The role of Arctic sea ice in climatic and ecological processes

Lead Research Organisation: University of Oxford
Department Name: Geography - SoGE

Abstract

In the last century Arctic sea ice has declined, both in extent and thickness. This trend has accelerated to the point where a summer ice-free Arctic Ocean is expected in the next decades. This represents an unprecedented change in scale and speed of sea ice-melt, unique for at least millennia, and also possibly in the history of human civilisation.

The impacts of melting sea-ice are predicted to be wide-ranging, from alterations in the distribution of local terrestrial and marine fauna and flora, to changes to the earth's climate systems and ocean circulatory patterns: large shifts in the distribution of marine fauna and plankton, reductions in the habitat of key species such as the polar bear, or an enhanced Arctic-mid-latitudes climate connection responsible for colder winters in Europe are amongst these impacts. Sea ice is a key part of Arctic climate and ecology. Its white surface acts as a mirror for the incoming solar rays, which are largely reflected back into space, instead of penetrating the ocean and getting trapped in our planet. Sea ice loss increases the amount of heat entering our planet, further accelerating warming. Sea ice melt also creates great volumes of freshwater, interfering with the global oceanic circulation. Arctic sea ice loss thus plays a big role in further warming the Arctic (which warms much faster than lower latitudes). This enhances plant growth, causing large changes in the tundra. Plus, many plants and animals have evolved in landscapes with sea ice that are now changing. The consequences of this for animals such as the polar bear, the Arctic fox, Arctic whales and seals, and Arctic plants remain poorly understood.

The anticipated large effects on climate and ecology are to date largely unquantified, due to the fact that Arctic biologists and climatologists are confronted with scarce and short information of past environmental conditions. The compilation of long environmental records for the Arctic would allow testing many questions about the effects of a rapidly changing environment. A much needed long (covering thousands of years) record of sea ice conditions for the whole Arctic is thus lacking.The aim of the proposed project is to produce it to answer key questions with direct implications for our society, namely: how changes in Arctic sea ice affect the global climate and the high latitude biota, and what can we learn from this for the future?

Past sea ice conditions are inferred from the analysis of material collected in the Arctic that constitutes evidence of past sea ice presence or absence (sea ice proxies). This material consists of molecules and microscopic organisms in dated sediment at the bottom of the ocean, ice cores and tree rings affected by sea ice, scars made by ice on beaches, and animal and plant remains like whale bones or driftwood. This project proposes a collaborative effort to combine all this information and produce a full Arctic picture of past sea ice dynamics.

Of all sea ice proxies, driftwood is the only one informing not only of past sea ice condition, but also of the drift routes sea ice took to deliver driftwood from the moment it entered the ocean to the moment it got deposited on Arctic beaches. Since the Arctic is so cold, driftwood is well preserved for more than 10,000 years. Existing material will be analysed using new techniques that can inform with improved precision about past sea ice extent and drift routes. Arctic expeditions will be organized to collect new material for key regions and periods.

This will help the scientific community to answer questions about the role of sea ice in Arctic climate and biology and its global consequences. It will also put current changes in a larger framework and improve our understanding of the effects that this huge environmental change will have on our planet, which is what I find most important and exciting about this research proposal.

Planned Impact

Arctic sea ice decline constitutes one of the most dramatic environmental processes on Earth ever witnessed by humankind, and the questions tackled by this project are especially timely within the current context. Being able to test an understand in a quantitative way hypotheses concerning the effects of changing sea ice to regional climate and ecology will potentially benefit not only Arctic researchers, but also will provide basic information for conservation strategies in the area and for a number of policy actors. Beneficiaries from this project will be:

1. Academic beneficiaries: ranging from a wide spectrum of disciplines, these will benefit from the conclusion of this research project but also by the use they will make of the databases produced during its completion. Please refer to 'Academic Beneficiaries' and 'Case for Support' sections of this proposal for further information on this.

2. Industry: large resource-extractive industries (both non-renewable - mining, oil and gas, and renewable - fisheries) will greatly benefit from the deeper understanding of the effects a decline on sea ice will have on several taxa (including marine and terrestrial mammals, fish, marine molluscs, vascular plants, lichens, birds, or plankton) and on key weather events relevant for the transport and infrastructure development in the area.

