While hydrocarbon exploration and extraction in the Arctic ebb and flow, reduced sea ice has opened new travel routes across the Arctic. The opening of the Northwest Passage has allowed larger ships (including oil tankers) and higher traffic into remote regions. More ice loss is expected in the future. With this comes the potential for hydrocarbon spills. To quantify the ecosystem impacts of a spill in the Alaska North Slope region, an Ecospace model using the Ecopath with Ecosim software was developed. We highlight the impacts of four potential hydrocarbon contamination scenarios: a subsurface crude oil pipeline release, a surface platform oil spill, a surface cruise ship diesel spill, and a surface tanker oil spill. Hydrocarbon contamination was modeled using SIMAP (Spill Impact Model Analysis Package), which was developed from the oil fate sub-model in the Natural Resource Damage Assessment Model for the US Department of the Interior and under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act of 1980 (CERCLA). Spatial-temporal SIMAP results were coupled to the Ecospace model. We show that in all four hydrocarbon contamination scenarios, there are spatial changes in harvested species resulting in long-term declines in harvest levels for the communities within the model area (Nuiqsut, Kaktovik, and Barrow Alaska), depending on the severity of the scenario. Responses to hydrocarbon events are likely to be slow in the Arctic, limited by the ice-free season. We highlight this area for scenario testing as ecological impacts are also an issue of food security to the local communities and human health issue.
A large retreat of sea-ice in the ‘stormy’ Atlantic Sector of the Arctic Ocean has become evident through a series of record minima for the winter maximum sea-ice extent since 2015. Results from the Norwegian young sea ICE (N-ICE2015) expedition, a five-month-long (Jan-Jun) drifting ice station in first and second year pack-ice north of Svalbard, showcase how sea-ice in this region is frequently affected by passing winter storms. Here we synthesise the interdisciplinary N-ICE2015 dataset, including independent observations of the atmosphere, snow, sea-ice, ocean, and ecosystem. We build upon recent results and illustrate the different mechanisms through which winter storms impact the coupled Arctic sea-ice system. These short-lived and episodic synoptic-scale events transport pulses of heat and moisture into the Arctic, which temporarily reduce radiative cooling and henceforth ice growth. Cumulative snowfall from each sequential storm deepens the snow pack and insulates the sea-ice, further inhibiting ice growth throughout the remaining winter season. Strong winds fracture the ice cover, enhance ocean-ice-atmosphere heat fluxes, and make the ice more susceptible to lateral melt. In conclusion, the legacy of Arctic winter storms for sea-ice and the ice-associated ecosystem in the Atlantic Sector lasts far beyond their short lifespan.
Climate change vulnerability research methods are often divergent, drawing from siloed biophysical risk approaches or social-contextual frameworks, lacking methods for integrative approaches. This substantial gap has been noted by scientists, policymakers and communities, inhibiting decision-makers’ capacity to implement adaptation policies responsive to both physical risks and social sensitivities. Aiming to contribute to the growing literature on integrated vulnerability approaches, we conceptualize and translate new integrative theoretical insights of vulnerability research to a scalable quantitative method. Piloted through a climate change vulnerability index for aviation and marine sectors in the Canadian Arctic, this study demonstrates an avenue of applying vulnerability concepts to assess both biophysical and social components analyzing future changes with linked RCP climate projections. The iterative process we outline is transferable and adaptable across the circumpolar north, as well as other global regions and shows that transportation vulnerability varies across Inuit regions depending on modeled hazards and transportation infrastructures.
The ocean capacity to store carbon is crucial, and currently absorbs about 25% CO2 supply to the atmosphere. The ability to store carbon has an economic value, but such estimates are not common for ocean environments, and not yet estimated for the Arctic Ocean. With the severe climatic changes in the Arctic Ocean, impacting sea ice and potentially the vertical carbon transport mechanisms, a projection of future changes in Arctic Ocean carbon storage is also of interest. In order to value present and evolving carbon storage in the changing Arctic marine environment we combine an ocean model with an economic analysis. Placing a value on these changes helps articulate the importance of the carbon storage service to society. The standing stock and fluxes of organic and inorganic carbon from the atmosphere, rivers, shelves and through the gateways linking to lower latitudes, and to the deep of the Arctic Ocean are investigated using the physically chemically biologically coupled SINMOD model. To obtain indications of the effect of climate change, trajectories of two IPCC climate scenarios RCP 4.5, and RCP 8.5 from the Max Planck Institute were used for the period 2006–2099. The results show an increase in the net carbon storage in the Arctic Ocean in this time period to be 1.0 and 2.3% in the RCP 4.5 and RCP 8.5 scenarios, respectively. Most of this increase is caused by an increased atmospheric CO2 uptake until 2070. The continued increase in inorganic carbon storage between 2070 and 2099 results from increased horizontal influx from lower latitude marine regions. First estimates of carbon storage values in the Arctic Ocean are calculated using the social cost of carbon (SCC) and carbon market values as two outer bounds from 2019 to 2099, based on the simulated scenarios. We find the Arctic Ocean will over the time period studied increase its storage of carbon to a value of between €27.6 billion and €1 trillion. This paper clearly neglects a multitude of different negative consequences of climate change in the Arctic, but points to the fact that there are also some positive counterbalancing effects.
