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PhD offer (M/F) - Impact of climate change on Arctic storms and their ecological and societal implications (TEMPARC)

This offer is available in the following languages:
Français - Anglais

Date Limite Candidature : lundi 10 octobre 2022

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General information

Reference : UMR5175-DAVGRE-002
Workplace : MONTPELLIER
Date of publication : Monday, September 19, 2022
Scientific Responsible name : David Grémillet and Fabrice Ardhuin
Type of Contract : PhD Student contract / Thesis offer
Contract Period : 36 months
Start date of the thesis : 1 December 2022
Proportion of work : Full time
Remuneration : 2 135,00 € gross monthly

Description of the thesis topic

Impact of climate change on Arctic storms and their ecological and societal implications (TEMPARC)
The Arctic is warming three times faster than the rest of the planet (IPCC 2021). This region is predominantly maritime, and global changes are having profound effects on aquatic ecosystems (Post et al. Sci. Adv. 2019; Lewis et al. Science 2020). In these changing landscapes, seabirds and first peoples appear to share a common fate (Hargan et al. PNAS 2019). Arctic first peoples are primarily coastal and closely tied to the aquatic environment and its resources (Hauser et al. Env. Res. Lett. 2021). Seabirds are therefore economically and culturally essential to Arctic peoples as a food base and key component of founding narratives (Young et al. Ecol. & Soc. 2014). Consequently, these populations are highly sensitive to the fate of seabirds; a sentinel species group that informs them of environmental change. This sensitivity to charismatic marine animals extends to non-native Arctic populations, with implications for public opinion, policy makers, and conservation strategies (Barry et al. Glob. Env. Change 2020). It is therefore essential, and urgent, to better understand the socio-ecological impacts of Arctic environmental change on seabirds and their associated peoples. In this context, Arctic depressions and cyclones have only recently been studied (Finocchio et al. Geo. Res. Lett. 2020), as well as their impacts on birds and humans in a warming Arctic context (Høyvik-Hilde et al. Ecol. Evol. 2016). In summer, the high Arctic (>70°N) is normally an area of high atmospheric pressure characterized by stable weather conducive to bird nesting and human movements associated with hunting and fishing activities. As a result of Arctic warming, these conditions now appear to be disrupted (Henderson et al. Front. Earth Sci. 2021), and we hypothesize an increase in the frequency and amplitude of marine lows and cyclones in summer. Second, we hypothesize that these summer storms affect the ecology of seabirds and their selective value (e.g., breeding rates), as well as the daily lives of Arctic residents who depend on sea conditions for economic and recreational activities.
By combining climatological analyses of Arctic storms, an eco-evolutionary approach to the consequences of these extreme weather events on seabirds, and sociological assessments of their impacts on the sea movements of Arctic inhabitants, this interdisciplinary thesis project will test the links between Arctic climate warming, depressions/cyclones, and the fate of seabirds and Arctic peoples, exploring their common fates in the face of global change.The TEMPARC project is funded by the GDR OMER (https://ocean.cnrs.fr/) and covers the 4 main axes of this initiative (https://ocean.cnrs.fr/axes-de-recherche/): (1) It will be carried out in the context of representations of seabirds within pan-Arctic cultures, and their heritage value as standard-bearers for the conservation of Arctic marine environments. In addition, it will integrate sociological analyses of the movements of Arctic First Peoples exposed to storms. (2) We will work on the diagnosis and characterization of marine systems, studying the climatology of summer storms to test the hypothesis that these storms have increased in frequency and amplitude over the past decades. In addition, biologging of seabird movements at sea (GPS and 3D accelerometry) will allow us to test the impact of storms on their spatial ecology, as well as on their selective value through their reproductive success. We will also test the impact of storms on the summer activities of the First Peoples via semi-structured interviews. (3) We will extend the time frame of the study to 2050, through modeling of climate processes and bioclimatic simulations of marine bird habitats and offshore movements of Arctic inhabitants in the context of their traditional uses of marine resources and different global warming scenarios. (4) All of this work will contribute significantly to the conservation of Arctic marine socio-ecosystems, by filling in our current gaps in knowledge about the links between Arctic warming and summer storms, as well as the consequences of these extreme climatic events on emblematic species of Arctic biodiversity, and on the daily life of indigenous peoples. The knowledge gathered will be made available to the scientific community, the public and the decision makers of the Arctic Council.

Work Context

This thesis, based at CEFE in Montpellier, will be co-supervised by David Grémillet (CEFE-CNRS Montpellier; https://davidgremillet.com/) and Fabrice Ardhuin (LOPS-CNRS Brest; https://www.umr-lops.fr/Le-Laboratoire/Contacts/Pages-perso/Fabrice-Ardhuin). We will benefit from our combined expertise on ocean-wave-atmosphere couplings (F. Ardhuin), and on seabird ecology in the context of global change (D. Grémillet). In addition, D. Grémillet recently directed a thesis at the interface between ecology, climatology and modeling Clairbaux et al. Curr. Biol. 2021; Glob. Change Biol. 2021), which will provide many of the methodological tools required. He also supervised a post doc at the ecology-sociology interface (Wheeler et al. Cons. Biol. 2019), largely based on semi-structured interviews. In order to strengthen its expertise on traditional knowledge, the co-supervision team will collaborate with Jean-Michel Huctin (Berman et al. Clim. Change 2020), an anthropologist at CEARC (UVSQ), and analyses of representations of seabirds in Arctic arts and letters will be carried out in collaboration with Marie Chandelier (Chandelier et al. Biol. Cons. 2018), a linguist at the Praxiling laboratory (UMR 5267, Montpellier). Moreover, this work will fit perfectly with the activities of the international group Wind Waves in Earth Sciences, chaired by F. Ardhuin, with the research of the IPEV program ADACLIM, co-directed by D. Grémillet and J. Fort (LIENSs, UMR7266), and with the SEATRACK network in which they participate. These programs, and the international networks of collaborators that support them, will facilitate access to climatological and ecological data. The candidate will contribute to the collection of these data during two field campaigns in Greenland (as part of the IPEV-funded ADACLIM program), and through semi-structured interviews already underway under the leadership of D. Grémillet (East Greenland) and Jean-Michel Huctin (West/East Greenland; SEMPER-ARCTIC program). Applications for funding are also being made, if necessary, to conduct interviews in Canada, Russia and Alaska. This thesis program will allow the candidate to explore an innovative theme and to answer questions directly inspired by the First Peoples of the Arctic who are rightly concerned about their future and that of Arctic biodiversity in a context of rapid warming of this region. The program will also allow the candidate to acquire formal and technical knowledge in a wide variety of fields, combining climatology, ecology, sociology, and linguistics, and to establish a vast network of collaborations.

Constraints and risks

Fieldwork in remote areas and field assignments that may involve travel for one to two months.

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