3. Local communities: results from this research project will provide local communities with new and improved tools to plan the future warmer Arctic, and to strengthen and concrete their claims.

4. Local/regional/international governments and NGOs: a deep understanding of the long-term relationships between sea ice and the Arctic biota and climate provide extremely useful planning tools to devise adaptive strategies under a series of scenarios.

Project results, aimed at being disseminated through the development of multiple deliverables (Peer-reviewed papers, Academic conferences, Summary for policy makers, a Webpage, and a Video - please read 'Pathways to Impact'), aim to contribute to a more resilient Arctic planning and conservation, as well as to a more realistic picture of the actual climatic and ecological effects of the current sea ice decline in the Arctic. The time frames for this effect are within the next few years to few decades, potentially aiding to attain better future adaptability of societies and Arctic biota. The would as well contribute to placing British polar science in an agenda-setting position.

Publications

10 25 50
 
Description 2015
Key findings/milestones during the last 12 months (the first of the 5yr IRF):
1. Fieldwork
A successful field trip to Nordkapp in northernmost Norway to collect driftwood samples to be used in methodological developments. Plus, a field trip to northern Finland to collect tundra shrub material to be used in dendrochronology.

2. Methodological advances
Three out of the four initial proposed methodologies to determine the provenance of arctic driftwood (which gives information on past sea ice occurrence and movement) have been successfully tested and shown to work: dendrochronology, wood anatomy, and radiogenic isotopes. Of these, radiogenic isotopes had never been applied to driftwood. Radiogenic isotopic work has been performed partly in collaboration with Prof Don Porcelli's team at the Department of Earth Sciences, University of Oxford. The fourth method (ancient DNA extraction) will be tested during the current month, in collaboration with the "Palaeobarn" research team at the University of Oxford, led by Prof Greger Larson.

Nitrogen isotopic work has also been successfully applied to tundra shrubs (for the first time) and full chronologies depicting Nitrogen availability by tundra vegetation or the 20th century will soon be developed.

3. Edition of a Special Issue - Biology Letters (Royal Society Publishing)
One of the objectives of the 5yr project is the edition of two special issues in international peer-reviewed journals. The one on the coupling between sea ice and Arctic biota is fully under way at the Royal Society journal Biology Letters. It counts with over 20 contributions (all research-based papers on the topic) and it will be published before the end of 2016. A session on the topic was organised at the 2015 AGU Fall Meeting in San Francisco, convened by Marc Macias-Fauria and Eric Post (Penn State, USA).

4. Research outcomes
Intense work has been done on the impact of climate change on the tundra ecosystem. Two high-profile publications have resulted, one in Nature (co-led by Marc Macias-Fauria), which identifies the tundra ecosystem as a hotspot of sensitivity to climate globally, and another one in Nature Climate Change, which focuses on the finer grain sensitivity of the tundra biome to climate change. More publications re being prepared on this topic, which tackle sea ice directly (at least two more high-profile publications are expected or 2016).

2016
Key findings/milestones during the last 12 months (the second of the 5yr IRF):
1. Fieldwork
Two 8-day expeditions to the Svalbard Archipelago were done in the summer of 2016, with ~100 new pieces of driftwood collected. PhD student Georgia M. Hole attended one of these expeditions. A major expedition is planned for 2018. The summer of 2017 will be devoted to visiting Canada and the USA to resample and analyse existing driftwood collections.

2. Methodological advances
Nitrogen isotopic work has been successfully applied to tundra shrubs (for the first time) and full chronologies depicting Nitrogen availability by tundra vegetation or the 20th century have been developed. Nitrogen isotope chronologies can be used to infer nutrient status through time and space of tundra vegetation. Andrew Martin (the PhD student developing this work) plans to use oxygen isotope ratios as well to reconstruct snow depth and provenance using the same shrub material. This has involved the building of newly equipment - explained above. Moreover, a review on controls on tundra shrub growth has gone through several drafts already and should soon be submitted.

3. Edition of a Special Issue - Biology Letters (Royal Society Publishing)
Finalised, except for one remaining paper. More than 15 papers published altogether.

