Experts in Arctic communities meet in Barcelona

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The UAB’s CER-ARCTIC Research Centre organized the past 24-27 April 2018 in Barcelona the 1st ARCTIC research Week, with the participation of renowned experts in Arctic communities. The week began by a CER-ARCTIC internal meeting, followed by 2 days of visit to the Garraf and Barcelona Coast, and ended with the First International Conference on “Indigenous Peoples in cold Climates” on the 27th April, , an event for the promotion and dissemination of scientific activities on the Arctic in Barcelona. 

 

1st ARCTIC RESEARCH WEEK

CER-ARCTIC Meeting

At the 24th April meeting, researchers and collaborators of CER-ARCTIC discussed the preparation of potential research proposals with other Arctic institutions. They also discussed the organization by the UAB’s ARCTIC Research Centre, of several international conferences and CER ARCTIC meetings in 2018 and 2019, with the aim of strengthening the collaboration with the international network of Arctic centres and other polar research institutions.

The Arctic Research Week began the 24th April with at the Universitat Autònoma of Barcelona, with the attendance of visiting researchers Tanja Joona (Arctic Centre of Lapland University in Finland) and Níels Einarsson (Stefansson Arctic Institute in Iceland). The meeting helped to strength the collaboration among the CER-ARCTIC researchers and collaborators. Several main research lines were identified to prioritize the work at the Centre:

  • Ocean management and governance (fisheries, quotas, co-management, whales images and whale watch, MPAs and sanctuaries, tourism, cruise ship impacts…).
  • Paleosols, climates and landscape, soil biodiversity, thawing of permafrost and the impacts on people.
  • Archaeology and ethnology in the relations between marine mammals and local communities.
  • Synergies between climate change and global change, comparing the south and the north, connecting local communities.
  • Indigenous rights on territory and animals, gender and youth questions, facing societal and cultural transformations
  • Arctic representation in the EU and global institutions.

FIELD TRIPS

On April 25th and 26th, the events of the Arctic Research Week continued with the organization of visits to the harbours of Vilanova i la Geltrú, but also in Sitges and the Garraf coast, where have been made repeated whale sightings of the specie Baleanoptera physalus, the common Rorqual, connecting the Mediterranean with the Arctic.

In Barcelona, a visit organized in the harbour allowed to meet different fishermen and take contact with Cristina Caparrós for further collaborations on fishermen‘s heritage. As well, a number of interviews were programmed to explore the role and function of women in the fisheries, comparing the Mediterranean and the Arctic. The visits where coordinated by the Director of CER-ARCTIC Françoise Breton, and featured with the participation of visiting researchers Níels Einarsson and Tanja Joona.

First International Conference “Indigenous Peoples in Cold Climates” as closing event of the 1st Arctic Research Week

The UAB’s Arctic Research and Studies Centre CER-ARCTIC, in collaboration with the Stefansson Arctic Institute in Iceland, the Arctic Centre of the University of Lapland in Finland, and the Sustainable Development Advisory Board of Catalonia (CADS), organised the 27th April the First International Conference on “Indigenous Peoples in Cold Climates”. The event took place at the Doctor Melcior Colet Museum and Centre for Sports Studies in Barcelona (Carrer de Buenos Aires 56).

The conference focused on experiences in social realities, marine and land rights, the “commons” and the relationships with nature among indigenous communities and other communities living in the Arctic. According to the organisers, “there are still many aspects about the Arctic which remain unknown in Western societies, and it is an honour to give visibility to those who during centuries have lived in these cold climates, and who often do not have a say in climate change and the global impacts affecting their land”.

