Flagship Fjord and Coast

Fjords and Coastal areas are not just the literal boundary between fresh water, terrestrial and open sea ecosystems, they are also the practical interface whereby humans have been interacting with, and adapting to, their natural surroundings for thousands of years. This makes coupled natural and social science studies critical for assessing ecosystem status, and provides the foundation for understanding the future of the primary biological and socio-economic drivers of development in the northern regions.

In order to support a sustainable use of the resources and maintain ecosystem integrity, the management of fjords and coastal areas must be based on 1) a compre­hensive, integrated management of human activities, and 2) the best available scientific and traditional knowledge about the ecosys­tem and its dynamics (Arctic Council 2013). Such a strategy requires both an improved understanding of what a fully-functioning ecosystem means, and the identification of threats to system integrity. Only through a multidisciplinary approach can we identify the biological and physical characteristics of nearshore systems; the processes that determine ecosystem functioning; and the ecological, economic, and cultural services the ecosystem bestows.

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Picture: Lis Lindal Jørgensen, IMR.

The overall objective of the Fjord & Coast Flagship is to understand and differentiate among natural variability, effects of climatic change, and impacts of other human activities in the coastal regions of northern Norway and Svalbard such that ecosystems can be better managed and monitored. In doing so, the Flagship can help deliver accurate, credible, and timely information on current and predicted changes in the Arctic’s ecosystems to managers and policy-makers.

This objective will be met (see also "Scientific program") through work focused around three sub-goals:

Sub-goal 1: Use current and historical data to describe and understand the current physical conditions (physical, geological, chemical), ecological structure, and human use of fjords and coastal areas, and the interactions among them.

Sub-goal 2: Identify and make use of the (natural and human) elements of the fjord and coast region most sensitive to recent and projected impacts from climatic change and human activity, and at what levels of change these impacts will be felt.

Sub-goal 3: Communicate the findings to diverse stakeholders and encourage the development of a management regime that minimizes or mitigates human impact and promotes sustainable management and ecosystem integrity.