4. Research outcomes
A. Rain-on-snow during winter with a return to freezing temperatures in the tundra can form a thick layer of ice that cause reindeer starvation due to their inability to access the lichens and grasses underneath the snow layer. Such events can be catastrophic. We found links between the occurrences of this events in the Yamal Peninsula of Siberia and sea ice conditions in the Barents and Kara Seas. Results were published in Biology Letters in 2016.

B. Tundra productivity and sea ice: a study based on remote sensing data from Svalbard has been finalised and led by Marc Macias-Fauria. The study shows very clearly that the influence of sea ice on tundra productivity depends on the distance and quantity of sea ice to the shore during the growing season, and that such coupling can be broken of sea ice is absent or away from the shore in this key period of the year. The study has been submitted and is currently under peer review.

C. A map of biomes for Northern Eurasia was produced using an extensive network of fossil pollen for the region, showing changes in biome distribution from 21ka to the present (i.e. from the last glacial maximum to the present). This work was published in Quaternary Science Reviews.


2017
Key findings/milestones during the last 12 months (the second of the 5yr IRF):
1. Fieldwork
No Arctic fieldwork in 2017, but two visits were made to Canada (Alberta and Ottawa) to collect existing driftwood material, which resulted in dozens of new samples from Arctic Canada.

2. Methodological advances
The Strontium driftwood provenance work continues and we will have a methodology paper out this year. We are currently investigating the effects of wood size in the Sr ratios.

3. Edition of a Special Issue - Biology Letters (Royal Society Publishing)
It closed on February 2018. The last paper is a review paper led by me (Macias-Fauria & Post). In total, 16 peer-reviewed paper have been published in this issue.
4. Research outcomes
A. The linkages between sea ice and tundra productivity in Svalbard were explained in a paper published in Scientific Reports in 2017 (Nature Publishing Group) and led by me (see publications). Sea ice close to land during the growing season advects cold air on the adjacent land and limits terrestrial vegetation growth.

B. Holocene Arctic Ocean surface currents variability inferred from Arctic driftwood were described in a paper published in 2017 in Journal of Geophysical Research - Oceans (Hole & Macias-Fauria). The interplay between the Beaufort Gyre and the Transpolar drift during the last 10,000 years is described as changing in frequency and position, accelerating in the last two millennia.

C. The systematic review on controls on tundra vegetation was published in Environmental Research Letters (led by Andrew Martin). Major geographical and conceptual research gaps were identified.

D. A collaboration paper in which I was involved dealt with invertebrate herbivory across the tundra biome, and was published in Polar Biology in 2017.

2019

A. Two PhD projects supervised by me and with topics directly linked to my NERC IRF are in their last weeks before submission. One has extensively studied ways to mechanistically model tundra shrub growth and its environmental controls (Andrew Martin); the other one has focussed on the use of Strontium Isotopes as a provenance tool for arctic driftwood within the objective of improving Arctic sea ice reconstructions (Georgia Hole). An estimated 4 or 5 publications will stem from them in the coming months, all related to my NERC IRF.

B. Fieldwork. New driftwood material was collected from Northern Svalbard in the summer of 2018.

C. Fieldwork. New shrub dendrochronological material and driftwood material was collected from Cherskii in northern Yakutia in September 2018.

D. Fieldwork. New remote sensing drone material was collected from Svalbard in August 2018.
Exploitation Route The methodological advances will most probably be applied by many other researchers once they are published and made available to the research community.

The Biology Letters special issue on the coupling between Arctic biota and sea ice is the first compilation on this topic and should be very highly cited. It will serve as a key reference to have if one aims at understanding the wide range of ways in which these systems are interlinked.

The published material has had high impact in the research community and beyond, having been reported by international outlets such as the BBC, the New York Times, or the Washington Post, among many others.
Sectors Aerospace, Defence and Marine,Agriculture, Food and Drink,Education,Energy,Environment

