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What we do not know about the Arctic

Actic expeditions - very expensive as well as time consuming and sometimes dangerous. Researchers Hakim Abdi and Daniel Metcalfe about unevenly distributed research.
Ice and rocks by the water on Greenland
Easy access on water in Greenland. But what about more remote areas in the Arctic? Photo: Margareta Johansson, INES

The Arctic is a remote and hard to reach area, which affects where research expeditions go and where climate scientists set up their field experiments. "The result is an extremely uneven concentration of research effort", states Hakim Abdi and Daniel Metcalfe in their article in the science news website The Conversation. Despite the melting glaciers and struggling polar bears being symbols of climate change, the Arctic is not as scientifically well-known as we think, the researchers claim.

They explored the geographic distribution of research in an article published in the journal Nature Ecology and Evolution, looking at almost two thousand publications going as far back as 1951. According to their findings, Arctic research is concentrated around two field sites – Toolik Lake in Alaska and Abisko in Sweden – where one-third of all study citations were from areas within 50 km of these sites.

It is time to fill the knowledge gaps and, in the wake of climate change, to really understand the fastest warming region in the world, they conclude in the Conversation article.

 

Hakim Abdi is Postdoctoral fellow at the Dept of Physical Geography and Ecosystem Science at Lund University. His research is focused on remote sensing, sustainability, climate impacts and land use.

Daniel Metcalfe Senior Lecturer at the Dept of Physical Geography and Ecosystem Science at Lund University. His research is about climate, biogeochemical cycles and plant and animal communities, from the Arctic to the tropical cloud forests.

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Lund University
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