Raising awareness about oil spill response in the Arctic marine environment

Nina O`Manlon, University of the Highland, presenting models for ecological effects in seabird. Photo: Emelie Skogsberg

I attended “Raising awareness about oil spill response in the Arctic marine environment” Science session. As a master student majoring in ecotoxicology, consequences of oil spills lays close to heart. Specially now with increase interest from industry to explore possibilities of extracting oil in the Arctic and increase shipping traffic in the area.

Particularly interesting to hear were the progress in models to predict the fate of oil from spills in the marine environment with ecological effects in seabirds, which is of increasing importance with declining population numbers. Models of ecological effects on seabirds calculates the species vulnerability based on population demographic trends and life history traits, and match this up to distribution data in order to identify “hotspots” of vulnerable species at different location. At present this model only concerns seabirds, however there are possibilities for this to be used for other animal groups in the future. One important future goal is to be able to use this for management purposes for restrictions in off-shore industry and shipping. This kind of models are not unique, for instance at the University of Oslo research is being done regarding effects on oil spills on recruitment of fish populations.

Listening to what kind of methods there are for cleaning up the marine environment from oil spills, I realise how challenging this task really is and how important it is to have actions in place for quick assessments and clean up. When introducing this problem to the Arctic, which has its own challenges, this task seems daunting. However, there are new technologies that are advancing, for instance the use of drones, satellites, and models that will help prevent accidents and aid clean-up actions, hopefully minimize the effects from oil pollution in nature.

By Emelie Stina Linnea Skogsberg, Masters, University of Oslo





DISCLAIMER: These posts are contributions from participants in Arctic Frontiers Young Ambassadors program and do not necessarily reflect the views of Arctic Frontiers.

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