The history of commercial exploitation of fish stocks is replete with instances of over-exploitation and stock collapse. Particularly in situations where little is known about a species or a particular fish stock, unregulated expansion into new fisheries may effectively wipe out a species or stock before its existence is even formally recognised or understood. Globally, there has been a strong interest in ensuring that such a fate does not befall any fish stocks that either exist in or may migrate in future into the high seas portion of the Central Arctic Ocean. The Agreement to Prevent Unregulated High Seas Fisheries in the Central Arctic Ocean establishes a framework for the acquisition of science upon which precautionary, ecosystem-based management measures can be based, if and when they become necessary in the future. This article examines the role of international law in facilitating both the adoption of the Agreement and the adaptive management of fisheries in the high seas portion of the Central Arctic Ocean. It will be shown that the Agreement provides the initial framework for precautionary, ecosystem-based, adaptive and environmentally sound decision making regarding potential future fisheries in the Central Arctic Ocean.
Satellite‐derived data suggest an increase in annual primary production following the loss of summer sea ice in the Arctic Ocean. The scarcity of field data to corroborate this enhanced algal production incited a collaborative project combining 6 annual cycles of sequential sediment trap measurements obtained over a 17‐year period in the Eurasian Arctic Ocean. Here, we present microalgal fluxes measured at ~200 m to reflect the bulk of algal carbon production. Ice algae contributed to a large proportion of the microalgal carbon export before complete ice melt and possible detection of their production by satellites. In the northern Laptev Sea, annual microalgal carbon fluxes were lower during the 2007 minimum ice extent than in 2006. In 2012, early snowmelt led to early microalgal carbon flux in the Nansen Basin. Hence, a change in the timing of snowmelt and ice algae release may affect productivity and export over the Arctic basins.
Climate warming has a significant impact on the sea ice and ecosystem of the Arctic Ocean. Under the increasing numbers of melt ponds in Arctic sea ice, the phytoplankton communities associated with the ice system are changing. During the 7th Chinese National Arctic Research Expedition cruise in summer 2016, photosynthesis pigments and nutrients were analyzed, revealing differences in phytoplankton communities between melt ponds and open water in the central Arctic. Photo synthetic pigment analysis suggested that Fuco (5-91 μg m-3 and Diadino (4-21 μg m-3) were the main pigments in the open water. However, the melt ponds had high concentrations of Viola (7-30 μg m-3), Lut (4-59 μg m-3) and Chl b (11-38 μg m-3), suggesting that green algae dominated phytoplankton communities in the melt ponds. The significant differences in phytoplankton communities between melt ponds and open water might be due to the salinity difference. Moreover, green algae may play a more important role in Arctic sea ice ecosystems with the expected growing number of melt ponds in the central Arctic Ocean.
Arctic sea ice has significant seasonal variability. Prior to the 2000s, it retreated about 15% in summer and fully recovered in winter. However, by the year 2007, Arctic sea ice extent experienced a catastrophic decline to about 4.28×106 km2, which was 50% lower than conditions in the 1950s to the 1970s (Serreze et al., 2008). That was a record low over the course of the modern satellite record, since 1979 (note that the year 2012 became the new record low). This astonishing event drew wide-ranging attention in 2007-2009 during the 4th International Polar Year. The dramatic decline of sea ice attracts many scientists' interest and has become the focus of intense research since then. Currently, sea ice retreat is not only appearing around the marginal ice zone, but also in the pack ice inside the central Arctic (Zhao et al., 2018). In fact, premonitory signs had already been seen through other evidence. Before the disintegration of the Soviet Union, US naval submarines had been conducting an extensive survey under the sea ice and taking measurements of sea ice thickness. Their measurements revealed a gradual decrease of ice thickness to 1.8 m during winter by the end of the 20th century, in contrast to the climatological mean of 3.1m (Rothrock et al., 1999). However, this alarming result did not draw much attention since the Arctic was still severely cold at that time.
The paper deals with the quantitative assessment of scientific publications regarding the Arctic indexed in SciVerse Scopus in the ten-year period (2007–2016 years). The research shows that the number of publications on the Arctic theme was consistently increasing over the previous years. The most frequently published topic concerns indigenous peoples, the most dynamic in its growth topic is renewable energy and the most active countries are The United States of America (USA), Canada, the United Kingdom, Norway, Germany. Basing on the results of this bibliometric study the original typology of the topics concerning the Arctic is created. The conducted bibliometric review shows the current situation of scientific research on this region and gives the data to predict its evolution in the next several years.
With Arctic summer sea ice potentially disappearing halfway through this century, the surface albedo and insulating effects of Arctic sea ice will decrease considerably. The ongoing Arctic sea ice retreat also affects the strength of the Planck, lapse-rate, cloud and surface albedo feedbacks together with changes in the heat exchange between the ocean and the atmosphere, but their combined effect on climate sensitivity has not been quantified. This study presents an estimate of all Arctic sea ice related climate feedbacks combined. We use a new method to keep Arctic sea ice at its present day (PD) distribution under a changing climate in a 50-year CO2 doubling simulation, using a fully coupled global climate model (EC-Earth V2.3). We nudge the Arctic Ocean to the (monthly-dependent) year 2000 mean temperature and minimum salinity fields on a mask representing PD sea ice cover. We are able to preserve about 95% of the PD mean March and 77% of the September PD Arctic sea ice extent by applying this method. Using simulations with and without nudging, we estimate the climate response associated with Arctic sea ice changes. The Arctic sea ice feedback globally equals 0.28 ± 0.15 Wm−2K−1. The total sea ice feedback thus amplifies the climate response for a doubling of CO2, in line with earlier findings. Our estimate of the Arctic sea ice feedback agrees reasonably well with earlier CMIP5 global climate feedback estimates and shows that the Arctic sea ice exerts a considerable effect on the Arctic and global climate sensitivity.