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Arctic Secrets: NATO Probes Climate Change Effects


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Scientists and engineers from NATO’s Science and Technology Organisation’s Centre for Maritime Research and Experimentation (CMRE) have embarked on two crucial research missions to investigate the impact of climate change in the Arctic. These missions, conducted aboard the NATO research ship NRV Alliance, aim to provide valuable insights that will help NATO adapt its strategies and technologies to the rapidly changing Arctic environment.

Research Missions and Objectives

The two missions, NREP 24 (Nordic Recognized Environmental Picture) and ACO 24 (Arctic Climate Observatory), will focus on different aspects of the Arctic’s transformation:

NREP 24: This project, funded by NATO’s Allied Command Transformation (ACT) and supported by partners from France, Norway, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, and the United States, will examine changes in sound propagation in the central Barents Sea. This area, where Atlantic and Arctic water masses meet but do not mix, is critical for understanding how sonar performance and other underwater technologies are affected by the Arctic’s changing conditions. The mission will run from June 8 to July 12, 2024.

ACO 24: Funded by the NATO Science and Technology Organisation (STO) – Office of the Chief Scientist (OCS), this mission aims to collect long-term environmental data, including marine biology, water movements, and the soundscape of the region. This information is essential for developing a comprehensive understanding of the Arctic’s environmental changes. Partners in this mission include France, Norway, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom.

Strategic Importance

The Arctic’s strategic importance has increased significantly due to its environmental changes. The melting ice caps and shifting oceanic conditions have opened new maritime routes and potential areas for resource extraction. These changes pose both opportunities and challenges for NATO, requiring enhanced capabilities and updated strategies to maintain security and operational effectiveness in the region.

Sonar Performance and Underwater Technology

One of the key focuses of the research is how climate change affects sonar performance. The transformation of the Arctic environment, particularly changes in water temperature and salinity, can significantly impact sound propagation underwater. This affects the operation of submarines, uncrewed underwater vehicles, and other maritime capabilities. By understanding these changes, NATO can adapt its technologies to ensure effective operation in the new conditions.

Environmental Data Collection

The long-term collection of environmental data through ACO 24 is vital for building a detailed picture of the Arctic’s evolving climate. This data will help in predicting future changes and planning accordingly. It will also contribute to broader scientific understanding, benefiting both military and civilian efforts to address climate change.

Collaboration and Future Outlook

Both research missions highlight the importance of international collaboration. CMRE’s efforts are supported by a reach-back team working from various research institutions across allied countries, ensuring comprehensive data analysis and processing.

NREP 24 continues a multi-year oceanographic research project initiated in 2017, underscoring the ongoing commitment to understanding the Arctic. ACO 24, in its second iteration since its launch in 2023, represents a long-term investment in environmental research.

NATO’s proactive approach

NATO’s proactive approach to studying the Arctic’s changing environment demonstrates its commitment to adapting to new challenges posed by climate change. The insights gained from these missions will not only enhance NATO’s strategic capabilities but also contribute to global efforts to understand and mitigate the impacts of climate change. As the Arctic continues to evolve, NATO’s research initiatives will be crucial in ensuring security and stability in this strategically important region.

Credit: Mr. Waseem Qadri, Editor also contribute this article

News Desk, where most of the News Item edit for THE THINK TANK JOURNAL

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