The event was attended by the Vice-Rector of Research and Transfer of the UAB, Dr. Armand Sánchez, and they participated, among others, guest speakers included renowned experts such as Isabel Pont, member of the Sustainable Development Advisory Board of Catalonia (CADS), Government of Catalonia; Montserrat Ventura, Head of the Social and Cultural Anthropology Department of the UAB; Tanja Joona, researcher at the University of Lapland in Finland; Alfredo Prieto and Jorge Gibbons of the University of Magallanes in Chile; and Níels Einarsson, Director of the Stefansson Arctic Institute in Iceland.

The weekly magazine ‘El Temps’ covered the conference and published an article.

At the end of the international conference, a lunch for the guest speakers was organized by the Stefansson Arctic Institute and closing the events of the 1st Arctic Research Week.

Europe is losing seasonal sea ice faster than perennial

Walruses, belugas and narwhals are the most affected marine mammal species

Credit: National Geographic 1) Sergey Gorshkov, 2) Nansen Weber, 3) and 7) Paul Nicklen, 4) Florian Schulz, 5) Kaido Haagen, 8) Brian Skerry; IUCN 6) Morten Joergensen; 9) IFAW.

According to the preliminary results of an ongoing research where Joan Parera and Raquel Ubach are developing a new indicator for monitoring sea ice extent, seasonal sea ice is declining faster than perennial Parera proposes to adapt the IceMap250 algorithm to European sea regions. The use of MODIS optical and infrared imagery allows sea ice extent mapping at a higher resolution (250 m at nadir) than that of the commonly used satellite data, thus enabling a finer vulnerability mapping in the European sea regions to determine where conservation measures should be prioritized.

The continued loss of sea ice in the Northern Hemisphere due to global warming poses a threat on biota and human activities, evidencing the necessity of efficient sea ice monitoring tools. To prove the indicator’s utility and applicability, a vulnerability assessment has been carried out for nine sea ice associated marine mammal species, following the cumulative impact mapping methodology. Same preliminary results rank species vulnerability, being walruses, belugas and narwhals the most affected by the loss of sea ice.

Impact has been found to be larger north of Svalbard, Franz Josef Land, and in the central Barents Sea, highlighting the need for conservation measures in these areas.

Key messages from the preliminary results

1) Seasonal sea ice is declining faster than perennial sea ice in the European sea regions. Perennial sea ice refers to the extent of the ice cover which is stable all year long, i.e. the minimum extent (September), while seasonal sea ice is the variable portion of the ice cover, i.e. the difference between the maximum extent (March) and the minimum. Contrary to the observed tendencies, sea ice in the whole Northern Hemisphere is declining faster in September.

 2) walruses, belugas and narwhals are the most affected by the loss of sea ice FROM the nine analysed marine mammal species. The impact caused by this loss is especially severe in the northern coast of Svalbard and the central Barents Sea.

 3) A new map synthesis approach has allowed the minimization of classification errors and the effects of atmospheric conditions. Together with other changes concerning the classification method, the modified algorithm has achieved systematically better total accuracies than the original IceMap250.

Flows

CumulativeImpact_MapSeaIce_PresenceLikelihood_Map

The UAB Opens New Arctic Research Centre

The UAB inaugurated its new CER ARCTIC research centre, unique in the whole of Spain in this area and innovative in research that is respectful with and to local Arctic communities. Directed by UAB professor and INTERFASE team researcher Françoise Breton, the centre will focus particularly on the global changes and their impact on the local population.

CER-ARCTIC

The Arctic is currently undergoing political, economic, social and environmental changes which very likely will be irreversible. These global processes have an impact on the societies of the region, the daily lives of the population and on their welfare.

The UAB’s new CER ARCTIC Research and Studies Centre will generate cutting-edge research and provide scientific assessment as a way of contributing to the quality of life of Arctic populations, as well as to the sustainability of their environment. Based on a multidisciplinary approach, the research centre will study rights and social justice issues in relation to the use of resources, conduct comparative studies of the Arctic and other regions, such as the Mediterranean, and promote sustainability and governance to foster well-being and human development in the region.