 
Description 2015 One of the three publications directly linked to the award this year is a Chapter on ecosystem services in the Arctic for which I am the lead author and which belongs in a document commissioned by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the Arctic Council (a high-level intergovernmental forum that addresses issues faced by the Arctic governments and the indigenous people of the Arctic. It has eight member countries: Canada, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Russia, Sweden, and the United States). The chapter gives an overview of the ecosystem services provided by nature in the Arctic and addresses their status, trends, and knowledge and data gaps. This report (http://arcticteeb.net) was presented at the 2015 Arctic Council ministerial meeting held in Canada, which counted with the presence of high-profile representatives from the 8 Arctic countries, including U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry. Although I am unable to specify how these findings will be used in policy-relevant action at the moment, their discussion and presence in such an event is relevant beyond academia and span full societal aspects in the Arctic. The award holder will track future impacts of this kind of actions closely. Such types of actions were explicitly stated in the NERC IRF plan. A website has been designed highlighting Polar Research at the University of Oxford (www.polar.ox.ac.uk). This is one of the initial objectives of my NERC IRF project. 2016 I worked with a team of climatologists on a very large press release at the end of 2016 on the extremely anomalous winter conditions experienced in the Arctic. The press release, led by Climate Central, named "Climate change causes record warmth at Santa's home", and with the collaboration of researchers from the Universities of Oxford and Melbourne, as well as the Dutch Meteorological Service, was featured on worldwide media outlets just before Christmas and my part in it was to explain the effects of sea ice on extreme weather events leading to reindeer mortality. The piece was also featured in "The Conversation" by a member of the team. Among the many news it generated, I share in here the link to Time, which included a video: http://time.com/4616520/arctic-warm-winter-humans-climate-change/ Such news should have a clear impact on the way society perceives climate change and its effects. Their impact is difficult to measure but the magnitude of the attention it generated beyond academy was large. A paper stemming from such study is planned, with imminent submission (Spring 2017). 2017 The Arctic driftwood paper published at JGR in the autumn of 2017 had a wide press coverage and was selected by the American Geophysical Union for a focused press release. I was awarded a Departmental Inspiration Fund that enables the payment of a person to work on the Oxford University Polar Website. 2019 The Special Issue on the impacts of sea ice in Arctic biota is now fully published and can be accessed at https://royalsocietypublishing.org/topic/special-collections/effects-of-sea-ice-on-arctic-biota . The issue was widely covered in a press release last spring, and it entirely stems from the NERC IRF efforts.
First Year Of Impact 2015
Sector Environment,Security and Diplomacy
Impact Types Cultural,Societal,Economic

 
Description Presentation of publication on an intergovernmental ministerial meeting (Arctic Council)
Geographic Reach Multiple continents/international 
Policy Influence Type Implementation circular/rapid advice/letter to e.g. Ministry of Health
URL http://arcticteeb.net
 
Description Astor Visiting Lectureship
Amount £2,000 (GBP)
Organisation University of Oxford 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start 01/2018 
End 01/2018
 
Description Departmental Funding to purchase Lab Equipment
Amount £6,500 (GBP)
Organisation University of Oxford 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start 03/2017 
End 09/2017
 
Description Departmental funding for purchasing laboratory equipment
Amount £2,500 (GBP)
Organisation University of Oxford 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start 03/2016 
End 12/2016
 
Description John Fell Fund
Amount £7,500 (GBP)
Organisation University of Oxford 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start 01/2018 
End 01/2018
 
Description School of Geography and the Environment Inspiration Fund
Amount £2,815 (GBP)
Organisation University of Oxford 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start 07/2017 
End 12/2018
 
Description School of Geography and the environment Travel Grants
Amount £750 (GBP)
Organisation University of Oxford 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start 01/2018 
End 12/2018
 
Description Travel Grant
Amount £500 (GBP)
Organisation University of Oxford 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start 02/2017 
End 02/2017
 
Description Travel Grant
Amount £450 (GBP)
Organisation University of Oxford 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start 03/2017 
End 04/2017
 
Description Travel grant from the School of Geography and the Environment
Amount £500 (GBP)
Organisation University of Oxford 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start 02/2016 
End 05/2016
 
Title Development of the methodology needed to sample shrub dendrochronological material for isotope analysis 
Description PhD (and NERC DTP awardee) Andrew Martin has made a large effort to develop the methodology needed to extract samples from the very small growth rings of Arctic shrubs in order to analyse Nitrogen and Oxygen isotopes in them. This has involved the construction of a semi-automatic drilling machine - which has been funded from an equipment grant from the School of Geography and the Environment. Andrew Martin has in addition developed the modelling approach to interpret the isotopic ratios at the individual level and assess the degree of Nitrogen limitation and snow influence in the growth of these shrubs. 
Type Of Material Biological samples 
Year Produced 2018 
Provided To Others? No  
Impact Nitrogen limitation is one of the several potential controlling mechanisms that affect tundra productivity: being able to quantify its role at decadal scales is essential to understand the dynamics of the tundra ecosystem, and how it might affected by environmental change, including warming temperatures and sea ice decline. 
 
