– Greenland can lead the world forward in managing global sea level and we are doing our best in finding a sustainable design for a seabed anchored curtain that would enable maintaining valued local fishing and tourism livelihoods as well as the traditional way of life, says research professor John Moore of the Arctic Centre, University of Lapland. Moore is leading the international efforts to prevent ice sheet collapse by seabed anchored curtains.

 – At its core, this project is about sustainability and local acceptability of ice sheet conservation. A curtain must, for instance, maintain the rich food web in the fjord, adds researcher Ilona Mettiäinen of the Arctic Centre of the University of Lapland. She has spent a lot of the past year in Greenland, interviewing and discussing with locals and representatives of key organizations.

– Lessons from Greenland can be applied to the even bigger sea level problems in Antarctica, Moore says. 

The UArctic Frederik Paulsen High Level Seminar was organized under the auspices of the University of the Arctic in Reykjavik in mid-October as a pre-event to the Arctic Circle Assembly to facilitate discussions with a number of stakeholders and rightsholders. 

– These discussions were a magnificent step forward, says Moore. The next steps include setting up an advisory committee to represent both local and international expertise and interests, and identify gaps in knowledge and focus areas of intensive research.

Globally respected engineering companies, such as Arup and Aker Solutions that have a solid and proven track record of solving the most difficult of challenges are also involved.

– This a great opportunity to challenge our brightest heads, in close collaboration with leading scientists in the field, with all agreed on the approach of “do no harm” says Aker’s Marianne Hagen, company’s vice president and head of sustainability. Limiting inflow of warm water, while allowing outflow of nutrient rich waters from the glacier will be complex and its feasibility needs detailed understanding of the nutrient flow and fish system needs – including insights from local fishers who have long and deep knowledge of the fjord ice/ system, and from scientific data collected in the waters.

Traditional hunters and fishers can benefit from cooler fjord waters stabilizing and thickening sea ice, and tourism gains an attraction in “seeing” active conservation although it is invisible from the surface, while icebergs may become larger. 

Monetizing the icesheets as a valued global resource similar to tropical rainforests requires specific new mechanisms to be developed for compensating Greenland for their guardianship of their ice sheet for the global benefit.

More information:

Research Professor John Moore, Arctic Centre, University of Lapland, john.moore@ulapland.fi ; john.moore.bnu@gmail.com, +358 400 194 850

Researcher Ilona Mettiäinen, Arctic Centre, University of Lapland ilona.mettiainen@ulapland.fi, +358 40 484 4273

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