The UAB’s new CER ARCTIC Research and studies Centre, presented by the director of the centre Françoise Breton, has included the attendance of renowned researchers such as Brynhildur Davíðsdóttir, professor in Ecological Economics at the University of Iceland; Níels Einarsson, director of the Stefansson Arctic Institute, Iceland; and Melody Brown Burkins, associate director of the John Sloan Dickey Center for International Understanding Dartmouth College, USA, on behalf of the Institute of Arctic Studies, Dartmouth College. Rune Fjellheim, director of the Sami Parliament in Norway, also participated in the event.

Among its objectives, the CER ARCTIC will conduct comparative studies of the Arctic, viewed as a sea surrounded by a diversity of countries and cultures, and the Mediterranean. Both share a high level of vulnerability to global changes, not only climatic ones, but also political, economic and cultural changes, with negative effects for the indigenous and local communities.

“The new centre will bridge the Arctic with the Mediterranean, Africa and Antarctica, given that all these regions are related and face similar changes”, says director of the centre Françoise Breton. “There are global phenomena such as tourism and urban changes which greatly affect local populations. That is why CER ARCTIC will conduct Responsible Research, with priority research lines which will be agreed upon with the people living in these regions”, Breton continues. She points to the fact that the large super-powers increasingly see the Arctic as a “warehouse of resources”, more than “a territory in which people live”.

The main research subjects of the centre will be the human dimension of climate change; the dependence on natural resources and resilience of local populations in the face of challenging environments; the appropriation of land, marine territory and resources by big companies, the question of the “commons” and traditional local management, human development of communities and their habitats from a socio-ecological viewpoint; environmental history, transformations in fishing and aquaculture; the role of cetacean and other marine mammals in the socio-ecological systems; the effects of globalisation, such as the increase of nature tourism and whale watching, the exploration for oil and the opening of new maritime routes for freight transport and cruise ships; cultural, archaeological and anthropological heritage related to different value systems; the governance of the Arctic Ocean, its resources and human heritage; the impact of Western perceptions on the identity and ways of life of small local communities; the conservation of wildlife; local and indigenous knowledge based on experience and oral transmission, and the survival of more than 40 regional languages.

In the first phase, the centre will include six researchers from different UAB departments and four affiliated researchers from the University of Tromsø, Norway, the Stefansson Arctic Institute in Iceland, and the University of Iceland. The number of researchers will gradually increase with the incorporation of new members.

NILS project – Research stage in the Arctic to study the vulnerability of whales’ species and the whales hunting local communities

Brief Description:

The stage has been done by Dra. Françoise Breton from INTERFASE research group of Geography Department and ICTA institute of the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (UAB), in collaboration with Dr. Svein Jentoft and MARA research group from the University of Tromsø (UiT – The Arctic University of Norway). Other strong colaborations have been established during the development of research stage with the University of Svalbard (UNIS), and the Svalbard Museum and her Director Tora Hultgreen.

The research stage has allowed to carry out a first approach to the study of vulnerability of whales and the effects to local communities related with the whales’ hunting in the Arctic Region of Norway from a socio-environmental approach (integrating environmental, historical, political and ethnological perspectives).

The research work done in 2015, focuses on whale species vulnerability. Fieldwork methodology on whales ‘perception by local fishermen communities and other relevant stakeholders allows us to discuss traditional whaling, within the artisanal fishery cycle.

This activity is important to sustain local coastal communities inhabiting in extreme cold climate in the Arctic.

During the research it has also present a test to map and model whales’ vulnerability. Both approaches help to understand the place of whales in the Barents Sea. This research focusing on socioecological approach to Minke whale (Balaenoptera acurostrata) in Lofoten islands (Norway) allows to meet a number strong recommendations to the Marine Spatial Plans.