Title Methodological advances in the study of Arctic Driftwood Provenance 
Description Three out of the four initial proposed methodologies to determine the provenance of arctic driftwood (which gives information on past sea ice occurrence and movement) have been successfully tested and shown to work: dendrochronology, wood anatomy, and radiogenic isotopes. Of these, radiogenic isotopes had never been applied to driftwood. Radiogenic isotopic work has been performed partly in collaboration with Prof Don Porcelli's team at the Department of Earth Sciences, University of Oxford. The fourth method (ancient DNA extraction) will be tested during the current month (March 2016), in collaboration with the "Palaeobarn" research team at the University of Oxford, led by Prof Greger Larson. Nitrogen isotopic work has also been successfully applied to tundra shrubs (for the first time) and full chronologies depicting Nitrogen availability by tundra vegetation or the 20th century will soon be developed. 
Type Of Material Biological samples 
Provided To Others? No  
Impact It is too early to say. The immediate impact is a boost to the NERC IRF research project, since it guarantees robust results in the most important part of the project. The new methods will be presented at a workshop to be held in Reykjavik (Iceland) in late April 2016. 
 
Title Methodological advances in the study of Arctic Driftwood Provenance: an update (2018) 
Description There has been effort in obtaining ancient DNA from driftwood samples. The first attempts at the PalaeoBarn were unsuccessful. However new tests are in progress in collaboration with the University of Copenhagen, Denmark. Apart from this, Ph.D. student Georgia Hole is about to go to Canada to re-sample old driftwood pieces collected in the last decades with the new techniques we have developed. In 2018, we are finalising the setup of the Strontium provenance analysis and we aim at publishing it. 
Type Of Material Biological samples 
Year Produced 2016 
Provided To Others? No  
Impact A novel estimation of Arctic sea ice extent and drift routes during he Holocene. Whereas there are other proxies for sea ice extent, our estimation of sea ice drift routes will be completely novel and should shed light on the relative role of temperatures and ocean currents on past Arctic sea ice dynamics. 
 
Title Existing Driftwood Database 
Description An extensive and comprehensive search for already existing Arctic driftwood material has been undertaken. The database boasts hundreds of samples from many Arctic regions collected over the last several decades. A review is now under progress which will present the database. 
Type Of Material Database/Collection of data 
Provided To Others? No  
Impact It is too early to say, but the first impact relates to the NERC IRF, which will use this database as a basis for further research and further new material collection. The database will be made available once published. 
 
Title New Collected dendrochronological samples 
Description Arctic tundra shrub material collected from the Siberian Far East, the Yamal Peninsula in north-westernmost Siberia, and northern Fennoscandia in Euorpe. 
Type Of Material Database/Collection of data 
Year Produced 2018 
Provided To Others? No  
Impact This material is new and it is currently (as of March 2019) being analysed. It will be published during 2019, and it aims at addressing the influences of sea ice on tundra terrestrial productivity, as well as the potential role of nutrient limitation in arctic shrub growth. 
 
Title New collected driftwood 
Description Over the summer 2016 two 8-day expeditions were conducted in the Svalbard Archipelago in the high Arctic, in which around 100 samples of driftwood were collected and are currently being analysed. They are currently stored at the School of Geography and the Environment, University of Oxford. Samples were collected from the shores and elevated beaches of the Seven Islands (Sjuøyane) in Northernmost Svalbard, and northern Spitsbergen. 
Type Of Material Database/Collection of data 
Provided To Others? No  
Impact Most of the driftwood is young (i.e. it dates from the 20th and 21st century). It will provide a great material to test the validity of driftwood as a sea ice proxy in ways that have never been done before. 
 
