Posts Tagged 'Arctic'

Impacts of the changing ocean-sea ice system on the key forage fish Arctic cod (Boreogadus saida) and subsistence fisheries in the Western Canadian Arctic—evaluating linked Climate, Ecosystem and Economic (CEE) models

This study synthesizes results from observations, laboratory experiments and models to showcase how the integration of scientific methods and indigenous knowledge can improve our understanding of (a) past and projected changes in environmental conditions and marine species; (b) their effects on social and ecological systems in the respective communities; and (c) support management and planning tools for climate change adaptation and mitigation. The study links climate-ecosystem-economic (CEE) models and discusses uncertainties within those tools. The example focuses on the key forage species in the Inuvialuit Settlement Region (Western Canadian Arctic), i.e., Arctic cod (Boreogadus saida). Arctic cod can be trophically linked to sea-ice algae and pelagic primary producers and are key vectors for energy transfers from plankton to higher trophic levels (e.g., ringed seals, beluga), which are harvested by Inuit peoples. Fundamental changes in ice and ocean conditions in the region affect the marine ecosystem and fish habitat. Model simulations suggest increasing trends in oceanic phytoplankton and sea-ice algae with high interannual variability. The latter might be linked to interannual variations in Arctic cod abundance and mask trends in observations. CEE simulations incorporating physiological temperature limits data for the distribution of Arctic cod, result in an estimated 17% decrease in Arctic cod populations by the end of the century (high emission scenario), but suggest increases in abundance for other Arctic and sub-Arctic species. The Arctic cod decrease is largely caused by increased temperatures and constraints in northward migration, and could directly impact key subsistence species. Responses to acidification are still highly uncertain, but sensitivity simulations suggests an additional 1% decrease in Arctic cod populations due to pH impacts on growth and survival. Uncertainties remain with respect to detailed future changes, but general results are likely correct and in line with results from other approaches. To reduce uncertainties, higher resolution models with improved parameterizations and better understanding of the species’ physiological limits are required. Arctic communities should be directly involved, receive tools and training to conduct local, unified research and food chain monitoring while decisions regarding commercial fisheries will need to be precautionary and adaptive in light of the existing uncertainties.

Continue reading ‘Impacts of the changing ocean-sea ice system on the key forage fish Arctic cod (Boreogadus saida) and subsistence fisheries in the Western Canadian Arctic—evaluating linked Climate, Ecosystem and Economic (CEE) models’

Arctic ocean acidification assessment 2018: summary for policy-makers

Some of the fastest rates of acidification are occurring in the Arctic, due mainly to the higher capacity of colder water to absorb CO2, but also due to dilution by river run-off and ice melt, and the inflow of naturally low pH waters from the Pacific. Changes are already evident in the Arctic Ocean’s marine carbonate system – which, among other things, has been shown to influence growth, reproduction and ultimately survival in some organisms. These changes may cause significant ecological shifts in the coming decades. These shifts could, in turn, have significant socioeconomic consequences, not only for Arctic communities, but more widely. These concerns were referenced in the Fairbanks Declaration of 11 May 2017, when ministers representing the eight Arctic states, and representatives of the six Permanent Participant organizations, noted “with concern the vulnerability of Arctic marine ecosystems to the impacts of ocean acidification”, and called for continuing study and awareness raising regarding those impacts and their consequences.

