Arctic Climate Change Economy and Society
Climate change is strongly impacting both marine ecosystems and human activities in the Arctic, which in turn has important socio-economic implications for Europe. ACCESS will make 30 years projections based on climate change scenarios for assessing the evolution of human activities such as marine transportation, fisheries, oil and gas extraction in the Arctic with special attention dedicated to environmental sensitivities and sustainability. Understanding the socio-economic impacts of these changes along with their influence on Arctic Governance, are key areas of research within ACCESS.
The Arctic has experienced substantial changes in recent years. These are most likely caused by a combination of natural variability of the high latitude climate system and anthropogenic changes. They include changes in the radiation balance, in atmospheric and oceanic heat transports and in feedbacks of the air-sea-ice-ocean coupled system linked to a thinning and shrinking Arctic sea-ice cover.
Thus ACCESS activities encompass an assessment of climate model results regarding their representation of sea-ice, ocean and atmospheric parameters, their seasonal and inter-annual variability and their trends for the next 30 years. With the reduction of seaice ahead, a strong increase in ship traffic in the Arctic can be expected.
ACCESS dedicates an important effort to the potential impacts shipping activities might have on the sensitive marine environment, including air pollution and long range transport of pollutants by the atmospheric circulation, soot and black carbon deposition on sea-ice, oil spill and ballasting ship tanks in the Arctic Ocean. ACCESS is focusing on enhancing knowledge related to bio-economic and socio-economic aspects of fish resources and aquaculture in the context of climate change in the Arctic. It is the aim of ACCESS to assess the opportunities and multiple risks related to oil and gas extraction in the Arctic Ocean, to highlight potential environmental pressures, provide pathways for technological, legal and institutional solutions and to analyse the socio-economic impacts of resource extraction activity on European, world markets and societies. ACCESS gathers the expertise from 28 partners across Europe including a substantial involvement from the private sector. A key objective of ACCESS is to point out governance options in the context of climate change and the envisioned human activities' increase in the economic sectors mentioned above. The wide range of existing legislative instruments, conventions, agreements at national and international level, provide a complex system of regulation in an area requiring special integrated overview. ACCESS is uniquely positioned to identify lacunae and to offer strategic policy options for the medium and long term future in the context of climate change and the Integrated Maritime Policy.
Modelling activities of the ACCESS project are intended to estimate and interpret the impacts of climate change on human activities in the Arctic Ocean and vice versa. Modelling activities importantly cross all aspects of the ACCESS project to deliver practical policy and infrastructure options for responding to the rapidly changing Arctic Ocean. Ecosystem Based Management (EBM) in particular and Marine Spatial Planning (MSP) in general are key integration tools for ACCESS. EBM and MSP are the links that relate the basic research components of ACCESS. Monitoring activities for long-range and longterm observations of the Arctic Ocean including in-situ and remote sensing observations of the Atmosphere, Sea-Ice and Ocean, are a major development for the ACCESS project.