White Paper: Addressing the challenges of global warming for polar freshwater resources

The polar regions are undergoing rapid transformations due to global warming, resulting in temperature increases far surpassing the global average and significantly impacting ecosystems, especially freshwater systems. Understanding the implications of climate change on Arctic and Antarctic freshwater systems is crucial, as vital ecosystem services essential for sustaining human and environmental well-being may be disrupted. Shifts in freshwater availability due to changes in precipitation patterns, ice melt, and permafrost thaw pose significant challenges for local communities, exacerbating their vulnerabilities. Additionally, climate warming can affect water quality, e. g. by releasing pollutants and potential hazardous microorganisms, further jeopardizing human and natural ecosystem health. Arctic communities face multiple challenges in adapting to these changes, including limited resources and infrastructure that may not be resilient to environmental change. Urgent action is needed to mitigate these impacts and safeguard freshwater resources through evidence-based approaches, scientific research, policy involvement, and community engagement to ensure a sustainable future in the polar regions. In the pursuit of understanding freshwater dynamics in the Arctic and Antarctic, international collaboration across disciplines stands as a cornerstone, essential for addressing the impacts of climate change on polar freshwater resources. Initiatives aiming to understand the dynamics of transboundary water resources underscore the pivotal role of collaboration across institutions and nations, allowing for collective efforts in providing effective solutions to advance the current knowledge of polar ecosystems. Such collaboration not only benefits the polar regions but also carries implications for the global community, aligning with the UN’s SDGs. Therefore, funding mechanisms to bridge the knowledge-to-action gap and support international cooperation should be set high in the research agenda. The scientific and funding roadmap presented here should be implemented urgently, to maximise, in a 10-year term, the benefits to be gained through synergies with the next International Polar Year (2032-33). It will leverage existing transnational initiatives and frameworks, including the Antarctic governance framework, to guide future research initiatives towards sustainable management of freshwater resources. Overall, a comprehensive approach integrating pole-to-pole collaboration, strategic funding, and adherence to governance frameworks is paramount, ensuring collective efforts contribute to the well-being of polar communities and the broader global understanding of climate change implications.


Publication status:
Authors: Velázquez, D., Cirés, S., Casero, M., Rautio, C., Aromäki, M., Ballot, A, Camacho, A, Convey, P. ORCIDORCID record for P. Convey, De Los Ríos, A., Diez-Chiappe,, A., Fournier, C, Kujala, K, Lezcano, M.A., Manso, C., Quesada, A., Rødven, R., Terrado, M., Urrutia-Cordero, P., Wilmotte, A, Workamp, K, Wörmer, L.

On this site: Peter Convey
31 May, 2024
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