Continue reading ‘Arctic ocean acidification assessment 2018: summary for policy-makers’

Describing seasonal marine carbon system processes in Cambridge Bay Nunavut using an innovative sensor platform

The marine carbonate system is a critical component of global biogeochemical cycles. It determines a given marine region’s status as a source or sink for atmospheric CO2, and long-term changes (i.e. ocean acidification) that can affect key ecosystem functions. Carbonate system processes are highly-variable through space and time, which makes it difficult to fully characterize a region without either intensive sampling, or long-term deployment of high-precision instruments. Both of these are difficult in the Arctic, where challenging logistics limit sampling opportunities, and instruments must endure extreme conditions. In this work, we present the first high-resolution marine carbon system dataset covering a full Arctic cycle of sea ice growth and melt. We deployed a Satlantic SeaFET Ocean pH Sensor and a Pro-Oceanus CO2-Pro CV sensor for consecutive nearly year-long deployments onboard the Cambridge Bay Ocean Networks Canada Undersea Community Observatory from September 2015 – June 2018. The sensors measurements were compared to discrete sample references, and determined to require multipoint in situ calibration, but were representative of the greater sea surface mixed layer inside the bay through most of the year. Using a diagnostic box model approach, seasonal influencing processes on the marine carbon system at the platform were quantitatively determined. Air-sea gas exchange and biologic respiration/ remineralization were dominant in the fall, whereas following sea ice freeze-up brine rejection drove pCO2 to seasonal supersaturation with respect to the atmosphere, and the aragonite saturation state to become undersaturated. Shortly after the sun rose under the ice in the late winter, the ecosystem at the platform became net autotrophic at very low light levels, driving pCO2 to undersaturation. As sea ice melted, an under-ice phytoplankton bloom drew down a significant amount of carbon before the open water season, returning the aragonite saturation state to supersaturation at the platform. These observations show a dynamic system, where biological processes occur at times and rates previously unknown to the literature. These processes will need to be included in future biogeochemical modelling efforts, if we are to properly resolve the current, and future, role of the Arctic Ocean basin in global biogeochemical cycles.

Continue reading ‘Describing seasonal marine carbon system processes in Cambridge Bay Nunavut using an innovative sensor platform’

Threats to Arctic ecosystems

Pollution, ocean acidification and global warming are all major threats to Arctic ecosystems and are all inextricably linked. Major global air and ocean currents bring pollutants north to the “Arctic sink” where they accumulate over time, affecting ecosystems and wildlife. Meanwhile, carbon pollution from fossil fuels is causing widespread ocean acidification and global warming, which is happening two to three times faster in the Arctic than other regions. While climate change is having direct effects on Arctic ecosystems, the dynamics of pollutants within Arctic ecosystems are also being affected, enhancing pollutant mobility and effects in some cases.

Continue reading ‘Threats to Arctic ecosystems’

Marine CO2 system variability in a high arctic tidewater-glacier fjord system, Tempelfjorden, Svalbard


• The marine CO2 system was investigated in an Arctic fjord between 2015 and 2017.

• Primary production caused the largest changes observed in pCO2 and the saturation state of aragonite.

• Air-sea CO2 uptake and freshwater release governed the surface pCO2 over the melt season.

• At least a freshwater fraction larger than 50% was needed to provide aragonite undersaturated waters.

• An excess in the salinity normalized DIC, corrected for primary production/respiration, was found in the deepest water.


The marine CO2 system in Tempelfjorden (Svalbard) was investigated between August 2015 and December 2017 using total alkalinity, pH, temperature, salinity, oxygen isotopic ratio, and nutrient data. Primary production resulted in the largest changes that were observed in the partial pressure of CO2 (pCO2, 140 μatm) and the saturation state of aragonite (ΩAr, 0.9). Over the period of peak freshwater discharge (June to August), the freshwater addition and air-sea CO2 uptake (on average 15.5 mmol m−2 day−1 in 2017) governed the surface pCO2. About one fourth of the uptake was driven by the freshening. The sensitivity of ΩAr to the freshwater addition was investigated using robust regressions. If the effect of air-sea CO2 exchange was removed from ΩAr, a freshwater fraction larger than 50% (lower range of uncertainty) was needed to provide aragonite undersaturated waters. This study shows that ΩAr and freshwater fraction relationships that are derived from regression techniques and the interpretation thereof are sensitive to the effect of air-sea CO2 exchange. Since the freshening in itself only drives a fraction of the air-sea CO2 uptake, studies that do not account for this exchange will overestimate the impact of freshwater on ΩAr. Finally, in the summer an excess in the salinity normalized dissolved inorganic carbon, corrected for aerobic primary production/respiration, of on average 86 μmol kg−1 was found in the deepest water of the fjord. This excess is suggested to be a result of enhanced CO2 uptake and brine release during the period of sea ice growth.

