WP3 Environmental Risk Management

Work package leader: JoLynn Carroll, Akvaplan-niva

The exploration and development of resources in the Arctic is often characterized as involving a greater risk and severity of impacts to the environment relative to many other regions. This requires development of new environmental risk management approaches tailored to the unique exploration and future operational challenges for Arctic areas. The aim of the Environment component of the centre is to provide essential knowledge and methodology for exploration in the high north.

The industry needs to develop knowledge regarding key species and ecosystem interactions in an environment that has undergone rapid change (metrics of change), impacts of seismic operations on marine species (data and methods improvements), and monitoring, risk, and
impact methods tailored for use in northern areas (methods and assessments). The research performed in WP3 is producing new insight for industry: New knowledge and data on Arctic ecosystems and food web; new knowledge and data on the sensitivity of key species to
petroleum discharges within northern ecosystems; priority areas and time periods for exploration activities in the north; a theoretical risk uncertainty framework for the Arctic; and recommended geophysical data acquisition strategies minimizing the impact on living


To develop new environmental risk management approaches tailored to the unique exploration and future operational challenges for Arctic areas.

Key research tasks

Task 3.1: What is the impact of pelagic productivity on the benthic ecosystem?

  • Comparative analysis of benthic biomass and species composition gathered in 2016 with historical baseline information.
  • Controls of pelagic productivity (T2.1) on benthic ecosystem (T1.1)
  • Sampling of benthic transect across the Barents Sea Polar Front during the 2018 ARCEx Training and Research Cruise.
  • Analysis of benthic community structure across the Barents Sea Polar Front
  • 30 year retrospective of changes in benthic communities across the Barents Sea Polar Front.

Task 3.2: What are the main drivers of the flux of marine biomass from surface to seafloor?

  • Finalize analysis of composition and biomass of material collected in vertical traps duringthe 2016 ARCEx cruise.
  • Compare material composition and biomass with historical baseline information (fjords of Svalbard and Marginal Ice Zone).

Task 3.3: What are the toxic effects of petroleum compounds on key species in the Barents Sea?

  • Develop protocols for ecotoxicology experiments
  • Develop more biologically relevant analysis methods to assess lethal and sub-lethal effects of petroleum compounds on key Arctic species
  • Conduct experimental studies with oil exposure and dispersants on key Arctic species
  • Synthesize and review species’ sensitivity to petroleum compounds on key species in the Barents Sea

Task 3.4: What are the risk-uncertainty relationships for the Arctic?

  • Development of methods to identify health and safety events based on historical practices
  • Application of an Arctic risk-uncertainty framework for operations under harsh environmental conditions (weather, ice, darkness)
  • Geological risk analysis for shallow reservoirs

Task 3.5: How can we improve research and monitoring of animals in remote marine areas?

  • Analysis and synthesis of biological and ecological information on marine mammals to for the development of methods to minimize the impact of seismic activities (WP4)
  • Optimize the detection uncertainty when using unmanned aerial vehicles for monitoring marine mammals
  • Review and recommendations of autonomous vehicles for the detection and monitoring of marine fauna
  • Software development of a processing algorithm for body condition of wild marine mammals

WP3 news