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Research article2017Peer reviewedOpen access

A high arctic experience of uniting research and monitoring

Schmidt, Niels Martin; Christensen, Torben R.; Roslin, Tomas


Monitoring is science keeping our thumb on the pulse of the environment to detect any changes of concern for societies. Basic science is the question-driven search for fundamental processes and mechanisms. Given the firm root of monitoring in human interests and needs, basic sciences have often been regarded as scientifically "purer"-particularly within university-based research communities. We argue that the dichotomy between "research" and "monitoring" is an artificial one, and that this artificial split clouds the definition of scientific goals and leads to suboptimal use of resources. We claim that the synergy between the two scientific approaches is well distilled by science conducted under extreme logistic constraints, when scientists are forced to take full advantage of both the data and the infrastructure available. In evidence of this view, we present our experiences from two decades of uniting research and monitoring at the remote research facility Zackenberg in High Arctic Greenland. For this site, we show how the combination of insights from monitoring with the mechanistic understanding obtained from basic research has yielded the most complete understanding of the system-to the benefit of all, and as an example to follow. We therefore urge scientists from across the continuum from monitoring to research to come together, to disregard old division lines, and to work together to expose a comprehensive picture of ecosystem change and its consequences.

Published in

Earth's Future
2017, Volume: 5, number: 7, pages: 650-654
Publisher: WILEY

    Sustainable Development Goals

    SDG9 Industry, innovation and infrastructure

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