Title Pan-arctic leaf and stem samples of Betula nana (dwarf birch) 
Description The collection of this dataset stems from a collective call to Arctic researchers in 2016 in order to obtain samples of living dwarf birch from around the arctic. It currently consists of samples from 207 sites all around the pan-Arctic distribution of this species and its sister species Betula gandulosa. Its objective is a phylogenetic analysis. 
Type Of Material Database/Collection of data 
Year Produced 2019 
Provided To Others? No  
Impact The dataset is currently being analysed with the collaboration of Prof Eidesen at the University Centre in Svalbard, and within the PhD project of NERC DTP student Maria Dance. The study aims at studying the role of sea ice as a dispersal driver in the Arctic Ocean during the Holocene. Results are expected to start coming during 2019 and a publication in 2020. After this, the dataset will become available. 
 
Description Dendrochronological analysis of driftwood 
Organisation University of Oxford
Department Department of Zoology
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution This collaboration was already planned in the initial NERC IRF project. It involves the use of the dendrochronological equipment existing at the Long-term Ecology Laboratory led by Prof Kathy Willis. A significant part of the money needed to purchase the equipment in that laboratory was raised by Marc Macias-Fauria during his years as a post-doc in Kathy Willis' research group, and an agreement was reached by which I would be able to sue those facilities during the course of the NERC IRF project. The lab is being used by two NERC DTP students currently co-supervised by Marc Macias-Fauria (Georgia Hole and Andrew Martin). All material analysed relevant to the project has so far been provided by Marc Macias-Fauria and collaborators.
Collaborator Contribution The use of the facilities and lab space free of charge.
Impact The wood anatomical and dendrochronological methodologies needed to determine the provenance of arctic driftwood have been developed thanks to this collaboration. The collaboration is not multi-disciplinary.
Start Year 2015
 
Description Genetic analysis of tundra plant material 
Organisation University Centre in Svalbard
Country Norway 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution We provide tundra shrub samples from all across the Arctic for a phylogenetic study. Further, a new NERC DTP student (Maria Dance) will spend time at the University Centre in Svalbard learning to analyse these samples.
Collaborator Contribution Expertise in phylogenetic analyses of arctic plants. Time teaching the NERC DTP PhD student to make the analysis in their laboratory at the University Centre in Svalbard.
Impact A phylogenetic study of one of the dominant plant species in the arctic tundra (Betula nana, the dwarf birch) which aims at answering if sea ice has indeed been a dominant dispersal driver in the Arctic during the Holocene.
Start Year 2019
 
Description Geochemistry isotopic analysis of driftwood 
Organisation University of Oxford
Department Department of Earth Sciences
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution My Department (The School of Geography and the Environment) does not have the facilities at the moment to perform radiogenic isotopic analysis needed in my IRF project: the Department of Earth Sciences does. Our partnership - which involves the co-superviion of a NERC DTP candidate, Miss. Georgia Hole - has made the development of a key methodological aspect in the analysis of driftwood provenance in the Arctic possible. We have provided material (arctic driftwood) and the project has paid for lab costs - running the very expensive machinery needed to this end plus the consumables.
Collaborator Contribution On the partners side, the collaboration was involved the use of research lab space for free at the Department of Earth Sciences and expert advise on methodologies.
Impact Although described in more detail under Key Findings in Additional Questions, the successful development of the radiogenic methodology to study the provenance of Arctic driftwood is key in this project and has been possible thanks to this collaboration. This collaboration is interdisciplinary, and it involves the fields of physical geography, biology, and geology.
Start Year 2015
 
Description Holocene palaeo-environmental studies in Svalbard 
Organisation University Centre in Svalbard
Country Norway 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Collection of environmental proxies in Svalbard during two field campaigns in the summer 2016. Planning of future field campaigns for the summer of 2018. Commitment to radio-carbon date old pieces of driftwood collected on Arctic shores by our team and the team led by Ólafur Ingolfsson at the University Centre in Svalbard (UNIS).
Collaborator Contribution Collection of environmental proxies in Svalbard during two field campaigns in the summer 2016. Logistics and co-funding in the organisation of the 2016 Svalbard field campaigns.
Impact New sampled material, including ~100 samples of driftwood, and multiple organic datable samples from raised beaches (mostly shells and whale bones) for the purposed of sea level studies. Three lake cores from Spitsbergen lakes finely laminated. Planned workshop in Svalbard the Autumn 2018.
Start Year 2016
 