BarentsSeaMap

Read moreNILS project – Research stage in the Arctic to study the vulnerability of whales’ species and the whales hunting local communities

Pilot project in the Adriatic on testing the candidate common indicator ‘Land use change’ in the Mediterranean within the EcAp framework/EcAp-MED project

Brief Description:

In the overall framework of an EU funded project on the “Implementation of the Ecosystem Approach in the Mediterranean by the Contracting parties in the context of the Barcelona Convention for the Protection of the Marine Environment and the coastal region of the Mediterranean and its Protocols” (EcAp-MED project 2012-15), the Pilot project in the Adriatic aims, following up on the CORMON outcomes, to test the applicability of the land-use change candidate common indicator, though a sub-regional pilot.

Read morePilot project in the Adriatic on testing the candidate common indicator ‘Land use change’ in the Mediterranean within the EcAp framework/EcAp-MED project

COASTGAP Project: Coastal Governance and Adaptation Policies in the Mediterranean

 

 

 

Brief Description:

The Mediterranean coastal zones are among the most threatened by Climate Change effects, also considering their environmental and infrastructural value and concomitant strains like erosion, salt water intrusion, littoralization, etc.. The project COASTGAP was born after more than 10 years of shared experiences in this field, among many Mediterranean coastal Administrations and Institutions, which established the cluster FACECOAST (www.facecoast.eu) in 2011. COASTGAP aimed to capitalize 12 best practices from 9 projects of the cluster (from MED and other programmes), to produce governance and adaptation policies aimed to reduce risk along coastal zones and foster their sustainable development (there were 15 institutions involved). In order to provide an operational and coherent strategy for the 2014-2020 financial period, supported by multi-level agreements among coastal Administrations, COASTGAP aimed to design, characterize and prepare to launch the Joint Action Plan on Adaptations to Climate Changes in MED Basin.

Read moreCOASTGAP Project: Coastal Governance and Adaptation Policies in the Mediterranean

Innovative Ecosystem-Based Governance Strategies for Resilient Coasts (INN-COASTS)

Brief description:

The INN-COASTS project proposes a very innovative ecosystem-based integrated coastal zone management (ICZM) conceptual framework and associated tools for decision making. It is analyzing the state and evolution of the Mediterranean Spanish coast, its ecosystems, urban settlements, protected and non protected areas, making assessments and providing guidance for coastal resilient planning and management, understood in this proposal as the capacity of being flexible adapting to social-environmental changes in a sustainable way.

Three Spanish coastal case studies have been chosen in order to carry out the project: 1) the South Metropolitan area of Barcelona (Llobregat Delta – Garraf coast) (Catalonia); 2) the Ebro Delta (Catalonia); and 3) the Eastern coast of Almería (Andalusia), to work in each of them together with managers and decision makers, in a participative governance, sharing concepts, visions, data and results and identifying drivers and potential responses in terms of ICZM, with the aim of bridging science and decision making.

The project proposes to build an inventory of the coastal and marine ecosystems in the pilot sites, with criteria to identify and mapping them through different methods and assess their state and trends, identifying degradation hotspots but also networks of healthy ecosystems that should be taken into account for improving the planning and management of the coast. Guidance for ecosystem-based management are being written having in mind the anthropic but also global (including climate) change pressures on these ecosystems and their future.

Financing institution: Ministerio de Economía y Competitividad (Spanish Government)

Duration of the project: 01-01-2013/31-12-2015

Budget: 47.034 €

UAB role: The INTERFASE team from UAB is the lead partner and the main staff provider of the project and is coordinating Activity 1: Ecosystem-based approach guidance for the ICZM in Spanish Mediterranean coasts, Activity 2: Development of a coastal ecosystem accounting methodology / blue green inventory for the Mediterranean Spanish coasts, Activity 3: Resilient coasts at the face of climate change adaptation: new challenges for urban adaptive planning and governances, Activity 4: Sustainable tourism in coastal areas: state of the art and challenges, Activity 5: ICZM governance platform in coastal areas and  Activity 6: Project coordination and dissemination.