Climate change and pollution impact the Arctic Ocean – A new research project addresses these challenges together with Indigenous Peoples and local communities

The multidisciplinary research project ICEBERG, led by the University of Oulu, Finland, studies pollution and its impacts on the ecosystems and communities in the next three years in three regions: Greenland, Iceland and Svalbard. First field studies have already started in Svalbard.
Climate change and pollution:- The multidisciplinary research project ICEBERG, led by the University of Oulu, Finland, studies pollution and its impacts on the ecosystems. [Pixabay]
Climate change and pollution:- The multidisciplinary research project ICEBERG, led by the University of Oulu, Finland, studies pollution and its impacts on the ecosystems. [Pixabay]

Climate change and pollution:- The multidisciplinary research project ICEBERG, led by the University of Oulu, Finland, studies pollution and its impacts on the ecosystems and communities in the next three years in three regions: Greenland, Iceland and Svalbard. First field studies have already started in Svalbard.

Climate change and pollution pose significant threats to human health and ecosystems in the Arctic region. The EU funded ICEBERG research project is tackling these problems in collaboration with Indigenous Peoples and local communities.

“ICEBERG deals with a very topical issue which is the pollution of Arctic waters resulting from climate change and human activities. It’s an issue of global importance, because what happens in the Arctic might impact regions elsewhere on the planet,” says Docent Élise Lépy, the Project Manager of ICEBERG from University of Oulu.

The goal of the project is to co-develop resilience strategies to address pollution and climate change, via innovative community engagement. Finally, the project aims to create recommendations for better pollution-control governance.

Three locations, community participation and multiple disciplines

ICEBERG’s field research will take place in three different locations in the Arctic: western Svalbard (Ny-Ålesund and Sørkapp Land), northern Iceland (Akureyri and Húsavik) and southern Kalaallit Nunaat (Greenland) (Narsaq, Qaqortoq and Nanortalik).

In Svalbard, the field work has already started in April. ICEBERG researchers have collected samples from snow pits in Ny-Ålesund. During the summer the research team will collect marine litter and install time-lapse camera to monitor beach dynamics including litter deposition and removal by the waves.

A crucial part of ICEBERG involves active engagement with Indigenous Peoples and local communities. Schools and interested citizens will collaborate with ICEBERG researchers, for example, in pollution tracking using drones, or in contributing their own observations through an interactive citizen participation mapping platform.

“Together we will build a better understanding of the local impacts of pollution and co-create new solutions for its monitoring, and co-develop strategies for mitigation and adaptation”, describes Professor Thora Herrmann, the Project Scientific Coordinator of ICEBERG.

“For us, this inclusive approach is very important and ensures that the project is really tailored to address local needs and concerns.”

ICEBERG is based on a holistic One Health approach, and it brings together researchers from different fields such as toxicology, social science, biogeochemistry, and environmental science.

ICEBERG is funded for three years (2024-2026) by the European Union’s Horizon Europe programme. The project will create concrete policy recommendations of action for better pollution-control governance and contribute to the EU Mission "Restore our Ocean and Waters" for a healthier ocean. The project is led by the University of Oulu in Finland and comprises 15 other partner organizations. AlphaGalileo/SP

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