Waters of Health 2020 is a new action on climate change combining Indigenous and scientific knowledge in monitoring in the Finnish-Norwegian borderlands and in the Murmansk region, Russia, funded by the Nordic Environmental Finance Corporation – NEFCO.
Waters of Health 2020 expands a monitoring network for northern climate change in Murmansk region (Ponoi river) and in Finnish Lapland (Näätämö). We know that the rapidly proceeding climate change influences biodiversity in these catchment areas. Ground work has been laid out in the previous decade on monitoring in order to detect change in these areas.
Three new locations in the region are included in our work:
- Voronye river catchment
- lake Lovozero
- lake Vuonnijavr in the Murmansk region
Simultaneously the monitoring work in Ponoi and Näätämö has been expanded. Documented Community-based monitoring (CBM) observations are being analyzed by scientific experts in the Nordic partner institutions to provide a socio-ecological view of these central water ways.
Please see here for the 2020 work report.
Key messages from 2020 monitoring season are
- Atlantic salmon, a keystone species of the region, was observed to be smaller and less in numbers, especially in the Näätämö system and parts of Ponoi.
- Changes to the cryosphere, i.e. snow and ice formation, quality and melt events continue. In November 2020 water temperatures above 10 C normal were detected in Teno system, close to Näätämö in Finland. Emerging data from oral histories indicate that in 1920s Ponoi used to freeze in September, now the freeze-up can be delayed to November.
- Droughts (despite big snow amounts in the previous winter) and algal blooms were observed in several parts of Ponoi. In Spring floods and ice dams were noticeable especially in Kanevka.
- On the White Sea coast, navaga stocks were doing well and seemed to be thriving and according to Indigenous knowledge the fish operates in three-year-cycles. Lump fish was observed to dwindle.
- Beluga whales are healthy and in large numbers on the White Sea coast.
- Changes to bird populations especially on Ponoi were observed. Predator birds seemed to dwindle, and this will be monitored also in 2021.
- Ecological baseline of Arctic char, perch, salmon and sea trout was conducted on Näätämö and this work will continue in the context of plastics and fish stocks in 2021.