The ECOTIP initiative brings together a multidisciplinary group of scientists from more than 10 countries to study ecosystem tipping points in the Arctic marine environment. This major international effort will advance understanding of the impacts of climate change on Arctic biodiversity and the cascading effects that biodiversity change can have on marine ecosystems, the climate services they provide, and the human communities that depend on them. The four-year project, funded by the EU's H2020 programme, launched on 1 June 2020. (See the ECOTIP launch press release.)
The Arctic Ocean and its adjacent seas are changing quickly in response to temperature increase, loss of sea ice, and the combined effects of additional ecosystem stressors such as invasive species and pollution. These types of changes can induce an abrupt and sometimes irreversible change in the ecosystem – a regime shift – that can have cascading and unpredictable effects on the ecosystem services that support human communities. The Arctic marine region is vulnerable to a series of tipping points that could bring about a regime shift of unprecedented magnitude. At stake are two critical marine ecosystem services that human societies rely on: carbon sequestration, which plays a major role in the global climate system, and fisheries production, which is the economic lifeblood of many Arctic communities.
But the scientific community currently lacks sufficient information on the mechanisms, drivers, thresholds, and consequences of ecosystem tipping cascades. ECOTIP strives to fill these knowledge gaps through a unique collaboration between experts across a range of disciplines, from ecology to socio-economics to paleo-oceanography. The scientists will conduct field research via sea expeditions, and cooperate on laboratory experiments, time series analyses, and a number of modelling approaches.
The ECOTIP project will also be enriched by ongoing dialogue with policymakers, industries, and local and indigenous communities in the Arctic. The aim is to produce sound science that empowers people to make informed decisions about adaptation and management strategies, with the aim of ensuring sustainable use of ecosystem services for generations to come.
The ECOTIP project is funded by the European Union's Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation Programme under Grant Agreement No. 869383.
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