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The changing Arctic ocean: consequences for biological communities, biogeochemical processes and ecosystem functioning

The changing Arctic ocean: consequences for biological communities, biogeochemical processes and ecosystem functioning
The changing Arctic ocean: consequences for biological communities, biogeochemical processes and ecosystem functioning
The Arctic region is undergoing some of the most rapid rates of climate change in the world [1], with dramatic transformations underway in terrestrial, coastal and offshore environments that have immediate and long-term consequences for socio-ecological systems (e.g. [2–5]). Significant changes in the type, extent and thickness of ice cover [6], meltwater input [7] and water mass dynamics [8], coupled with warming and ocean acidification [9], have already begun to impact ecosystem processes and the flora and fauna that inhabit a range of Arctic habitats [10]. The pace of change is such that our understanding of the way in which Arctic systems are structured and function is outdated, and insufficient to inform management, mitigation and adaptation efforts across the region [11,12]. Projections indicate that, even if global stabilization of temperature below 1.5°C is realized, changes will continue to manifest over an extended period, perhaps even millennial timescales [13] and may include unprecedented shifts in structure [14]. Changes to key components of Arctic ecosystems are already occurring, yet the collated evidence of how changes to baseline conditions are proceeding across the Arctic Ocean is still poorly constrained [15], focused on a limited number of exemplar areas [16], and seldom adopts a holistic view that begins to provide a nuanced understanding of the modus operandi of the Arctic [17]. This is concerning because informed decision- and policy-making benefits from a broad understanding of system dynamics, including feedbacks and the likelihood of ecological surprises [18], yet the focus of study is already shifting from the natural sciences to social sciences and humanities to meet legislative and policy demands [19]. Now more than ever, foundational concepts and evidence are needed to support sustainable management and policy, preferably with a focus on continually acquiring, interpreting and applying new interdisciplinary knowledge to enhance understanding [20].
benthic-pelagic coupling, biogeochemical fluxes, ecosystem futures, environmental gradients, multiple stressors, seasonality
0080-4614
Solan, Martin
c28b294a-1db6-4677-8eab-bd8d6221fecf
Solan, Martin
c28b294a-1db6-4677-8eab-bd8d6221fecf

Solan, Martin (2020) The changing Arctic ocean: consequences for biological communities, biogeochemical processes and ecosystem functioning. Philosophical Transactions of The Royal Society A, 378 (2181). (doi:10.1098/rsta.2020.0266).

Record type: Editorial

Abstract

The Arctic region is undergoing some of the most rapid rates of climate change in the world [1], with dramatic transformations underway in terrestrial, coastal and offshore environments that have immediate and long-term consequences for socio-ecological systems (e.g. [2–5]). Significant changes in the type, extent and thickness of ice cover [6], meltwater input [7] and water mass dynamics [8], coupled with warming and ocean acidification [9], have already begun to impact ecosystem processes and the flora and fauna that inhabit a range of Arctic habitats [10]. The pace of change is such that our understanding of the way in which Arctic systems are structured and function is outdated, and insufficient to inform management, mitigation and adaptation efforts across the region [11,12]. Projections indicate that, even if global stabilization of temperature below 1.5°C is realized, changes will continue to manifest over an extended period, perhaps even millennial timescales [13] and may include unprecedented shifts in structure [14]. Changes to key components of Arctic ecosystems are already occurring, yet the collated evidence of how changes to baseline conditions are proceeding across the Arctic Ocean is still poorly constrained [15], focused on a limited number of exemplar areas [16], and seldom adopts a holistic view that begins to provide a nuanced understanding of the modus operandi of the Arctic [17]. This is concerning because informed decision- and policy-making benefits from a broad understanding of system dynamics, including feedbacks and the likelihood of ecological surprises [18], yet the focus of study is already shifting from the natural sciences to social sciences and humanities to meet legislative and policy demands [19]. Now more than ever, foundational concepts and evidence are needed to support sustainable management and policy, preferably with a focus on continually acquiring, interpreting and applying new interdisciplinary knowledge to enhance understanding [20].

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Accepted/In Press date: 15 July 2020
e-pub ahead of print date: 31 August 2020
Published date: 2 October 2020
Additional Information: Funding Information: Data accessibility. This article does not contain any additional data. Authors’ contributions. All authors contributed equally to the manuscript. Competing interests. We declare we have no competing interests. Funding. This study was supported by ‘The Changing Arctic Ocean Seafloor (ChAOS)’—how changing sea ice conditions impact biological communities, biogeochemical processes and ecosystems’ project no. (NE/N015894/1 and NE/P006426/1, 2017–2021) funded by the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) in the UK. We also acknowledge support from the Research Council of Norway through ‘The Nansen Legacy project’ (RCN no. 276730). Acknowledgements. We are grateful to all authors who have contributed their work to this issue and to the Commissioning Editor, Alice Power, and her team at Philosophical Transactions A for their help and support.
Keywords: benthic-pelagic coupling, biogeochemical fluxes, ecosystem futures, environmental gradients, multiple stressors, seasonality

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 442817
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/442817
ISSN: 0080-4614
PURE UUID: 6fec4aaf-0869-4cdd-bcd7-007fe19f8ffd
ORCID for Martin Solan: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0001-9924-5574

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Date deposited: 28 Jul 2020 16:31
Last modified: 12 Oct 2022 04:01

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