Simulated ballast water accumulation along Arctic shipping routes
The recent decline of the Arctic sea ice cover leads to an increasing number of vessels navigating through the Arctic shipping routes. Ballast water, essential for the vessel's safety during voyages and cargo transfers, however, is also considered one of the main vectors for transport and introduction of non-indigenous species. The aim of this paper is to investigate potential effects of the ballast water discharged in the main Arctic shipping routes on the local environment. For that a passive tracer was implemented in a fine resolution coupled ocean-sea ice model covering the entire Arctic and northern North Atlantic, to simulate the spread of the ballast water discharged based on release points along real ship positions from 2013. The model results showed that spring and summer were the seasons with the highest tendency for accumulation of ballast water tracer on the surface layers south of NovayaZemlyaand south of Spitsbergen, not only due to a higher number of vessels navigating in the area but also due to strong stratification. During winter and autumn, the tracer was mixed with and into deeper layers due to vertical convection. The simulated ballast water accumulation during spring and summer indicated that organisms, that survived the voyage in the ballast tanks, could establish a stable or growing population and eventually become invasive.
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