GREBE Report on the Influence of Environmental Conditions in NPA & Arctic Regions

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Global climate change impacts Europe in many ways, including: changes in average and extreme temperature and precipitation, warmer oceans, rising sea level and shrinking snow and ice cover on land and at sea. These weather phenomenons have led to a range of impacts on ecosystems, socio-economic sectors and human health and safety. There is no doubt that the changes in climate will have a strong impact in our daily life, whether we accept extreme weather conditions as a new phenomenon or not. Adaptation to the past history data, present observed and future predicted impacts will in the coming decades be needed, as well as be complementary to global climate mitigation actions. Narvik Science Park has made a report on this in the GREBE-Project.

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Background

The harsh climatic conditions experienced in many NPA regions, particularly high north and arctic regions, present significant challenges to SMEs and start-ups that can seriously impact on the viability of their businesses. Winter storms regularly occurring in the high north, known as polar lows or arctic weather fronts, can bring about sudden and extreme drops in temperatures, with debilitating ice and snow conditions developing quickly. Also, in the North West Europe the influence from the North Atlantic Oscillation give rise to storms, resulting in high winds and precipitations. These conditions frequently give rise to unsafe working conditions and suspension of business operations, particular in the case of technology installations. Operational environments in these areas are often vulnerable irrespective of climatic conditions, given their isolated, remote locations, far away from technical maintenance staff, and which are often difficult to access by road, air or sea. Businesses located in these areas must compensate for fragile and less robust parameters, in order to cope with unforeseen sudden disturbances (for instance, climate change effects).

There are significant climate challenges in the partner regions with different types of harsh weather. Low temperature, hard winds, and rain/ snow conditions can be extreme in the NPA regions. The question is – how to find the best process conditions for business in remote NPA communities, where knowledge transfer is an important aspect. A harsh local/regional climate, sparsely populated areas together with rural geographic related issues and poor infrastructure have a tendency to bias the company’s business models.

Effects on GREBE regions in Northern Europe

Findings from the work of NSP – In the northeastern part of Europe there is a high societal disturbance caused by wind, rain and in some sense also freezing rain. Since the occurrence of harsh weather conditions are not frequent, the effect will be more palpable. In comparison the norther part of Europe, i.e. Iceland has a frequent presence of high wind conditions that in this case will be more of a “normal” continuous state in daily weather.  In the northeast coastal regions of Europe, the weather is more unpredictable with suddenly arising storms, i.e. polar lows, delivering both rain/snow and windy conditions. In the mainland northeast regions there are precipitation and in conjunction with this often cold climate.

“Local extreme weather” – The weather impact on societal infrastructure in the different NPA regions is considered to be affecting the business activities. The phenomenon of “local extreme weather” is serious for the single business when affects and may have serious consequences to compete in an open market. The trends in towards more local extreme weather is indicating the following spread in northern Europe:

  • Ireland/Northern-Ireland – Wind & Storms
  • Scotland – Rain & Wind
  • Iceland – Wind & Cold
  • Norway – Snow & Cold
  • Finland – Ice & Snow

The economic outcome is then a vulnerable factor in these NPA regions that gives a negative bias for local business and a non-favorable competitive disadvantage compared to similar businesses in other EU regions.

The Regional readiness

The readiness from the society to handle harsh weather and local “extreme” conditions varies from country to country in northern Europe. The regional readiness in local “extreme weather conditions” should be an important measure when establishing new enterprises and a serious risk analysis should be made before each activity starts, by taken in account the possibility for weather disturbance. Based upon the description below from each GREBE partner region, an indicative regional or even local perception has to be defined. The overall measure that indicates some connection between local “extreme weather frequency” and a corresponding indication of society readiness can be of great value. This opens for a discussion and action plans or even a business strategy plan, concerning suddenly weather extremes that are changing in a fast manner, like for example in frequency and behavior. This will also reflect the current climate change in coherence with business activities that we are experiencing and specifically when it is expected to make the biggest noticeable effect on the environment in the Arctic and sub-arctic regions. The regional readiness in society is of great importance when considering time loss of energy, restriction in transportations or not operational production.

However, the impact of “local extreme weather” is considered manageable and moderate in most of the northern EU regions. The frequency of these weather phenomenons can be severe when an indirect impact occurs, e.g. avalanches, coldness, strong winds and flooding will also in the future cause disturbances in the society. These occurrences mainly affect the accessibility to production plants and the mobility of staff. Nevertheless, there is always a high risk that the safety aspect will in each situation not be fully understood. The “local extreme weather” is always important to relate to for both personnel and business operations.

Conclusions –  climate effects on society business

  1. Regional cooperation – The widely spread geographical areas of northern Europe, is experiencing a number of joint challenges in relation to its location, but also possible opportunities that can be overcome and realized by regional cooperation. The experience from each region may be introduced to other Northern European areas and innovations from different parts in society can be used to create specific growth initiatives and common efficient business opportunities of the European Northern and Arctic regions in a climate efficient way. One major impact of challenges and initiatives in business operations is the influence of weather conditions on society and in the extension also SME business operations and productivity located in these areas.
  2. Strategic handling – Today, many operators in society refer to weather as a restriction in budget and argue that it is a phenomenon that has an actuable impact on business. However, the weather can be a strong benefit for the business when an updated insight into the specific local conditions is available and by using a strategic handling document based upon regional knowledge and experience from other businesses. Even national weather organizations are today providing companies this service.
  3. Variety of weather – The final implication is that a change in weather pattern will result in a variety of weather phenomenon that can affect the NPA regions in a different matter. There are different effects on the society, depending upon the specific region, i.e. flooding, wind, and disturbance on roads by fallen trees and avalanche.

You can download the report from the GREBE Project website:

http://grebeproject.eu/wp-content/uploads/2016/10/GREBE-Report-on-the-Influence-of-Environmental-Conditions-in-NPA-Arctic-Regions.pdf

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