Scientists take ‘blue-action’ to help society cope with the impacts of dramatic Arctic climate changes

While the Arctic faces rapid warming and less sea ice currently covers the Arctic Ocean than ever before at this time of the year, an international partnership launches a major project to improve our detailed understanding of the processes and impacts of this changing climate and to construct better long-term forecast systems for the increasingly extreme weather of the Arctic and the wider northern hemisphere.

Blue-Action is a four-year research and innovations project funded by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 programme with €7.5 million investment. It brings together 116 experts from 40 organisations in 17 countries on three continents working in academia, local authorities and maritime industries.

Pooling their expertise, skills, approaches and networks, the partners aim to improve how we describe, model and predict the weather and climate on seasonal to decadal time scales in the Arctic and over the northern hemisphere. This information will allow communities and businesses in Eurasia and North America to develop and plan their activities better.

“We will deliver this by synthesizing observations, assessing model performance, conducting coordinated multi-model sensitivity experiments, reducing and evaluating the uncertainty in prediction systems and developing new initialization techniques” explains Dr Daniela Matei from the Max-Planck Institute for Meteorology in Hamburg, one of two coordinators of the project.

“Working directly with local communities, businesses operating in the Arctic and industrial organisations, Blue-Action will demonstrate new opportunities for growth through tailored climate services. These will give users the information they need to live and work safely and successfully in the rapidly changing regions in and surrounding the Arctic” says project coordinator Dr Steffen M Olsen from the Danish Meteorological Institute in Copenhagen.

“We are starting today to reach out to the many communities and businesses in the far north to work with us to guide our research direction and to co-develop adaptation mechanisms that will allow them to not only sustain but to boost their performance,” says Steffen Olsen.

“We will collaborate with other modelling and observational climate projects funded within the JPI-Climate Belmont-Forum, EU-H2020 frameworks to maximise the synergy and efficiency of our research efforts,” adds Dr Matei.

In addition, the Blue-Action project will seek to reach out to the private sector decision makers and actively engage with them to enhance response capacity to climate change challenges and foster transfer and use of project results via Climate-KIC, which will in turn boost economic growth. Climate-KIC is responsible for the Work Package 8 and will be in charge of communication and dissemination to a broad European business community including shipping, oil and gas, fisheries, aquaculture, tourism, renewable energy (wind, wave, tidal), ports, dredging, cables and pipelines, carbon capture and storage, as well as the maritime legal, financial and insurance communities.

While the project begins its work on 1 December 2016, the Blue-Action kick-off meeting will be held 18-20 January 2017 at the Max Planck Society’s Harnack-Haus in Berlin.