Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Arctic coasts on the retreat

18.04.2011
International studies describe current state of the Arctic coasts

The coastline in Arctic regions reacts to climate change with increased erosion and retreats by half a metre per year on average. This means substantial changes for Arctic ecosystems near the coast and the population living there.

A consortium of more than thirty scientists from ten countries, including researchers from the Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research in the Helmholtz Association and from the Helmholtz Centre in Geesthacht, comes to this conclusion in two studies published in Estuaries and Coasts and online on www.arcticcoasts.org. They jointly investigated over 100,000 kilometres and thus a fourth of all Arctic coasts and their results have now been published for the first time.

The changes are particularly dramatic in the Laptev, East Siberian and Beaufort Seas, where coastal erosion rates reach more than 8 metres a year in some cases. Since around a third of the world’s coasts are located in the Arctic permafrost, coastal erosion may affect enormous areas in future. In general Arctic coasts react more sensitively to global warming than coasts in the mid-latitudes. Up to now they have been protected against the eroding force of the waves by large sea ice areas. Due to the continuous decline in sea ice, this protection is jeopardised and we have to reckon with rapid changes in a situation that has remained stable for millennia.

Two thirds of the Arctic coasts do not consist of rock, but of frozen soft substrate (permafrost). And precisely these coasts are extremely hard hit by erosion. As a rule, Arctic regions are quite thinly populated. However, as nearly everywhere in the world, the coasts in the far north are important axes for economic and social life. The growing need for global energy resources as well as increasing tourism and freight transport additionally intensify anthropogenic influence on the coastal regions of the Arctic. For wild animal stocks, like the great caribou herds of the north, and the widespread freshwater lakes near the coast progressive erosion brings about significant changes in ecological conditions.

Successful cooperation
More than thirty scientists from ten countries were involved in preparing the 170-page status report entitled “State of the Arctic Coast 2010”. The study was initiated and coordinated by the International Arctic Science Committee (IASC), the international joint project Land-Ocean Interactions in the Coastal Zone (LOICZ), the International Permafrost Association (IPA) and the Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Programme (AMAP) working group of the Arctic Council.

“This international and interdisciplinary report documents in particular the interest and expertise of German scientists in the field of Arctic coastal research,” says Dr. Volker Rachold, Executive Secretary of the IASC. “Three of the international organisations involved in the report are based in Germany. The secretariats of the IASC and IPA are located at the Potsdam Research Unit of the Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research in the Helmholtz Association (AWI). The international coordination office of the LOICZ project is funded by the Helmholtz Centre in Geesthacht (HZG) and has its domicile there at the Institute for Coastal Research. Among other things, researchers see the current study as an international and national contribution to the joint research programme of the Helmholtz Association “Polar Regions and Coasts in a Changing Earth System” (PACES), which is supported by the Alfred Wegener Institute and the Helmholtz Centre in Geesthacht.

“When systematic data acquisition began in 2000, detailed information was available for barely 0.5% of the Arctic coasts,” says Dr. Hugues Lantuit from the Alfred Wegener Institute (AWI). At the same time the geologist from AWI’s Potsdam Research Unit heads the international secretariat of the IPA and is also one of the coordinators of the study. After over ten years of intensive work we have now gained a comprehensive overview of the state and risk of erosion in these areas. “The Arctic is developing more and more into a mirror of various drivers of global change and into a focal point of national and worldwide economic interest,” says Dr. Hartwig Kremer, head of the LOICZ project office.

Notes for Editors:

Your contacts at the Potsdam Research Unit of the Alfred Wegener Institute are Dr. Volker Rachold (tel.: +49 (0)331/288-2212; e-mail: volker.rachold@iasc.info) and Dr. Hugues Lantuit, (tel.: +49 (0)331/288-2216; e-mail: Hugues.Lantuit@awi.de). Your contact in the Communication and Media Department of the Alfred Wegener Institute is Folke Mehrtens (tel.: +49 (0)471/4831-2007; e-mail: Folke.Mehrtens@awi.de).

Your contact at the Institute for Coastal Research of the Helmholtz Centre in Geesthacht (LOICZ office) is Dr. Hartwig Kremer (tel.: +49 (0)4152/87 2009 e-mail: hartwig.kremer@loicz.org). Your contact in the Public Relations Department of the Helmholtz Centre in Geesthacht is Dr. Torsten Fischer (tel.: +49 (0)4152/87 1677; e-mail: torsten.fischer@hzg.de).

The publications:

State of the Arctic Coast 2010 – Scientific Review and Outlook. Published online by IASC, LOICZ, IPA and AMAP (http://www.arcticcoasts.org).

