Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

Investigating tipping points in the European Arctic

Polar researchers are conducting studies in the European Arctic to better understand how the marine ecosystem and key biological processes respond to a changing climate.
Investigating tipping points in the European Arctic
An ecosystem's response to outside pressure such as climate warming can be abrupt and uneven. These tipping points result in significant changes known as regime shifts. EU-funded scientists are examining changes to sea ice and ocean temperature in the European Arctic and the consequences of crossing tipping points.

The 'Arctic tipping points' (ATP) project analysed time series data and conducted experiments to investigate the existence of climate driven tipping points for key species and ecosystem processes in the Arctic Ocean. Researchers are also studying the impact on economic activities in the region, such as aquaculture, oil and gas exploration, and fisheries management.

Further, they are modelling future tipping points using a biological–physical coupled model based on the time series data and experimental analyses. They are also developing a two-dimensional (2D) cellular automata (CA) model for testing the properties of different fisheries' management regimes. In addition, scientists are investigating optimal oil and gas exploitation strategies under certain prices and weather conditions.

Project partners are also investigating how institutions and policies for managing living marine resources and petroleum cope with rapid changes in ecosystems due to climate change. An understanding of tipping points and their impact due to various levels of warming can contribute valuable information to new international agreements for climate change regulation.

The ATP initiative has provided advice on sustainable resource management and climate effects on different climate scenarios to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Researchers also formulated a white paper evaluating policy options in avoiding exceeding tipping points.

Models developed under the auspices of ATP are dependent on three key factors, including the availability of reliable scientific forecasts on future changes of the Arctic marine ecosystem in response to climate change. The two other factors are the development of regionally focused resource-use models, and the efficient transfer of knowledge into managerial and political frameworks.

Dissemination and outreach activities conducted by ATP include scientific talks and publications, a project web page, newspaper articles, television documentaries and the organisation of public events.

ATP consortium research results will help inform both scientists and policymakers around the world about the risks associated with crossing Arctic tipping points and the resulting regime shifts, and how to mitigate them.

Related information

Record Number: 90350 / Last updated on: 2013-02-04
Domain: Environment