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They came from the Pacific: how changing arctic currents could contribute to an ecological regime shift in the Atlantic Ocean

They came from the Pacific: how changing arctic currents could contribute to an ecological regime shift in the Atlantic Ocean
They came from the Pacific: how changing arctic currents could contribute to an ecological regime shift in the Atlantic Ocean
The Arctic Ocean is rapidly changing. With warming waters, receding sea ice, and changing circulation patterns, it has been hypothesized that previously closed ecological pathways between the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans will be opened as we move toward a seasonally ice‐free Arctic. The discovery of the Pacific diatom Neodenticula seminae in the Atlantic suggests that a tipping point may have already been reached and this “opening up” of the Arctic could already be underway. Here, we investigate how circulation connectivity between the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans has changed in recent decades, using a state‐of‐the‐art high‐resolution ocean model and a Lagrangian particle‐tracking method. We identify four main trans‐Arctic pathways and a fifth route that is sporadically available with a shorter connectivity timescale. We discuss potential explanations for the existence of this “shortcut” advective pathway, linking it to a shift in atmospheric and oceanic circulation regimes. Advective timescales associated with each route are quantified, and seasonal and interannual trends in the main four pathways are discussed, including an increase in Fram Strait outflow relative to the Canadian Archipelago. In conclusion, we note that while tipping points for ecological connectivity are species dependent, even the most direct routes require multiannual connectivity timescales. Plain Language Summary With a warming Arctic Ocean, it has been suggested that the ocean currents that connect the Pacific to the Atlantic may change. This could have potential biological consequences, including bringing Pacific species of plankton to the Atlantic. We investigate how the pathways bringing Pacific water to the Atlantic have changed, identify a pathway that takes less time that other routes to bring waters from Pacific to the Atlantic (but that is only occasionally available), and note that even the shortest timescales are over 2 years.
Ecological connectivity, Lagrangian modeling, NEMO, arctic circulation
2328-4277
1-20
Kelly, S. J.
cbbeb141-eedf-4f13-9566-efee83ba628c
Popova, E.
3ea572bd-f37d-4777-894b-b0d86f735820
Aksenov, Y.
1d277047-06f6-4893-8bcf-c2817a9c848e
Marsh, R.
b22ef653-0671-46d5-bf81-21c0d6657974
Yool, A.
882aeb0d-dda0-405e-844c-65b68cce5017
Kelly, S. J.
cbbeb141-eedf-4f13-9566-efee83ba628c
Popova, E.
3ea572bd-f37d-4777-894b-b0d86f735820
Aksenov, Y.
1d277047-06f6-4893-8bcf-c2817a9c848e
Marsh, R.
b22ef653-0671-46d5-bf81-21c0d6657974
Yool, A.
882aeb0d-dda0-405e-844c-65b68cce5017

Kelly, S. J., Popova, E., Aksenov, Y., Marsh, R. and Yool, A. (2020) They came from the Pacific: how changing arctic currents could contribute to an ecological regime shift in the Atlantic Ocean. Earth's Future, 8 (4), 1-20, [e2019EF001394]. (doi:10.1029/2019EF001394).

Record type: Article

Abstract

The Arctic Ocean is rapidly changing. With warming waters, receding sea ice, and changing circulation patterns, it has been hypothesized that previously closed ecological pathways between the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans will be opened as we move toward a seasonally ice‐free Arctic. The discovery of the Pacific diatom Neodenticula seminae in the Atlantic suggests that a tipping point may have already been reached and this “opening up” of the Arctic could already be underway. Here, we investigate how circulation connectivity between the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans has changed in recent decades, using a state‐of‐the‐art high‐resolution ocean model and a Lagrangian particle‐tracking method. We identify four main trans‐Arctic pathways and a fifth route that is sporadically available with a shorter connectivity timescale. We discuss potential explanations for the existence of this “shortcut” advective pathway, linking it to a shift in atmospheric and oceanic circulation regimes. Advective timescales associated with each route are quantified, and seasonal and interannual trends in the main four pathways are discussed, including an increase in Fram Strait outflow relative to the Canadian Archipelago. In conclusion, we note that while tipping points for ecological connectivity are species dependent, even the most direct routes require multiannual connectivity timescales. Plain Language Summary With a warming Arctic Ocean, it has been suggested that the ocean currents that connect the Pacific to the Atlantic may change. This could have potential biological consequences, including bringing Pacific species of plankton to the Atlantic. We investigate how the pathways bringing Pacific water to the Atlantic have changed, identify a pathway that takes less time that other routes to bring waters from Pacific to the Atlantic (but that is only occasionally available), and note that even the shortest timescales are over 2 years.

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2019EF001394 - Version of Record
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More information

Accepted/In Press date: 28 January 2020
e-pub ahead of print date: 5 February 2020
Published date: 1 April 2020
Keywords: Ecological connectivity, Lagrangian modeling, NEMO, arctic circulation

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 444248
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/444248
ISSN: 2328-4277
PURE UUID: ba03b629-96e9-4492-a8f7-2cfd0ad445a5

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Date deposited: 06 Oct 2020 17:12
Last modified: 25 Nov 2021 17:41

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Contributors

Author: S. J. Kelly
Author: E. Popova
Author: Y. Aksenov
Author: R. Marsh
Author: A. Yool

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