University of Stirling joins global Arctic network

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Greenland, Arctic

The University of Stirling has joined a global network of organisations focused on research in the rapidly changing natural and social environment of the Arctic.

The University of the Arctic (UArctic) network was set up in 2001 to address local and global challenges of relevance to Arctic peoples and societies.

The consortium provides unique educational, research, and innovation opportunities through collaboration within a powerful network of almost 200 member institutions and organisations spanning 24 time zones in the eight Arctic countries and beyond.

University of Stirling’s membership was confirmed at the Arctic Congress 2024, a showcase of Arctic cooperation which took place from May 29 to June 3 in Bodø, Norway.

Portrait photograph of Neville Wylie. He wears a suit, short and tie, glasses.
Professor Neville Wylie, Deputy Principal (Internationalisation)

Our membership will lead to yet more collaborative opportunities to grow and strengthen our extensive research in the Arctic.

Professor Neville Wylie, Deputy Principal (Internationalisation), who represented the University at the congress in Norway, said: “It is an honour for the University of Stirling to join University of the Arctic.

“Our membership will lead to yet more collaborative opportunities to grow and strengthen our extensive research in the Arctic, and play our part in strengthening the UK and Scotland’s connections in this critically important region.”

Among the Stirling researchers working to tackle challenges facing the Arctic is Professor in Ecosystem Ecology Philip Wookey, who is currently leading an investigation into whether global warming is leading to increased carbon emissions from ecosystems in the Arctic.

The £1m project sees Professor Wookey and his team carry out innovative experiments to test whether vegetation change could turbo-charge the mycorrhizosphere – the microhabitat in soil where plant roots are surrounded by fungus – resulting in a net loss of carbon from soils to the atmosphere.

Professor Wookey has researched Arctic ecosystems for more than three decades and co-founded the UK Arctic and Antarctic Partnership.

Meanwhile, Dr Arthur Broadbent is leading a £700,000 research project to investigate how the combined effects of climate warming, shifts in vegetation, and nitrogen pollution affect mountain soil biodiversity and the release of carbon from soil, further warming the planet.

During the five-year study, Dr Broadbent will carry out experiments in Arctic and alpine mountain ranges, collaborate with globally leading mountain researchers in Switzerland, and utilise state-of-the-art facilities at the University of Stirling.

Among the other researchers working to tackle challenges facing the Arctic is Dr Anna Crawford, who uses a combination of remote-sensing and field data collection in her research of the drift and deterioration of ice islands that originate in Greenland and Arctic Canada, a collaborative project with Dr Vahid Akbari and Dr Armando Marino; Dr Tom Bradwell, whose focus is on glacier change in Iceland; and Dr Clare Bird, a marine microbiologist whose research examines the trophic interactions of foraminifera, with samples coming from polar and sub-polar seas.

Stirling researchers are also active in studying wider political, social and cultural issues relating to the Arctic. Professor Holger Nehring, who holds the chair in contemporary European History at the University, collaborates with colleagues across the region to explore the Arctic’s strategic significance from a historical and contemporary perspective.

The University of Stirling is also host to Scotland’s International Environment Centre, through which an innovation community is being created in the local Forth Valley region, driving a net zero regional economy with the intention to become a global exemplar of low-carbon growth. Researchers, who include Professor Andrew Tyler, Professor Jens-Arne Subke and Professor Evangelos Spyrakos, will provide opportunities to collaborate with UArctic members on a range of projects to help tackle and mitigate climate change, support the transition to a net zero economy, and to protect our natural environmental assets.

Professor Kirsty Park, Head of Biological and Environmental Sciences in the University of Stirling’s Faculty of Natural Sciences, said: “We are really excited to be joining this important global network. Now, more than ever, understanding the effects of environmental change in the Arctic is critical, and this is a huge opportunity for us to increase the reach of our research in this area.”

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