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Society riding on the winds of change

We do so by focusing on regime shifts and cross-scale effects, described through the concepts of adaptive cycles and ecosystem services. Offshore wind farming is shown to lead to a potential slow regime shift in the marine ecosystem, as well as a more rapid regime shift in the seascape. These shifts lead to changes in the available ecosystem services and conflicts between new and traditional sea and seascape values.

We then explore the impact of these changes on the socioeconomic system on the coast. Offshore wind farming OWF is an example of a very recent development with the potential to cause significant impacts on the social-ecological systems society riding on the winds of change Gill 2005, Punt et al.

Given the complexity of coastal and marine ecosystems and their current trend of becoming overused, it is important to understand potential consequences of OWF development and the processes that might cause social-ecological system shifts.

A key question is how OWF-induced changes manifest themselves in the ecological and socioeconomic domains and whether changes in one domain can lead to changes in the others Kinzig et al. We trace the social-ecological system responses to OWF introduction at different spatial and temporal scales. Coastal Futures was a scenario-based prospective study that established a causal chain between OWF installation, changes in marine ecosystem functions, changes in the provision of marine ecosystem goods and services, and impacts on human well-being Kannen and Burkhard 2009, Lange et al.

An interesting aspect is that these effects occur at different spatial and temporal scales, implying that relatively small changes to the marine ecosystem, in the long or short term, could have consequences further down the line at the level of the seascape or local coastal communities, again in the long or short term.

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Although it is important to consider system changes within the individual domains of the system, the full implications society riding on the winds of change OWF introduction can therefore only be understood by considering effects across domains. We seek to highlight potential regime shifts in the marine ecosystem and the possible transitions that may result from OWF development in the socioeconomic system on the coast Loorbach and Rotmans 2006, Geels and Schot 2007.

Extrapolating from OWF development scenarios and ecological and seascape-based results obtained in the Coastal Futures project, our purpose is to answer the following research questions: Do the Coastal Futures results provide evidence of potential regime shifts occurring as a result of OWF introduction?

Partly as a result of regime shifts in the sea, will OWF introduction lead to a transition in the socioeconomic system on the coast? What factors would need to come into play for this transition to occur? What theoretical framework is able to capture and describe any cross-scale effects? The third research question thus contains a methodological element, which is where our interest lies in linking concepts that have not yet been widely linked in the analysis of change in social-ecological systems.

Linking the concepts of resilience, regime shifts, and the ecosystem services approach, we develop an innovative systems-theoretical framework that allows us to put the empirical results obtained in the Coastal Futures project into a broader heuristic context, opening up avenues for further comparative research.

We begin with a brief overview of the key concepts employed in our study. We then give some insight into the case society riding on the winds of change area and the methods used for analysis. This is followed by the presentation of two extreme system trajectories that could result from OWF introduction at three scales.

We then discuss the results in the context of our theoretical framework. An equivalent concept from the social sciences is that of transition, which describes a nonlinear shift in a societal system from one dynamic equilibrium to another. Here too, four phases of change can be recognized that occur at different speeds at the micro- meso- and macrolevel Loorbach and Rotmans 2006.

Systems moving from the initial colonization phase to the conservation phase are characterized by growing connectedness, which essentially describes the density of links between the system components. Although this confers robustness, for instance by enabling communities to solve problems and build up social capital Janssen et al.

In both ecological and societal contexts, management efforts tend to be directed toward avoiding collapse Folke et al. We borrow from network theory in arguing that connectedness, expressed as the capacity to maintain or re activate nodes and links in times of crisis, is an important constituent of resilience Janssen et al. A resilient system, e. Lost nodes and links such as species or actors and practices would be replaced by others, allowing the system to retain its overall identity. In a nonresilient system, this would not be the case; the disappearance or replacement of key system elements would trigger a cascade of changes that alter the identity of the system.

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In the socioeconomic system, a nonresilient response could be a negative transition, i. Regime shifts describe significant system transformations based on temporary losses of resilience, leading to new functions, structures, feedbacks, and therefore identities Kinzig et al. This also applies to the socioeconomic system, in which regime shifts can be triggered by internal and external disruptions of the system including specific shocks or niche innovation Geels and Schot 2007.

