Polar Expertise - Supporting Development

Lead Research Organisation: NERC British Antarctic Survey
Department Name: Science Programmes

Abstract

Working in the Polar Regions, BAS has developed expertise, instrumentation and modelling techniques that have wider applicability, e.g. where research can contribute to development goals. We propose two strands of research in ODA countries that build upon the strengths of BAS as an interdisciplinary survey and research institute, and which continue strands of research begun in recent years under grant funding: one focused on water resources in the Indian section of the Indus river basin, and the other on the long term security of ecosystem services on South Atlantic Islands.

Access to water in India is a key development challenge (UN SDG 6) as population growth, a rapidly expanding economy and a large agricultural sector compete for increasingly scarce or variable supplies, and this is likely to be exacerbated by predicted climate change. Already, almost 95% of Indus river flow is extracted to feed the world's largest system of irrigated agriculture, particularly in Indian and Pakistani Punjab, which supports 237 million people and growing.

The Indus river system originates in the western Himalayas, fed by snow and glacier melt and precipitation. Snow cover and glaciers in this region have shrunk dramatically in recent years, posing a serious threat to this water supply, but almost none of its thousands of glaciers have any ice thickness measurements and so the size of the region's ice reserves is unknown. Furthermore, the fundamental precipitation inputs to this river basin are sparsely measured and poorly understood.

This proposal will address these deficiencies by adapting existing BAS polar radar techniques to survey glacier volumes from the air, and developing a high resolution atmospheric model to characterise local climate variability (particularly by improving its representation of cloud microphysics and how this affects simulated precipitation). When linked to wider glacio-hydrological modelling studies (e.g. those to be undertaken by partners in India) this will lead to better understanding of present-day and future water availability, resulting in better informed policy decisions on Indus river water use.

The food security and economies of isolated island communities in the South Atlantic, in particular Tristan da Cunha and St Helena, are heavily reliant on harvesting marine resources and, to a lesser degree, tourism. Most of these resources are taken from the small coastal shelf areas and seamounts that are isolated in vast areas of deep ocean. Understanding how vulnerable these resources are to current and future harvesting, climate change and species invasion will be key to maintaining the future economic and cultural security of these communities.

We propose to deploy a multi-disciplinary team to construct a food-web for the exploited marine populations that will allow us to identify critical links in the food chain and to assess their vulnerability. Scientific cruises and land-based fieldwork, complemented by ocean model simulations, will allow us to understand the variability and eventually to identify any longer term trends, including climate change signals.

The key to this project is that it will integrate all previous studies to develop a long term study methodology that will improve our understanding of the causes and consequences of environmental change to the coastal shelf ecosystem. It would leave a legacy of robust oceanographic and food web modelling that will provide the scientific information necessary to develop policies to manage marine ecosystem resources, especially those relating to food security and eco-tourism. Moreover, whilst feeding directly into Island governmental planning, the outputs from this research will also feed into a number of International organisations that are actively involved in conservation of marine biodiversity.

Planned Impact

'Long term security of ecosystem services on South Atlantic Islands' focusses on both Tristan da Cunha and St Helena's heavy reliance on marine resources for food and economic security. 80% of Tristan da Cunha income comes from the commercial lobster fishery but the subsistence fisheries are closely associated with the Islanders cultural identity. Marine wildlife also supports an ecotourism industry at both Islands. The discrete geographic extent of these Islands, and well-defined actors, allows us to clearly identify the beneficiaries of this project. The governments of Tristan da Cunha and St. Helena and commercial interests such as Overstone Fishing Company will benefit from the indicators of ecosystem health that we will provide because they will help to ensure that fisheries exploitation is sustainable and that the fisheries retain their valuable Marine Stewardship Council certification. The project will provide an enhanced understanding of the food webs and new tools that will increase resilience of the harvestable stocks. These benefits are enhanced by the programme of capability-building that we propose (training in marine surveys, pragmatic ecosystem modelling, a data archive), which will enhance the self-reliance of the islands' fisheries and conservation departments, increasing their ability to manage their own marine resources in the face of environmental change. Ongoing conservation projects (e.g., RSPB, SAERI, National Geographic, Darwin) and the locating and monitoring of marine protected areas will also benefit through the improved understanding of the marine ecosystem that this research will provide.

In 'Water resources of the Upper Indus', both the water resource issue and the stakeholder landscape are highly complex. Multiple, competing water users and managers interact with policy-makers at a range of scales and levels of government, local to international. In our 'pathways to development impact', we have focussed strongly on a process of identifying stakeholders and seeking to understand their needs, as a key initial task. PP Bharucha (Anglia Ruskin University), PP David Viner (Mott Macdonald), the India-UK Water Centre (IUKWC) and the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) have agreed to help us target our research to best meet stakeholder needs and to disseminate our results to best inform stakeholder decision-makers.

