INTERACT was an infrastructure project under the auspices of SCANNET, a circumarctic network of 33 terrestrial field bases in northern Europe, Russia, US, Canada, Greenland, Iceland, the Faroe Islands and Scotland. INTERACT specifically sought to build capacity for research and monitoring in the European Arctic and beyond, and offered access to numerous research stations through the Transnational Access programme. The Cairngorms ECN site was included in this.
The project, which was funded by the EU, had a main objective to build capacity for identifying, understanding, predicting and responding to diverse environmental changes throughout the wide environmental and land-use envelopes of the Arctic. This is necessary because the Arctic is so vast and so sparsely populated that environmental observing capacity is limited compared to most other latitudes.
INTERACT was multidisciplinary: together, the stations in INTERACT host thousands of scientists from around the world who work on projects within the fields of glaciology, permafrost, climate, ecology, biodiversity and biogeochemical cyscling. The INTERACT stations also host and facilitate many international single-discipline networks and aid training by hosting summer schools.
Access to the Arctic
INTERACT station managers and researchers have established partnerships that are developing more efficient networks of sensors to measure changing environmental conditions and the partnerships are also making data storage and accessibility more efficient through a single portal. New communities of researchers were offered access to Arctic terrestrial infrastructures while local stakeholders as well as major international organisations were involved in interactions with the infrastructures.
The trans-national access component was crucial to building capacity for research in the European Arctic and beyond. INTERACT offered access to 20 stations in the northernmost Europe and the Russian Federation. It provided opportunities for researchers to work in the field in often harsh and remote locations that are generally difficult to access. In return, the input of new researchers led to cross fertilisation, comparative measurements at different locations and new research directions at the individual infrastructures.
Since the project, many of the participating organisations and research stations have continued to collaborate.