Impacts of climate change on the marine ecosystem and aquaculture in northern Norway

Climate change is affecting our natural and built environment in a multitude of different ways. In terms of ecosystem impacts, climate change can result in positive or negative feedback effects in ecosystems, with the potential to fundamentally change the way ecosystems are structured or function. Oceans and consequently their marine environments are but one example of ecosystems experiencing large, unprecedented changes due to climate change. The Arctic is a critical area of focus for ocean ecosystem research, due to it being the fastest warming area globally under climate change. Northern Norway’s ocean ecosystems are one of the most vulnerable to climate change, given the extensive aquaculture industry in the region among other reasons. Aquaculture in Northern Norway accounts for 40% of the overall Norwegian fishing industry and is one of the main local economy sources in the region, providing both jobs and food to the local community. The Harstad / Narvik area is one of the top aquaculture areas in Northern Norway, with several large-scale fish farms and more to be developed in the years to come. However, despite the importance of this industry in both the local and national, and international scale, there is little in-depth research on how future ocean temperatures will affect local aquaculture in Northern Norway (sea-based aquaculture). Decisions taken by industry require knowledge and persuasion, but an eventual shift towards climate adaptive practices takes time. New knowledge in the form of climate adaptive practices can help to address future challenges in this industry. Various risks climate change presents to the aquaculture industry in Northern Norway in the years to come will be treated in this project, also work along with industry partners will be emphasized to develop clear risk treatment and climate change adaptation strategies that can support the aquaculture industry to adapt to our changing oceans in the decades to come.

Therefore, this research thereby helps addressing Changing Arctic’s focus areas on safeguarding food security and welfare. Part of the PhD student’s task will be to help develop a series of ocean temperature models, based on different climate change scenarios, that can be used to develop a robust and comprehensive risk analysis as well as proper industry-, local- and farm-level risk treatment and adaptation options regarding the aquaculture industry in Northern Norway, looking specifically at the Harstad /Narvik region as a case study region.

The supervisory team for the candidate will be interdisciplinary and integration into the Climate Change Research Group will facilitate the generation of climate change scenarios, risk analysis and stakeholder engagement for the aquaculture industry in Northern Norway.

It is expected that the PhD-candidate participates in field experiments or/and collection of necessary field data. The PhD-candidate is encouraged to work transdisciplinary and collaborate with PhD-candidates/projects within topics such as natural hazards, cryospheric hazards, decision and risk analysis, stakeholder management etc.


Dina Abdel-Fattah (Principal investigator)
Stian K. Kleiven (Principal investigator)
Frithiof Svenson