We anticipate that our Upper Indus research will ultimately benefit the water management agencies of India (Department of Hydrology and Meteorology and associates) and Pakistan (Water and Power Development Agency and associates) by contributing datasets that will reduce uncertainty in river-flow predictions. Directly and through these agencies, greater flow predictability will benefit hydropower developers and managers by improving estimates of the generation of electricity and hence income, which will assist in both power-capacity planning and project financing. Glacial meltwater is particularly important during low flows, hence our survey work supports disaster preparedness and mitigation by contributing to improved predictions of extreme low flows in droughts. Mountain climate in the Upper Indus affects all aspects of seasonal, annual and extreme flows and how they will change in future, and so is fundamental to short-term water resource management (relevant to municipal, industrial and agricultural water consumers) and longer-term government water-resource planning in the context of expected changes in water demand. In addition, our project partners in India will benefit directly from our planned capability-building activities (glacier radar surveying, high-resolution mountain climate modelling) through which we will support our partners to develop their own survey and modelling research, empowering them further to fund and expand their own cryospheric research programmes.

Publications

10 25 50
 
Description We have developed a new airborne ice penetrating radar for use on warm glaciers. This was tested in Svalbard in 2018 and worked well.
Exploitation Route The radar could be used in any glacial environment.
Sectors Environment

 
Description Findings have already been requests from the Governments of St Helena and Tristan da Cunha to inform fisheries and conservation policy.
First Year Of Impact 2018
Sector Agriculture, Food and Drink,Environment
Impact Types Cultural,Societal,Economic,Policy & public services

 
Description Evidence-based recommendations for sustainable penguin egg harvests on Tristan da Cunha
Geographic Reach South America 
Policy Influence Type Implementation circular/rapid advice/letter to e.g. Ministry of Health
Impact Evidence-based recommendations for sustainable penguin egg harvests on Tristan da Cunha Norman Ratcliffe to Tristan Island Council
 
Description Participation in GB non-native species secretariat NNSS meeting in St Helena on biological invasions - (Peter Convey)
Geographic Reach Multiple continents/international 
Policy Influence Type Membership of a guideline committee
Impact Invited participation in Horizon scanning workshop on St Helena to identify potential biological invasions. Report and action plan will follow
URL http://www.nonnativespecies.org
 
Description Participation in GB non-native species secretariat NNSS meeting in St Helena on biological invasions - (Peter Convey)
Geographic Reach Multiple continents/international 
Policy Influence Type Membership of a guideline committee
Impact Workshop in St Helena run by NNSS to assess vulnerability of UK OTs to biological invasions. A report and action plan will follow.
URL http://www.nonnativespecies.org/
 
Description Collaboration in South Atlantic 
Organisation Centre For Environment, Fisheries And Aquaculture Science
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution Collaborations set up to deliver shipborne science and engagement outcomes around South Atlantic islands
Collaborator Contribution Cooperation and support of ship cruises
Impact none yet
Start Year 2017
 
Description Collaboration in South Atlantic 
Organisation Government of St Helena
PI Contribution Collaborations set up to deliver shipborne science and engagement outcomes around South Atlantic islands
Collaborator Contribution Cooperation and support of ship cruises
Impact none yet
Start Year 2017
 
Description Collaboration in South Atlantic 
Organisation Government of Tristan da Cunha
PI Contribution Collaborations set up to deliver shipborne science and engagement outcomes around South Atlantic islands
Collaborator Contribution Cooperation and support of ship cruises
Impact none yet
Start Year 2017
 
Description Collaboration in South Atlantic 
Organisation Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB)
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution Collaborations set up to deliver shipborne science and engagement outcomes around South Atlantic islands
Collaborator Contribution Cooperation and support of ship cruises
Impact none yet
Start Year 2017
 
Description Collaboration in South Atlantic 
Organisation South Atlantic Environmental Research Institute
PI Contribution Collaborations set up to deliver shipborne science and engagement outcomes around South Atlantic islands
Collaborator Contribution Cooperation and support of ship cruises
Impact none yet
Start Year 2017
 
Description Collaboration in South Atlantic 
Organisation United Kingdom Hydrographic Office
PI Contribution Collaborations set up to deliver shipborne science and engagement outcomes around South Atlantic islands
Collaborator Contribution Cooperation and support of ship cruises
Impact none yet
Start Year 2017
 
Description Collaborations in Himalayas 
Organisation Anglia Ruskin University
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution These collaborations are set up to deliver the programme, and engagement activities
Collaborator Contribution Partnership in science and engagement activities
Impact None yet
Start Year 2017
 
