Sand exploitation impacts

Close up view of sandASU Center for Biodiversity Outcomes Postdoctoral Research Associate Lars Iversen recently co-authored a paper called “Promises and perils of sand exploitation in Greenland,” published in Nature Sustainability. This article discusses future sand mining in Greenland and the potential impacts on the environment and local way of life. It is an attempt to discuss some of the challenges and conflicts between the protection of the local environment, climate change and the future economy of the Arctic. Abstract: Ice flow dynamics of the Greenland ice sheet control the production of sediment. Future acceleration in glacial flow and ice sheet melt will amplify Greenland’s supply of sediment to the coastal zone. Globally, sand and gravel reserves are rapidly depleting while the demand is increasing, largely due to urban expansion, infrastructural improvements and the enhancement of coastal protection in response to climate change. Here, we show that an abundance of sand and gravel provides an opportunity for Greenland to become a global exporter of aggregates and relieve the increasing global demand. The changing Arctic conditions help pave a sustainable way for the country towards economic independence. This way, Greenland could benefit from the challenges brought by climate change. Such exploitation of sand requires careful assessment of the environmental impact and must be implemented in collaboration with the Greenlandic society.