Partnership to Advance Prediction of Noise Impacts on Arctic Marine Wildlife
Navigating the New Arctic (NNA) is one of NSF's 10 Big Ideas. NNA projects address convergence scientific challenges in the rapidly changing Arctic. This Arctic research is needed to inform the economy, security and resilience of the Nation, the larger region and the globe. NNA empowers new research partnerships from local to international scales, diversifies the next generation of Arctic researchers, enhances efforts in formal and informal education, and integrates the co-production of knowledge where appropriate. This award fulfills part of that aim by supporting planning activities with clear potential to develop novel, leading edge research ideas and approaches to address NNA goals. It integrates aspects of the natural environment and social systems, and addresses important societal challenges, builds significant educational opportunities, and engages internationally and with local and Indigenous communities.
Underwater noise caused by human activities poses a threat to marine wildlife and is a significant global environmental concern. However, sources of underwater noise, such as marine shipping and energy production, are vital components of the global economy. In the Arctic, marine mammals, fish, and other wildlife potentially impacted by underwater noise also provide invaluable subsistence, cultural, and community benefits to Arctic residents. Shipping and industrial development are projected to increase substantially in Arctic waters, with differing noise sources and environmental concerns across specific regions creating a growing need to fill gaps in understanding and prediction of noise impacts. Research on impacts of underwater noise is especially limited in Arctic waters where access to animals and habitat are more restricted by the extreme environment. However, local and Inuit residents possess incomparable experience and expertise about ecosystems, animal behavior and seasonal movements, and how to safely access and observe wildlife in the Arctic marine environment. Through this NNA-Incubator Grant, we will develop partnerships for convergent research guided by local and Inuit knowledge, leadership, and expertise in two Arctic regions to answer questions regarding impacts of noise on marine mammals and fish species vital to Arctic social and natural systems.
The goals of this project will be accomplished by leveraging existing long-term passive acoustic monitoring projects in two locations in the Canadian Arctic. Research partnerships and a collaborative framework will be co-developed through connecting the US anchoring institution with a local hunters and trappers organization in Nunavut, the regional Inuit government in Nunatsiavut, and a Canadian-based nongovernmental organization focused on community-based conservation. The project will involve periodic in-person meetings, community engagement with summary follow-up, and a synthesis phase. All outputs will be the result of equal partnership and collaboration between Inuit and project partners from outside the Arctic. Activities at every stage will be carried out through co-mentorship between local, regional, and international collaborators and participants. Along with co-development of noise impacts research and long-term monitoring, specific plans will be developed for dissemination and broader impact activities. Our aim is to ensure that the results of the research are shared in a timely manner with resource managers, decision-makers, community members, and the public. The success of this project will yield the additional benefits of developing a broad local, regional, and international collaborative framework focused on building place-based, community-based research and long-term ecological monitoring applicable to other locations in the Arctic and beyond.