Description Collaborations in Himalayas 
Organisation Indian Institute of Science
Country India 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution These collaborations are set up to deliver the programme, and engagement activities
Collaborator Contribution Partnership in science and engagement activities
Impact None yet
Start Year 2017
 
Description Collaborations in Himalayas 
Organisation International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD)
Country Nepal 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution These collaborations are set up to deliver the programme, and engagement activities
Collaborator Contribution Partnership in science and engagement activities
Impact None yet
Start Year 2017
 
Description Collaborations in Himalayas 
Organisation Mott Macdonald UK Ltd
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution These collaborations are set up to deliver the programme, and engagement activities
Collaborator Contribution Partnership in science and engagement activities
Impact None yet
Start Year 2017
 
Description Collaborations in Himalayas 
Organisation National Institute of Hydrology, Roorkee
Country India 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution These collaborations are set up to deliver the programme, and engagement activities
Collaborator Contribution Partnership in science and engagement activities
Impact None yet
Start Year 2017
 
Description Collaborations in Himalayas 
Organisation TERI University
PI Contribution These collaborations are set up to deliver the programme, and engagement activities
Collaborator Contribution Partnership in science and engagement activities
Impact None yet
Start Year 2017
 
Description Collaborations in Himalayas 
Organisation University of East Anglia
Department School of Environmental Sciences UEA
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution These collaborations are set up to deliver the programme, and engagement activities
Collaborator Contribution Partnership in science and engagement activities
Impact None yet
Start Year 2017
 
Description Collaborations in Himalayas 
Organisation Vellore Institute of Technology University
Country India 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution These collaborations are set up to deliver the programme, and engagement activities
Collaborator Contribution Partnership in science and engagement activities
Impact None yet
Start Year 2017
 
Description BAS webpage for the work on water resources of the Upper Indus 
Form Of Engagement Activity Engagement focused website, blog or social media channel
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact The BAS webpage for the work on water resources of the Upper Indus (https://www.bas.ac.uk/project/water-resources-of-the-upper-indus-basin/) was tweeted on the BAS twitter account.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
URL https://www.bas.ac.uk/project/water-resources-of-the-upper-indus-basin/
 
Description Five separate engagement meetings with local communities in 2018 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact Five separate engagement meetings with local communities
Tristan da Cunha - community: March 2018
St Helena Conservation departments: April 2018
FCO, Tristan da Cunha government representatives: July 2018
RSPB, Tristan da Cunha representatives: Nov 2018
Invasives species workshop St Helena: Nov 2018
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Masters class on 'Energy Climate Interactions' 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact Andrew Orr was a guest lecturer at Vellore Institute of Technology, Vellore, India in spring 2018, as a guest of project partner Sat Ghosh. He gave three lectures on climate change and climate modelling for a Masters class on 'Energy Climate Interactions', within the School of Mechanical Engineering
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Public engagement at St Helena 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Media (as a channel to the public)
Results and Impact Table 16.3. Details of the public engagement at St Helena.
Date Type
13/04/18 News Story The Sentinel
13/04/18 News Story The Independent
17/04/18 Meeting Environment and Natural Resources Department
18/04/18 Field work Bird counts
18/04/18 Oceanography School field trip
18/04/18 Radio Interview Saint FM
18/04/18 Radio Interview SAMS radio
19/04//18 Radio Interview Saint FM
19/04/18 Public talk 70-80 locals in the Museum
20/04/18 Radio Interview Saint FM
20/04/18 News Story The Independent
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Public engagement at Tristan da Cunha 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Media (as a channel to the public)
Results and Impact Details of Public engagement at Tristan da Cunha
24/3/18 - 30/3/18, 1/4/18 Daily Report Administrator, head of fisheries, head of conservation
03/04/18 Tristan Newsletter For Island wide distribution
24/3/18 - 6/4/18 Daily weather Report Tristan School
31/3/18 Public Talk Local population
31/3/18 Transport Transport Island patrol vessel, Wave Rider, to the UK
2/4/18 Facebook story
2/4/18 Talk Dawn, Robin and Amber Repetto talked on the JCR about Island life.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2011,2018
 
Description Seminar on stakeholder needs 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Project partner Zareen Bharucha (Anglia Ruskin University) met with both physical and social scientists at The Energy Resources Institute (TERI) to identify relevant stakeholders and assess their needs affected by water resources in the Upper Indus region.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Three preparative meetings 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Meeting of Tristan stakeholders at the RSPB and the FCO. Northern rockhopper penguin conservation meeting at Edinburgh zoo. St Helena science meeting in St Helena
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description seminar on 'Experimental and theoretical studies on climate modelling 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Seminar on 'Experimental and theoretical studies on climate modelling at the British Antarctic Survey, Cambridge' to a general audience of both staff and students, within the School of Mechanical Engineering. by Andrew Orr
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018