the natural environment and in relation to Man – historically,
at present and in relation to expected future pressures’.
Defining the Arctic
Addressing attendees, the chief scientist first provided a definition of the
Arctic due to the many complex and conflicting descriptions that exist.
The report bases its classification on that of the Circumpolar Arctic
Vegetation Map, defining the Arctic as the entire tundra region, namely
subzones A-E of the CAVM. Meltofte then detailed how the “Arctic is
home to more than 21,000 species”, but very few in a global perspective.
“Arctic biodiversity, of course, has been the very basis of the life of
Arctic people for millennia, and it is still an important part … of their
whole existence.
“For most species, I would say, this has had little effect on population
level, but for a few species, there have been impacts in the form of
reduced populations, but most of those impacts have been alleviated by
H O R I Z O N 2 0 2 0 P R O J E C T S : P O R TA L
S O C I E TA L C H A L L E N G E S : E N V I R O N M E N T
Arctic analysis
Attending a major Arctic conference,
carries the address of
Hans Meltofte,
chief scientist of the Arctic Biodiversity Assessment
The Arctic landscape
is changing, providing
new opportunities but
also new challenges
affecting the whole of
the Earth
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