Winds of change blowing through safe Liberal ridings on West Island

The question is whether OWF can trigger a positive system shift toward a new identity or is more likely to lead to gradual decline. A key factor determining the socioeconomic system trajectory is the alignment of the microlevel, that is, individual actors and local practices, e. Ecosystem services are the ecological, socio-cultural, and economic ecosystem benefits and values that contribute directly or indirectly to human well-being Kumar 2010. Ecosystem services provide a logical link between the ecological and socioeconomic system Bossel 2000so that changes in ecosystem service supply can be used to trace regime shifts and possible cascading effects of such shifts across scales.

In our case study, OWF-based regime shifts in local marine ecosystems would impact on the functioning of these ecosystems either limited to the scale of individual wind turbine piles and foundations or whole wind farms Petersen and Malm 2006. This may impact on provisioning ecosystem services such as food from fishery or mariculture, marine biochemicals, and wind energy supply Punt et al.

At the seascape scale, shifts in cultural ecosystem service supply come into play, leading to changes in aesthetic seascape values, spiritual services, sense of place, identity, and inspiration MA 2005, Gee and Burkhard 2010. Changes in the provision of these services are likely to impact on a multitude of benefits available to humans on the coast, potentially shifting the socioeconomic structures of the system and leading to changes in the capacity of that system to contribute to human welfare Gill et al.

For the purpose of our case study we consider resilient or adaptive responses to occur at three distinct OWF scales Fig. Each of these corresponds to a specific spatial level and can also be understood as a distinct domain or subsystem of the social-ecological system.

First is the scale of individual wind turbine piles, which represents the introduction of hard substrate on the sea floor at the same time, the smallest unit on a spatial scale or the micro- and meso-scale according to Petersen and Malm 2006. Second is the scale of one or several offshore wind farms, where OWF introduction represents a collection of new man-made structures in the sea and an impact on the seascape the intermediate level on the spatial scale or macroscale after Petersen and Malm 2006.

Third is OWF as a novel way of utilizing marine space and a new economic regime based on renewable energies the regional, national, and even international level on the spatial scale. Effects will manifest themselves at different speeds and across scales.

OWF introduction will act directly on all three subsystems, with changes in the seascape conceivably and indirectly acting on the socioeconomic system on the coast. The question is thus whether OWF introduction forces regime shifts at the respective levels and whether these are interrelated in any way. Society riding on the winds of change the majority of these OWFs have not yet been built see Fig.

Different ecological models were used to assess the environmental impacts of the assumed scenarios Burkhard et al. In a parallel investigation, interviews and expert assessments were used to evaluate the potential effects of OWF expansion on seascape values and related ecosystem services, as well as the secondary effects on human well-being in the case study area Busch et al.

Key socioeconomic characteristics of the case study area To understand the potential social-ecological system response to OWF introduction, some key characteristics of the case study region need to be described. Although subsidized agriculture also plays an important role, the region relies on tourism as its economic mainstay in terms of employment and income generated Ziesemer and Zahl 2005.

Onshore wind energy has grown considerably over recent years and is estimated to have created 1400 jobs in North Frisia Ziesemer and Zahl 2005. The density of onshore wind farms in both districts is correspondingly high, with more than 600 wind turbines in North Frisia and about 800 in Dithmarschen Kreis Dithmarschen 2009.

Despite the positive economic impact of the onshore wind industry, the socioeconomic system in the region is characterized by structural vulnerability. In the early 1990s the region was hit by comprehensive structural change and experienced a subsequent period of decline.

The special quality of the Wadden Sea coast and seascape is a key factor in marketing Hasse 2007which makes some local people and tourism operators highly suspicious of any potential threats to the seascape such as OWF e. Other vulnerability factors include the importance of external subsidies for agriculture and the wind industry, as well as negative demographic trends and a large retirement community Licht-Eggert et al.

Given this susceptibility to sudden or gradual changes in external driving forces and limited ability to compensate for structural losses from within, e. At the same time, there is an apparent paradox in that the structural weakness described above is actually counted as an advantage with respect to social system orientors at the individual level. Residents perceive life in a remote rural region and the beauty of the land- and seascape as strong contributors to quality of life and are suspicious of any change Bruns and Gee 2010, Ratter and Gee 2012.

A strong sense of identity and attachment to home, the land- and seascape, and traditions are also characteristic, as is a good measure of local pride Ratter and Gee 2012.

