DECISION-MAKING

Safe navi­gation in frozen water

Marine Climate Services in the Arctic

Department of Social Sciences

Retreating sea-ice in the Artic Ocean can lead to unexpected and dangerous marine conditions for fishermen and other navigators. In order to know what to expect from the unexpected, the SALIENSEAS project, coordinated by Wageningen University & Research, uses gaming and other cutting-edge methodologies to develop reliable weather and sea-ice forecasts.

This research contributes to Sustainable Development Goal 13: Climate action.

The ice coverage in the Arctic Ocean is retreating, leading to a more dynamic marine environment with sea ice in unexpected quantities and places. As the area becomes more accessible, cruise tourism and fisheries are increasing, while remote indigenous communities in the region need to be supplied seasonally with essential goods by boat. But cargo shipping, cruise tourism and fisheries in these waters can be risky if there’s insufficient information about such dynamic marine conditions.

Reliable weather and sea-ice forecasts are essential for decision-making on Arctic marine operations and the safety of ships maneuvering in these remote, frozen waters. But how, when and in what form should marine climate services be made available for it to be useful and usable?

This kind of sea ice forecast information is very new. How do you make that information relevant and usable?

In the SALIENSEAS project, coordinated by Machiel Lamers of the Environmental Policy Group (ENP), a team of social and natural scientists is working with metocean (meteorological and oceanographic) service personnel of the Danish and Norwegian Meteorological institutes, and end-users. The project aims to improve the quality of Arctic marine climate services and make them accessible to end users like fishermen and cruise ships.

Connecting scientific data to practice

Machiel Lamers: “Climate services are on the rise. This kind of sea ice forecast information is very new. How do you make that information relevant and usable for the users? The WUR social scientists are very adept at connecting scientific data to practice.”

To explore the socioeconomic potential of sea ice forecasting services, SALIENSEAS carries out a companion modelling approach, using serious gaming and agent-based modelling (ABM) to simulate decision-making processes under uncertainty. This approach was chosen because the multiple stakeholders involved in the project each represent unique decision-making contexts, but together they also form a complex adaptive system with its own unique, emergent qualities. SALIENSEAS thus seeks to uncover how decisions are adapted to changing environmental conditions, and how information platforms may support or impede decision makers.

SALIENSEAS

aims to improve the quality of Arctic marine climate services

It employs a

companion modelling approach,

using serious gaming and agent-based modelling

It tries to uncover how decisions are

adapted to

changing environmental conditions

Reduce risks for shipping sectors

“The project is typical for the Environmental Policy group,” says Lamers. “To work with a large number of stakeholders through a co-production process on topics such as climate adaptation, resilience, and the role of digitisation and information in decision-making by policymakers and social partners, suits us perfectly.”

The outcome of this project will lead to a more secure supply of goods to remote communities in the Arctic. Around sixty cruise vessels operating in the region will also benefit from this meteorological data. The tailoring of sea-ice services to the needs of important shipping sectors in European Arctic waters can reduce risks, increase resilience and enhance economic opportunities for communities and sectors.

Lamers: “The consequences of climate change are enormous already in the Arctic. The results of this project also help us to be prepared for a future in which the consequences of climate change will also be more tangible in our own region.”

Want to see an example of a SALIEN­SEAS game?

Do you have a question about marine climate services? Ask our expert:

Machiel Lamers

Associate Professor Environmental Policy

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