The Value of Ice
Antarctic field scientists and support personnel work in an environment that is highly sensitive to human disturbance. The factors that determine their environmentally oriented behaviours while in the field are critical to understanding and managing the impact of their science, but very little is known about their values, and the choices they make based on those values.
This research into field personnel’s values aims to address this gap in our knowledge. The work thus far has shown that, as a group, people in field camps possess a strong “pro-environmental” way of looking at the world. This view is especially seen in the way they mentally connect their behaviours in the Antarctic environment with impacts on the rest of the planet. These results are important to help us understand environmental behaviour and the practices, not only in Antarctica but elsewhere in the world.
Marine Research in the Ross Sea
The Ross Sea ecosystem’s beautiful, diverse and abundant inhabitants are somewhat protected from human exploitation by extensive sea ice, brutal weather, and isolation. Marine animals range from a wide variety of frequently gargantuan invertebrate and shellfish species, a plethora of fish, predatory marine mammals, sea-birds and the poster child penguins. Such animals are superbly suited to their present frigid environment but may not have the capacity to adapt to future environmental change scenarios.
Lincoln researchers have been investigating how Antarctic marine biota have adapted to their hostile environment and the impacts that climate change may have. The consequences of rises in sea temperature, increases in pollution (including from Antarctic research bases), and the formidable issue of ocean acidification, especially for marine animals that build shells are all being examined. It is hoped this research will lead to their use as ‘polar canaries’ to inform us of when change is occurring in real time- an alarm system for the rest of the planet. Recent research undertaken by Lincoln University also looks at the convention governing fishing in the Ross Sea, as well as the proposal for the establishment of a marine protected area (MPA) put forward by the Antarctic and Southern Ocean Coalition (ASOC).
Soils and Climate Change
They are a polar desert environment characterised by dry, gravelly, salty soils interspersed with alpine glaciers and perennially ice-covered lakes. The dry, salty soils of the McMurdo Dry Valleys are home to a variety of hardy organisms, which come to life during periods of increased temperature and moisture availability. The CO2 produced when these organisms are active can be measured by capturing the gas emitted from the soil surface. Monitoring changes in the amount of CO2 released from these soils is considered to be a sensitive indicator of how Dry Valley ecosystems respond to climate variability. Researchers at Lincoln University have been studying isotopes of carbon in the CO2 emitted from Dry Valley soils, in order to determine the effects of small changes in temperature on soil CO2 production. Their studies have shown that CO2 is both emitted and consumed by Dry Valley soils in a way which can’t be explained by biological processes. Instead, nonbiological reactions, which are controlled by soil chemical conditions as well as soil temperature and moisture content, are predominantly responsible for
CO2 uptake and release from these soils.
This research provides a better understanding of the balance between biological and non-biological CO2 production in soils of the McMurdo Dry Valleys. It will enable the effects of changes in climate conditions on sensitive Antarctic soil ecosystems to be more accurately identified.
Cruise Tourism in Arctic Canada
Climate change, along with other influences such as global economic shifts, increasing security concerns and issues of national sovereignty will have far-reaching consequences for tourism in the Arctic. This research addresses the urgent need to understand how communities can mitigate any negative impacts associated with increased cruise tourism while taking advantage of any development opportunities which would directly benefit local people. The goal of the study is to categorize community-level adaptation strategies that are identified by, and could be implemented by, local residents, stakeholders and relevant decision-makers. This approach underscores the importance of generating solutions within local communities and for local communities in order to ensure local benefit from changing tourism conditions in the Arctic. How residents deal with cruise tourism will be unique to each community, and will depend heavily on the opinions, desires and values of local residents.
Governance of Arctic Cruise Tourism
Changes in seasonal climate patterns, including a decrease in sea ice extent has facilitated an increase in navigable cruise shipping routes in Arctic Canada. As a result, the number of cruise itineraries to the Canadian Arctic doubled between 2005 and 2006 and increased by an additional 14% between 2007 and 2009. Despite the existence of a comprehensive framework of international and national laws governing marine transportation in all Arctic waterways (e.g. UNCLOS) there is no governing body or regulatory framework that manages the cruise tourism sector in Canada. Expected growth in the Arctic Canada’s cruise sector could bring important economic opportunities to the region and provide an alternative to resource extraction relied upon in the past. However, these opportunities will only be realised under appropriate governance frameworks that ensure development is mutually beneficial for both local communities and industry. As part of a wider study on climate change and the impact on cruise tourism, this project analyzed the changing cruise tourism patterns in Arctic Canada, summarized the current regulations and institutions that govern the industry, and examined the relevant institutional structures which act to facilitate or constrain adaptive capacity for both the cruise industry and local communities.