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 The Great Unknown: Risk-Taking Behavior in Adolescents
19.01.2017 | Max-Planck-Institut für Bildungsforschung

nachricht A sudden drop in outdoor temperature increases the risk of respiratory infections
11.01.2017 | University of Gothenburg

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: Traffic jam in empty space

New success for Konstanz physicists in studying the quantum vacuum

An important step towards a completely new experimental access to quantum physics has been made at University of Konstanz. The team of scientists headed by...

Im Focus: How gut bacteria can make us ill

HZI researchers decipher infection mechanisms of Yersinia and immune responses of the host

Yersiniae cause severe intestinal infections. Studies using Yersinia pseudotuberculosis as a model organism aim to elucidate the infection mechanisms of these...

Im Focus: Interfacial Superconductivity: Magnetic and superconducting order revealed simultaneously

Researchers from the University of Hamburg in Germany, in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Aarhus in Denmark, have synthesized a new superconducting material by growing a few layers of an antiferromagnetic transition-metal chalcogenide on a bismuth-based topological insulator, both being non-superconducting materials.

While superconductivity and magnetism are generally believed to be mutually exclusive, surprisingly, in this new material, superconducting correlations...

Im Focus: Studying fundamental particles in materials

Laser-driving of semimetals allows creating novel quasiparticle states within condensed matter systems and switching between different states on ultrafast time scales

Studying properties of fundamental particles in condensed matter systems is a promising approach to quantum field theory. Quasiparticles offer the opportunity...

Im Focus: Designing Architecture with Solar Building Envelopes

Among the general public, solar thermal energy is currently associated with dark blue, rectangular collectors on building roofs. Technologies are needed for aesthetically high quality architecture which offer the architect more room for manoeuvre when it comes to low- and plus-energy buildings. With the “ArKol” project, researchers at Fraunhofer ISE together with partners are currently developing two façade collectors for solar thermal energy generation, which permit a high degree of design flexibility: a strip collector for opaque façade sections and a solar thermal blind for transparent sections. The current state of the two developments will be presented at the BAU 2017 trade fair.

As part of the “ArKol – development of architecturally highly integrated façade collectors with heat pipes” project, Fraunhofer ISE together with its partners...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Sustainable Water use in Agriculture in Eastern Europe and Central Asia

19.01.2017 | Event News

12V, 48V, high-voltage – trends in E/E automotive architecture

10.01.2017 | Event News

2nd Conference on Non-Textual Information on 10 and 11 May 2017 in Hannover

09.01.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Helmholtz International Fellow Award for Sarah Amalia Teichmann

20.01.2017 | Awards Funding

An innovative high-performance material: biofibers made from green lacewing silk

20.01.2017 | Materials Sciences

Ion treatments for cardiac arrhythmia — Non-invasive alternative to catheter-based surgery

20.01.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>