Arctic Science Summit Week 2019 concluded
May 28 was the last day of the main program of the Arctic Science Summit Week 2019, initiated by the International Arctic Science Committee (IASC).
ASSW2019 in Arkhangelsk became the 21st Arctic Science Summit Week. Next year the event will be held in Iceland, and in 2022 in Portugal.
“Experts from 29 countries visited Arkhangelsk. These are people who are passionate about the Arctic and are actively engaged in field research. Everything we do in the International Arctic Science Committee is aimed at encouraging further scientific research in the Arctic region and engaging more and more specialists. We need to accumulate that critical mass of knowledge and understanding of the Arctic, that will allow us to predict climate change and prepare for conditions in which people will live in the Arctic regions”, said Vladimir Pavlenko, Vice-President of IASC, member of the Arctic Expert Council within the Federation Council of Russia.
“We are very pleased that this year’s Arctic Science Summit Week was held in Russia. The summit was productive: the IASC working groups meetings, presentations, sessions. Today, important changes are occurring in the Arctic, some are fairly predictable for the scientific community, but the scale of these changes in the past two years is really alarming. We need to implement new approaches in order to delve into the essence of these changes, and to know for sure what consequences await the environment and climate,” said Larry Hinzman, President of IASC, vice chancellor for research at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, USA.
The ASSW2019 program was intense: WG meetings and IASC Council meeting were held May 22 and 23, while the Science Conference Opening took place on May 24 at the Northern (Arctic) Federal University. Scientists from all over the world presented their work and shared research results in plenary sessions and thematic sections.
The scientific program continued on the 25th of May, including the poster session.
On May 26, meetings of the working groups and side events continued. On May 27 IASC Medal 2019 was awarded to Dr. Marika Holland (Climate and Global Dynamics Division, National Center for Atmospheric Research, USA) for “Outstanding Achievement and Scientific Leadership role in Understanding, Modeling and Predicting the Arctic Climate System, in particular Sea Ice”.
On May 28, the last day of the summit, the Arctic Medicine session was held at the Northern State Medical University, while the IASC Action Group on Indigenous Involvement met at NArFU for a panel discussion and a launch of the book “Including the North: A Comparative Study of the Policies on Inclusion and Equity in the Circumpolar North”, which celebrates the UArctic Thematic Network on Teacher Education for Social Justice and Diversity in Education.
The range of topics highlighted in the presentations of the ASSW participants was not limited to the impacts of the Arctic development and the influence of climate on local population.
The growth of average annual temperatures and permafrost retreat affects human activity in high latitudes. Vladimir Pavlenko, IASC Vice President, is sure that climate change has no direct impact on the health of the population in high latitudes. A similar opinion was expressed by Svein Harald Sønderland, the supervisor of the Norwegian company Kings Bay AS, which provides for the livelihood of the research station of Ny-Ålesund in Spitsbergen.
Researchers from the Northern State Medical University presented the results of the project studying cardiovascular diseases in the north of Russia and in the northern provinces of Norway. The figures vary greatly, which probably indicates that influence of climatic conditions on health is insignificant.
“The mortality rate in Russia is nine times as high as in Norway, that is, for one death case from cardiovascular disease in Norway there are nine cases in Russia. It is certainly important for us to understand what has caused such a significant difference, and to apply the methods of disease prevention and treatment that our Norwegian colleagues use”, said Alexander Kudryavtsev, Head of the Department of Innovative Programs at the NSMU Central Scientific Research Laboratory.
However, global changes do affect the quality of human life and the state of the infrastructure. According to Violetta Gassiy, Doctor of Economics, Professor, official representative of Russia in the IASC Social and Human Working Group, climate change has both positive and negative effects. For example, the concept of sterility of the Arctic region is now being excluded as increasing penetration of microbes is recorded. There is a larger variety of insects. Answering the question about human impact on climate change, Violetta Gassiy remarked that this process cannot be averted, and the only thing our society can do is to be more active in developing necessary mechanisms of reaction, adaptation not only for humanity as a whole but also from the point of view of introducing modern technologies, which is important today since the Arctic infrastructure is already suffering from the melting of permafrost.
A similar opinion was expressed by Lee Cooper, Doctor of Oceanology, Center for Environmental Science, University of Maryland (USA):
“In my opinion, there is a false choice between economic development and environmental protection. These two concepts are compatible, we can improve our technologies in environmental terms and reduce the negative impact on nature”.
“Enormous changes await Arctic ecosystems, even if we apply a new strategy for CO2 emissions. The changes are irreversible, their progress will be difficult to stop,” said Olga Gavrichkova, a member of the Italian National Research Council. “The transformation of the climate that is occurring in the Arctic now is already exceeding the average values for the Earth, and in the future will continue to grow. We need global restructuring”.
Victoria Buschman, a researcher from the US, presented a report on facilitating the inclusion of Indigenous participation in circumpolar Arctic wetlands conservation. Victoria said that communication with indigenous peoples is built directly – scientists meet with communities, discuss projects and forms of cooperation aimed at achieving the common goal of researchers and residents of the Arctic territories – to preserve the Arctic ecosystem, to create conditions for better human life in the Arctic.
Thomas Diehl from the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre in Italy shared his impressions:
“The Arctic Science Summit Week was very fruitful for me. There was an opportunity to talk with scientists with whom we are engaged in related research – global warming, climate change on the Earth’s surface, permafrost. In the Terrestrial Working Group, we work a lot with modeling, and it is important for us to get feedback on the currently used models. This meeting is very important in terms of networking of the entire scientific community”.
Elmer Topp-Jørgensen from Aarhus University noted for himself an important result of the Arctic Science Summit Week – networking: he was able to communicate with a large number of scientists and researchers from around the world:
“My work is to coordinate Arctic research projects, particularly in Greenland, and networking is very important here. This is an amazingly interesting experience; here, in Arkhangelsk, the atmosphere is very pleasant and hospitable and people seem very approachable. It was great,” said the researcher.
May 22-30, the city of Arkhangelsk (North-West Russia) hosts a large-scale international scientific event which has brought together 450 researchers from 29 countries. The Arctic Science Summit Week was initiated by the International Arctic Science Committee (IASC).
The ASSW2019 sessions are hosted by two UArctic member universities: Northern (Arctic) Federal University and Northern State Medical University (both UArctic members since 2004).