Understanding, predicting and responding to environmental challenges facing the Arctic will help us to better protect one of the world’s last remaining pristine wildernesses. This is why the EU-funded project INTERACT (International Network for Terrestrial Research and Monitoring in the Arctic) has been launched, with the aim of increasing our capacity to monitor and research what is happening to this fragile world. Increasing access to information for researchers is central to the project.
'A key prerequisite to expanding our capacities is developing partnerships between observers and research communities, particularly those using experimental approaches that focus on under- standing and projecting future environmental changes,' explains project coordinator Terry Callaghan. 'INTERACT aims to generate increased research activity by enhancing access to the Arctic for researchers, and engaging the next generation of researchers in collaborative educational activities.'
The project has already made significant progress. For the first time, 45 Arctic terrestrial research stations are networking together, a number which is likely to grow. A station managers' forum has been successfully established to facilitate dialogue on subjects such as best practices and standardised monitoring.
This project has important implications for Europe and Russia. Better coordinated research stations will be able to provide more accurate scientific information, which will better inform decision- makers about potential changes to climate, biodiversity and land use. While input on environ- mental change from individual research stations can advise local stakeholders on adaptation measures, the whole network is required to provide information at a scale of relevance to the EU, Russia and the global community.
'By the end of this project, we will have significantly improved the way in which stations are managed and accessed, the way in which environ- mental monitoring is technically carried out and the way in which data are captured, processed and made available,' says Professor Callaghan. 'Information flow from the Arctic to local stake- holders – including those in European Arctic countries – and to the global community will be further developed.'
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