Arctic Science in the Common Interest
The international polar research community has just finished celebrating the 125th anniversary of the first International Polar Year (IPY) 1882–1883. Although the full impact and benefits of IPY 2007–2008 will not be felt for some years – many of its research projects and activities are still underway – attention has now shifted to the legacy aspects of IPY. Over the course of IPY 2007–2008, Arctic nations offered non-Arctic nations unprecedented access to Arctic research infrastructure (e.g. research stations, observation and monitoring networks). Despite the growing body of knowledge, we do not completely understand the potential environmental and social consequences of rapid climate change in the Arctic. The region is attracting international interest for its resource potential, possible new shipping routes as a result of decreasing ice cover, and international boundary and sovereign rights issues that have not yet been settled. Along with climate change, Arctic residents will have to overcome many other challenges such as large-scale economic development, and accelerating health and social issues in communities. Sound knowledge-based strategies are needed to help address the cumulative effects of climate change while taking into account multi-jurisdictional regulations and interests, and environmental impacts. These must involve responsible economic development, sustainable communities, and the use of local expertise in northern communities. This paper examines the need for a sound understanding of the processes at work in the Arctic, a solid bridge that links science and policy, and the importance of long-term sustainable scientific collaboration to improving governance and avoiding conflict in Arctic regions.
KeywordsArctic Ocean Scientific Collaboration Arctic Council International Geophysical Year Arctic Research
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