This goes hand in hand with the independence of the local population and their desire to be as self-sufficient in decision making as possible Bruns and Gee 2010. Offshore wind farming therefore not only represents a threat to the visual aesthetics upon which tourism depends, but also to local control.

Petersen and Malm 2006 conclude that in marine areas with little or no hard substrates, Society riding on the winds of change have the potential to completely alter the characteristics of local species composition.

This may lead to the creation of new habitats, i. Thus, at least local impacts at the scale of individual turbine piles are to be expected.

Gill 2005 expects even larger scale cumulative impacts for the whole North Sea because of several larger OWF projects adjacent to each other. Several studies Peterson and Malm 2006, Vattenfall 2009, Nilsson and Green 2011 assume minor or no negative effects on the marine environment whereas others expect major problems for birds Exo et al.

Effects of El Niño-driven changes in wind patterns on North Pacific albatrosses

Several authors list positive environmental effects related to OWF installations, such as increase in local biodiversity, artificial reef emergence, no-take fishery zones, as well as negative effects, which are mainly avian collisions, underwater noise, and electromagnetic fields Gill 2005, Inger et al. Regarding temporal scales, short-term impacts are likely to take place during OWF construction and long-term impacts during OWF operation. Coastal Futures used various ecological models to assess the likely impact of OWF installation on the marine ecosystem in the case study area Table 1; for details see Lenhart et al.

In other countries, the introduction of large-scale OWF has been shown to have impacts on the seascape Hill et al. Offshore turbines represent a visible industrialization of the sea, supporting its conversion from a natural space to a cultural seascape Wolsink 2010. In the UK for example the aesthetic impact of nearshore wind farms has given rise to widespread local concern see Save Our Scenery, www. Given the wide range of uses of other fixed installations such as oil platforms, the existing seascape must be considered a multifunctional seminatural landscape.

OWF introduces new seascape attributes, with potentially considerable effects on existing cultural ecosystem services. Coastal Futures used a customized set of cultural ecosystem services indicators to trace the value shifts that would arise through OWF in the seascape Table 1.

Riding with the Wind in Toyama - CYCLE AROUND JAPAN

Socioeconomic resilience is a highly complex entity that includes orientors at the individual level, e. At the individual level, we use survey results to evaluate the importance of cultural ecosystem services and their significance for subjective quality of life Busch et al.

Structurally, we work with the premise of existing structural vulnerability Licht-Eggert et al. These could be an economic crisis forcing tourists to stay away, cuts in subsidies to the agricultural or wind farming sector, or changes in national energy policy. This would have impacts on infrastructure, employment, and satisfaction and most likely lead to a self-reinforcing cycle of gradual decline.

Most parameters indicate resilient ecosystem behavior, meaning that processes and structures return to a state comparable to the reference conditions. One exception is seabird species diversity indicating biotic diversitywhereby permanent habitat loss is likely to result from OWF for selected species Exo et al.

  1. We then give some insight into the case study area and the methods used for analysis.
  2. This leads to two conceivable system responses Fig. Suppose this is a round trip and the wind is constant in magnitude and direction for the full round trip.
  3. The question is thus whether OWF introduction forces regime shifts at the respective levels and whether these are interrelated in any way. Since the density of air, the cross-sectional area and the drag coefficient are constant, I replaced all those with the constant K.

Further exceptions are storage capacity, abiotic heterogeneity, organization, and nutrient cycling, which all increase very slightly. This could be taken as a first indication for the emergence of a more complex ecosystem, resulting from the introduction of hard structures. At the existing OWFs, ecosystem dynamics based on rapidly settling species, e. True artificial reef emergence, e. The development of artificial reefs would indicate a regime shift that clearly contrasts with the alternative, a degradation of the existing system.

Once fully realized, the new system state would be characterized by a higher level of ecosystem functionality. The question remains up to which of the three studied spatial scales these effects would occur.

Petersen and Malm 2006 predict respective habitat alterations up to their macroscale, which corresponds to our OWF scale. Comparison to existing OWF projects and their environmental impacts is feasible up to a certain degree only because of the sheer scale of the proposed developments in Germany Fig.

If larger scale effects occur, the development of artificial reefs could have visible and measurable secondary effects on the linked socioeconomic system.