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Live from Scandinavia: News from our Laure Waridel Laureate!

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Dear Équiterre community,

As this year’s Laure Waridel bursary winner, I’d like to share with you the highlights of my activities over the past few months.

Stockholm Resilience Centre Internship

From March to June, I had the opportunity to do an internship at the Stockholm Resilience Centre in Sweden. This interdisciplinary research centre specializes in sustainable development with an emphasis on resilience, which relates to my PhD on the impact of climate change on marine ecosystems and Inuit communities in the Canadian Arctic. Resilience is the capacity of a system, such as the biosphere, to deal with change and continue to develop sustainably. Studying resilience is about generating knowledge and developing measures to strengthen natural and human systems so they can cope with environmental pressures, like climate change. Resilience promotes innovation and the transformation of our systems into greener, more sustainable models.

Swedish bus powered by biofuels, mostly produced by converting local waste.
© Marianne Falardeau-Côté

Public transit boat in Stockholm.
© Marianne Falardeau-Côté

Stockholm: Example of an effective energy transition

I’m really impressed by Stockholm’s diverse and very accessible public transit network, which includes buses, tramways, local trains, a metro system and ferries. It’s an excellent example of how to create a resilient, sustainable system. The vast majority of buses run on biofuels, mostly produced by converting local waste and sludge. The city’s goal is to have a public transit system 90% powered by renewable energies by 2020 and 100% by 2030. The 90% target was hit in 2013 and the city is on track to achieve 100% way before 2030! That’s what you call an effective energy transition!

Gamla stan, the Old Downtown Stockholm.
© Marianne Falardeau-Côté

The goal of my internship at the Stockholm Resilience Centre was to learn about participatory modelling, an approach that involves developing future scenarios that show the impact of various environmental pressures on ecosystems and their societal implications. I’ll be leading a scenario-based participatory modelling workshop in Nunavut next winter as part of my PhD and this internship has helped me lay the groundwork. The future scenarios will focus on the Arctic marine environment in Nunavut in a context of rapid change.

International workshop and Finnish Arctic study trip

During my time in Sweden, I also took part in an international scenario workshop, which was held as part of a large-scale project, Seeds of Good Anthropocenes. The perspectives of scientists, artists and professionals from different backgrounds were combined in an effort to plan for the future of Northern Europe. It was a very innovative exercise.

And I made a short trip to the Finnish Arctic to visit a renowned interdisciplinary research centre, the Arctic Centre, or Arktikum. I presented my research on the Canadian Arctic and learned more about studies being conducted in the European and Russian Arctic. It was a unique opportunity to meet interdisciplinary researchers working together on studying the Arctic.

Rovaniemi, at the doors of the Finnish Arctic.
© Marianne Falardeau-Côté

Lake in the Finnish Arctic.
© Marianne Falardeau-Côté

Making a presentation in the Arctic Centre, a renowned interdisciplinary Arctic research centre in Finland.
© Marianne Falardeau-Côté

Scientific journal publication

In collaboration with three colleagues, I recently published a paper in Polar Biology entitled First Records of Pacific Sand Lance in the Canadian Arctic Archipelago. We show that the Pacific sand lance, a fish species normally found in the Pacific Ocean, has become established in the Canadian Arctic archipelago over the past few years. Due to the warming of the world’s oceans, many marine species are migrating north and are now found in the Arctic Ocean. The results we present were obtained from biological sampling carried out on the scientific research icebreaker CCGS Amundsen between 2011 and 2016. The invasion of the Pacific sand lance in Arctic waters could affect the entire marine ecosystem, as it may compete with Arctic fish and potentially replace them in the diet of marine mammals and birds.

Back in Canada

I’m back in Montreal now to continue working on my PhD at McGill University. This summer, I’ll be running a workshop at a day camp, the Camp de l’Île, where I will familiarize kids with the arctic fauna and flora and talk about the importance of preserving healthy nordic ecosystems. I’m also preparing a workshop to be held in various Quebec schools in the autumn.

You can find out more about my project and watch my video presentation on the Équiterre website, as well as on my blog.

I’ll be sure to keep you posted on my next activities. Have a great summer!

Marianne Falardeau-Côté