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Tipping points and ecosystem prediction 

Climate-Ocean research and tipping points are common denominators in three new EU funded research projects at the Bjerknes Centre. Christoph Heinze, Noel Keenlyside and Svein Østerhus together with Petra Langebroek received a nice pre-Christmas present, as EU gave their thumbs up for the three new projects. 

Petra Langebroek, Christoph Heinze, Svein Østerhus and Noel Keenlyside.
Petra Langebroek, Christoph Heinze, Svein Østerhus and Noel Keenlyside.

The three new EU projects span from tipping points in Antarctica, to climate prediction in the South Atlantic, and to knowledge gaps for key ocean tipping elements in the Earth system.  

Tipping points in and around Antarctica

Petra Langebroek and Svein Østerhus, researchers at NORCE and the Bjerknes Centre are together coordinating the project Tipping Points in Antarctic Climate Components (TiPACCS). 

– Our overall aim is to assess the likelihood of large and abrupt near-future changes in the contribution of the Antarctic Ice Sheet to global sea level, caused by tipping points in the Antarctic continental shelf seas and the Antarctic Ice Sheet, Langebroek says.

– We will approach this aim by using state-of-the-art ocean circulation and ice sheet models developed and run by top research centers in Europe. 

There are six partners in the consortium: University of Northumbria and British Antarctic Survey in UK, PIK and AWI in Germany, and University of Grenoble in France. They have requested 4.6 million Euros, and the project will run for four years. 

Tipping elements in the Ocean 

Christoph Heinze, professor at the Geophysical institute, UiB and the Bjerknes Centre, is coordinating the project COMFORT, with the long title “Our Common Future Ocean in the Earth System – quantifying Coupled Cycles of Carbon Oxygen and nutrients for Determining and Achieving Safe Operating Spaces with Respect to Tipping Points” 

The overall objective is to close knowledge gaps for “key ocean tipping elements within the Earth system under anthropogenic physical and chemical climate forcing, through a coherent interdisciplinary research approach”. 

In the project, the researchers will focus on three threats for the ocean: Warming, ocean acidification and deoxygentation – loss of oxygen from the oceans due to climate change. 

Heinze will lead a huge consortium with researchers in 32 partner organizations, from Europe, plus Canada, India and South Africa, including all four partner institutions at the Bjerknes Centre – the IMR, NERSC, NORCE and UiB. 

Together they aim to provide added value to decision and policy makers in terms of science based safe marine operating spaces, refined climate mitigation targets, and feasible long-term mitigation pathways.

Marine Ecosystem prediction for sustainable management 

Noel Keenlyside, professor at the Geophysical institute and the Bjerknes Centre is also leading a large consortium of researchers in the new project TRIATLAS: South and Tropical Atlantic climate-based marine ecosystem prediction for sustainable management. 

The project includes 35 partner organizations in Europe and across the tropical and South Atlantic, and also the four Bjerknes partners. 

The consortium brings together those making observations and modellers, with a main objective to enable sustainable management of human activities in the Atlantic Ocean as a whole, by closing knowledge gaps on the status of the South and Tropical Atlantic marine ecosystem and developing a framework for predicting its future changes, from months to decades”. 

The researchers in the project will achieve this by combining ecosystem observations, climate based ecosystem prediction and information on future socio-economic and ecosystem service changes, as well as close networking with relevant stakeholders and related projects and programs. 

Close to 24 million Euros in total

– It is fantastic that three large new EU projects will be coordinated from the Bjerknes Centre. This show that we have scientists in the Champions League, with the skills and international standing necessary for coordinating such large efforts. The projects are expected to move the European research front forward, and it will be exciting to see both the direct results and the more indirect spin-off results in the coming years, says Tore Furevik, director of the Bjerknes Centre. 

– With a total budget close to 24 million euros, of which 15-20% is for partners in Bergen, these projects are important for the climate research community in Bergen, both in terms of economy and activities.