Continue reading ‘Marine CO2 system variability in a high arctic tidewater-glacier fjord system, Tempelfjorden, Svalbard’

Transport of carbon dioxide and heavy metals from hydrothermal vents to shallow water by hydrate-coated gas bubbles

Deep-sea hydrothermal plumes are of major importance in the biogeochemical ocean cycles and in this study we focus on plumes emitted from the Jan Mayen vent fields in the Norwegian-Greenland Sea. These vent fields are of interest because of the high CO2 concentrations and also due to the different styles of venting occurring here. Venting at these sites occurs between 550 and 700 m depth and is characterized by the release of hydrate coated bubbles as well as focused flow venting. This study aims to enhance our current understanding of the impact of CO2 rich hydrate coated bubbles on the water column as well as the interaction between hydrothermally derived gases and metals in the water column. Three water column surveys were conducted in this area in between 2012 and 2014, in which the non-buoyant plume (NBP) produced by focused flow venting from both the Troll Wall and the Perle & Bruse vent sites was identified by primordial helium (3He), methane (CH4), carbon dioxide (CO2) and dissolved manganese (Mn) enrichments close to 500 m water depth. Our results show that venting of hydrate coated CO2 rich bubbles increases bubble rise height, which results in shallow acidification locally above the vent sites. A polymetallic anomaly in the mid-depth water column above the NBP is also hypothesized to be a result of the hydrate coated bubbles. We argue that nanoparticles get sequestered to the hydrate lattice and travel with the bubbles until the lattice becomes unstable due to gas expansion upon depressurization during ascent. This process could fuel the primary production in the pelagic water column.

Continue reading ‘Transport of carbon dioxide and heavy metals from hydrothermal vents to shallow water by hydrate-coated gas bubbles’

Response of the Arctic marine inorganic carbon system to ice algae and under‐ice phytoplankton blooms: a case study along the fast‐ice edge of Baffin Bay

Past research in seasonally ice‐covered Arctic seas has suggested that ice algae play a role in reducing dissolved inorganic carbon (DIC) during spring, preconditioning surface waters to low dissolved CO2 (pCO2sw), and uptake of atmospheric CO2 during the ice‐free season. The potential role of under‐ice phytoplankton blooms on DIC and pCO2sw has not often been considered. In this study we examined the inorganic carbon system beneath landfast sea ice starting midway through a bottom ice algae bloom and concluding in the early stages of an under‐ice phytoplankton bloom. During most of the ice algae bloom we observed a slight increase in DIC/pCO2sw in surface waters, as opposed to the expected reduction. Biomass calculations confirm that the role of ice algae on DIC/pCO2sw in the study region were minor and that this null result may be widely applicable. During snow melt, we observed an under‐ice phytoplankton bloom (to 10 mg/m3 Chl a) that did reduce DIC and pCO2sw. We conclude that under‐ice phytoplankton blooms are an important biological mechanism that may predispose some Arctic seas to act as a CO2 sink at the time of ice breakup. We also found that pCO2sw was undersaturated at the study location even at the beginning of our sampling period, consistent with several other studies that have measured under‐ice pCO2sw in late winter or early spring. Finally, we present the first measurements of carbonate saturation states for this region, which may be useful for assessing the vulnerability of a local soft‐shelled clam fishery to ocean acidification.

Continue reading ‘Response of the Arctic marine inorganic carbon system to ice algae and under‐ice phytoplankton blooms: a case study along the fast‐ice edge of Baffin Bay’

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Ocean acidification in the IPCC AR5 WG II

OUP book