Description Sea ice and terrestrial productivity in Svalbard using Remote Sensing 
Organisation Norut Northern Research Institute
Country Norway 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution I have worked with a) MODIS-derived data on terrestrial plant productivity and b) high resolution weekly sea ice extent and concentration data for the sea region around the Svalbard archipelago analysing the coupling between the two fields.
Collaborator Contribution Stein-Rune Karslen at NORUT provided the remote sensing dataset, fully curated, that I have been using.
Impact See Scientific Reports 2017 paper. I presented the results in a workshop in Svalbard in October 2017.
Start Year 2015
 
Description Tundra shrub material sharing 
Organisation University of Eastern Finland
Country Finland 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution During the last two years I have contributed to field work within a project funded by the Academy of Finland and led by Prof Bruce Forbes at the Arctic Centre (University of Lapland). During these field campaigns in the Eurasian Arctic, large amounts of wood material from tundra vegetation have been collected with the aim of doing dendrochronological studies that can lead to the understanding of the responses of vegetation in the Arctic tundra to changes in the environment. Indeed, high impact publications have resulted from this material (e.g. Nature Climate Change - 2 publications, Global Change Biology, Earth-Science Reviews). In Oxford we want to analyse a trait of tundra vegetation (trends in availability to nitrogen) that has never been analysed previously in the Arctic. We thus need the wood in order to perform thesis analyses. This work is done with the work of a NERC DTP student (Mr Andrew Martin), who also helped in field work last summer in Northern Scandinavia.
Collaborator Contribution The partners have paid or my expenses (and Andrew Martin's) in the field. They have also analysed the collected wood dendrochronologically - i.e. they have polished the collected wood material, dated it, and measured the yearly increments in order to produce chronologies of woody annual growth that span most of the 20th century. They have as well sub-sampled the material we have asked for and sent it to Oxford for Nitrogen and Oxygen analyses.
Impact Several publications in the past. Regarding the NERC IRF project, the successful testing of the methodology needed to extract nitrogen isotopes from wood tundra shrubs.
Start Year 2008
 
Description Tundra shrub material sharing 
Organisation University of Lapland
Department Arctic Centre
Country Finland 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution During the last two years I have contributed to field work within a project funded by the Academy of Finland and led by Prof Bruce Forbes at the Arctic Centre (University of Lapland). During these field campaigns in the Eurasian Arctic, large amounts of wood material from tundra vegetation have been collected with the aim of doing dendrochronological studies that can lead to the understanding of the responses of vegetation in the Arctic tundra to changes in the environment. Indeed, high impact publications have resulted from this material (e.g. Nature Climate Change - 2 publications, Global Change Biology, Earth-Science Reviews). In Oxford we want to analyse a trait of tundra vegetation (trends in availability to nitrogen) that has never been analysed previously in the Arctic. We thus need the wood in order to perform thesis analyses. This work is done with the work of a NERC DTP student (Mr Andrew Martin), who also helped in field work last summer in Northern Scandinavia.
Collaborator Contribution The partners have paid or my expenses (and Andrew Martin's) in the field. They have also analysed the collected wood dendrochronologically - i.e. they have polished the collected wood material, dated it, and measured the yearly increments in order to produce chronologies of woody annual growth that span most of the 20th century. They have as well sub-sampled the material we have asked for and sent it to Oxford for Nitrogen and Oxygen analyses.
Impact Several publications in the past. Regarding the NERC IRF project, the successful testing of the methodology needed to extract nitrogen isotopes from wood tundra shrubs.
Start Year 2008
 
Title Software for the microdrill 
Description The software, developed by Andrew Martin, will facilitate the use of a micro drill that should automate the sampling of wood for isotopic analyses. 
Type Of Technology Software 
Year Produced 2018 
Impact This should speed up exponentially the sub-sampling of wood for dendro-isotopical analyses. 
 
Description Talk to high school students interested in Geography through lecturing at the A level Geography Day @ the Museum of Natural History, Oxford 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact Engagement with high school students interested in Geography through lecturing at the A-level Geography Day @ the Museum of Natural History, which received very positive feedback from both students and high-school teachers who attended it. I presented the Arctic as a region in change and introduced the students to sea ice dynamics.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016