The transformation of the Arctic due to climate change has wide-ranging impacts on the region’s people and ecosystems, not least because of the increasing accessibility of a more and more open Arctic Ocean. This concerns specifically the wide Arctic continental shelves that are expected to contain thus far undiscovered oil and natural gas resources. Against this background, geosciences can provide policy makers and stakeholders with essential knowledge to better understand and consequently respond to the uncertainties inherent in Arctic change processes.
To highlight current and potential geoscientific contributions for a better understanding of the Arctic System, the Federal Institute for Geosciences and Natural Resources (BGR), the German Arctic Office at the Alfred Wegener Institute Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research, GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel, and the Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies e.V. Potsdam organized a workshop at the BGR in Hannover on 31 January and 1 February 2018, generously funded by the German Science Foundation (DFG). Leading experts from various geoscientific backgrounds provided key note talks on the changing environment in the Arctic, geological and climatic history, natural resources and exploration activities, impacts of hydrocarbon exploration and exploitation, and governance and the legal regime of the Arctic.
On day two of the workshop the participants, including senior and early career researchers from geosciences, environmental assessment, economics, political science and law, and humanities from Germany and abroad, formed three breakout groups to develop input for geoscientific contributions for a better understanding of the Arctic system. The groups focused on “Past, Present and Future of the Arctic”, “Natural Resources: exploration and exploitation”, and “Economic, legal and social risks and impacts”. The results of the breakout groups will provide a roadmap for a white paper outlining concrete ideas how geosciences in interdisciplinary cooperation with other disciplines can contribute to cutting edge Arctic research efforts and science-policy-society interactions. Recipients of the white paper include among others the German Science Foundation and the International Arctic Science Committee (IASC).