The report focuses on sensitive coasts and thus represents an update of the two previous reports covering the entire Arctic region that examine the impacts of climate change, “Arctic Climate Impact Assessment” (ACIA, 2005), and the current social processes, “Arctic Human Development Report” (AHDR, 2004). It draws an initial interdisciplinary picture of the scientific understanding of the interplay between humanity and the rapidly changing nature on the coasts.

The Arctic Coastal Dynamics Database: A New Classification Scheme and Statistics on Arctic Permafrost Coastlines. Published in the journal “Estuaries and Coasts”, Springer-Verlag (doi: 10.1007/s12237-010-9362-6).

You will find printable pictures at: http://www.awi.de/en/news/press_releases/embargoed_photos/press_release_20110414/

The Alfred Wegener Institute conducts research in the Arctic, Antarctic and oceans of the high and mid-latitudes. It coordinates polar research in Germany and provides major infrastructure to the international scientific community, such as the research icebreaker Polarstern and stations in the Arctic and Antarctica. The Alfred Wegener Institute is one of the seventeen research centres of the Helmholtz Association, the largest scientific organisation in Germany.

The Institute for Coastal Research of the Helmholtz Centre in Geesthacht places its primary focus on the regional climate in northern Germany and the bordering North Sea and Baltic Sea. A prerequisite for effective coastal management is regular observation and assessment of the environment. At the moment the institute is developing the coastal observatory COSYNA (Coastal Observation System for Northern and Arctic Seas). In particular, COSYNA is aimed at developing forecast models and scenarios that will provide important information for coastal management in the future.

Margarete Pauls | idw
Further information:
http://www.arcticcoasts.org

More articles from Studies and Analyses:

nachricht New study: How does Europe become a leading player for software and IT services?
03.04.2017 | Fraunhofer-Institut für System- und Innovationsforschung (ISI)

nachricht Reusable carbon nanotubes could be the water filter of the future, says RIT study
30.03.2017 | Rochester Institute of Technology

All articles from Studies and Analyses >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Making lightweight construction suitable for series production

More and more automobile companies are focusing on body parts made of carbon fiber reinforced plastics (CFRP). However, manufacturing and repair costs must be further reduced in order to make CFRP more economical in use. Together with the Volkswagen AG and five other partners in the project HolQueSt 3D, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) has developed laser processes for the automatic trimming, drilling and repair of three-dimensional components.

Automated manufacturing processes are the basis for ultimately establishing the series production of CFRP components. In the project HolQueSt 3D, the LZH has...

Im Focus: Wonder material? Novel nanotube structure strengthens thin films for flexible electronics

Reflecting the structure of composites found in nature and the ancient world, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have synthesized thin carbon nanotube (CNT) textiles that exhibit both high electrical conductivity and a level of toughness that is about fifty times higher than copper films, currently used in electronics.

"The structural robustness of thin metal films has significant importance for the reliable operation of smart skin and flexible electronics including...

Im Focus: Deep inside Galaxy M87

The nearby, giant radio galaxy M87 hosts a supermassive black hole (BH) and is well-known for its bright jet dominating the spectrum over ten orders of magnitude in frequency. Due to its proximity, jet prominence, and the large black hole mass, M87 is the best laboratory for investigating the formation, acceleration, and collimation of relativistic jets. A research team led by Silke Britzen from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has found strong indication for turbulent processes connecting the accretion disk and the jet of that galaxy providing insights into the longstanding problem of the origin of astrophysical jets.

Supermassive black holes form some of the most enigmatic phenomena in astrophysics. Their enormous energy output is supposed to be generated by the...

Im Focus: A Quantum Low Pass for Photons

Physicists in Garching observe novel quantum effect that limits the number of emitted photons.

The probability to find a certain number of photons inside a laser pulse usually corresponds to a classical distribution of independent events, the so-called...

Im Focus: Microprocessors based on a layer of just three atoms

Microprocessors based on atomically thin materials hold the promise of the evolution of traditional processors as well as new applications in the field of flexible electronics. Now, a TU Wien research team led by Thomas Müller has made a breakthrough in this field as part of an ongoing research project.

Two-dimensional materials, or 2D materials for short, are extremely versatile, although – or often more precisely because – they are made up of just one or a...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Expert meeting “Health Business Connect” will connect international medical technology companies

20.04.2017 | Event News

Wenn der Computer das Gehirn austrickst

18.04.2017 | Event News

7th International Conference on Crystalline Silicon Photovoltaics in Freiburg on April 3-5, 2017

03.04.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

DGIST develops 20 times faster biosensor

24.04.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Nanoimprinted hyperlens array: Paving the way for practical super-resolution imaging

24.04.2017 | Materials Sciences

Atomic-level motion may drive bacteria's ability to evade immune system defenses

24.04.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>