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Project CLEAN addresses the cumulative impact and risk associated with multiple stressors in High North ecosystems.

Kollasj av fisk, labutstyr og sjø
Project period
The Fram Center
Involved from Niva
Maeve McGovern

About the project

The project investigates how climate change, short and long-range transported pollutants, species invasions, and human activities, such as harvesting and aquaculture, jointly affect ecosystems, including their goods and services. Further, CLEAN evaluates the management challenges and options for reducing cumulative impact.

Research activities focus on five case studies, CS1 Pasvik river, CS2 Terrestrial and CS3 Coastal areas in Northern Norway, CS4 Barents Sea and CS5 Svalbard. The case studies are chosen based on socio-economic importance, natural value, current ecological knowledge, and relevance to management processes in Norway. The research activities across cases will map human activities and stressors (WP1), assess the exposure of species including their contaminant load (WP2), evaluate sensitivity based on biological knowledge and experimental effect studies (WP3), quantify the cumulative impact on populations, communities and ecosystem goods and services (WP4), predict cumulative effects based on statistical and process models (WP5), assess vulnerability to, and risk to ecosystem and society from multiple stressors (WP6), and investigate challenges and options for sustainable management of multiple stressors (WP7). The research activities will focus on ecological targets and stressors of relevance for the ecosystem’s health and management. The populations and communities considered include plankton, benthos, fish, birds, and mammals, relying on the best available data from ecosystem surveys and long-term monitoring programs.

CLEAN will advance understanding of complex causation involved in a cumulative impact, by addressing direct and higher-order effects, and synergies between stressors, via experimental studies, statistical modeling of field data, and process models. The project relies on novel analytical tools and indicators for the assessment and quantification of cumulative impact on populations and communities, covering cross-scale biodiversity implications and impact on ecosystem functioning, addressed by integrating traits-based and food web approaches.

For predictions of ecological impact over 5-10 years, relevant to strategic management, CLEAN will rely on multiple stressors forecasts and statistical models of abundance and distribution of populations and communities. For scenario-based predictions, considering alternative management decisions, and for long term projections, the project will rely on process models such as IBM models of fish populations and the spatially explicit Ecospace model for the Barents Sea food web.

Evaluations of ecosystem vulnerability and integrated assessments of cumulative risk for the five case studies, building on project outcomes, will help inform management plans and sustainable solutions. Evaluation of management processes across case studies to identify challenges and opportunities, and development of effective means of communication of scientific findings to stakeholders and decision makers, will ensure management impact of the project.

Overall, project outcomes will advance knowledge and understanding of multiple stressors in High North ecosystems, will inform management plans, and will help identify sustainable management solutions to multiple stressors. Further, the project will help to develop, harmonize and unify approaches to multiple stressors research across disciplines and ecosystems, and promote capacity building within Fram Centre and the Arctic research community, thereby contributing to the sustainable management of High North ecosystems.

Prosjekt illustrasjon


Lead Institution: UiT, The Arctic University of Norway (Raul Primicerio)


Akvaplan-niva, Institute of Marine Research, Norwegian Meteorological Institute, NILU – Norwegian Institute of Air Reserach, NIVA – Norwegian Institute of Water Reserach,  Norwegian Polar Institute, UiT – The Arctic University of Norway, UNIS – The University Center in Svalbard. NINA – Norwegian Institute of Nature Research, NIBIO – Norwegian Institute of Bioeconomy Research, NIKU – Norsk institutt for kulturminneforskning, NOFIMA – The Norwegian Institute for food, fishery and aquaculture research, SINTEF Ocean.

Funding: FRAM – High North Research Centre for Climate and the Environment.