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.
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.
The study presents the first systematic review of the existing literature on Arctic ES. Applying the Search, Appraisal, Synthesis and Analysis (SALSA) and snowballing methods and three selection criteria, 33 publications were sourced, including peer-reviewed articles, policy papers and scientific reports, and their content synthesised using the thematic analysis method. Five key themes were identified: (1) general discussion of Arctic ES, (2) Arctic social-ecological systems, (3) ES valuation, (4) ES synergies and/or trade-offs, and (5) integrating the ES perspective into management. The meta-synthesis of the literature reveals that the ES concept is increasingly being applied in the Arctic context in all five themes, but there remain large knowledge gaps concerning mapping, assessment, economic valuation, analysis of synergies, trade-offs, and underlying mechanisms, and the social effects of ES changes. Even though ES are discussed in most publications as being relevant for policy, there are few practical examples of its direct application to management. The study concludes that more primary studies of Arctic ES are needed on all of the main themes as well as governance initiatives to move Arctic ES research from theory to practice.
Climate change is altering marine ecosystems worldwide and is most pronounced in the Arctic. Economic development is increasing leading to more disturbances and pressures on Arctic wildlife. Identifying areas that support higher levels of predator abundance and biodiversity is important for the implementation of targeted conservation measures across the Arctic.
Primarily Canadian Arctic marine waters but also parts of the United States, Greenland and Russia.
We compiled the largest data set of existing telemetry data for marine predators in the North American Arctic consisting of 1,283 individuals from 21 species. Data were arranged into four species groups: (a) cetaceans and pinnipeds, (b) polar bears Ursus maritimus (c) seabirds, and (d) fishes to address the following objectives: (a) to identify abundance hotspots for each species group in the summer–autumn and winter–spring; (b) to identify species diversity hotspots across all species groups and extent of overlap with exclusive economic zones; and (c) to perform a gap analysis that assesses amount of overlap between species diversity hotspots with existing protected areas.
Abundance and species diversity hotpots during summer–autumn and winter–spring were identified in Baffin Bay, Davis Strait, Hudson Bay, Hudson Strait, Amundsen Gulf, and the Beaufort, Chukchi and Bering seas both within and across species groups. Abundance and species diversity hotpots occurred within the continental slope in summer–autumn and offshore in areas of moving pack ice in winter–spring. Gap analysis revealed that the current level of conservation protection that overlaps species diversity hotspots is low covering only 5% (77,498 km2) in summer–autumn and 7% (83,202 km2) in winter–spring.
We identified several areas of potential importance for Arctic marine predators that could provide policymakers with a starting point for conservation measures given the multitude of threats facing the Arctic. These results are relevant to multilevel and multinational governance to protect this vulnerable ecosystem in our rapidly changing world.
This paper aims to discuss Chinese legislation in the exploration of marine mineral resources and its adoption in the Arctic Ocean. The journey commences by providing comments on the ‘Law of the People's Republic of China on the Exploration and Development of Resources in the Deep Seabed Area’ and to explore Chinese domestic legislation regulating Chinese enterprises' development activities in the Arctic area. Attention also pays to legislation regulating Chinese and foreign enterprises in the exploitation of mineral resources in China's continental shelf with special concern toward the protection of ecological environment. This paper concludes by suggesting that there is a need to further improve Chinese domestic legislation and draw on advanced legislative experience from various States and international law, in order to provide strong domestic legal protection for exploitation activities.
As the Arctic continues to warm, summer sea ice will continue to recede and a greater expanse of Arctic waters will become navigable. These changes may result in an increase in vessel traffic to the region, including via the Transpolar Sea Route (TSR), through the high seas area of the central Arctic Ocean (CAO). This paper begins with a review of the literature on Arctic vessel traffic to assess the potential effects of various stressors related to vessel traffic in the Arctic Ocean. Available data concerning environmental and safety risks for the Arctic Ocean are used to propose vessel TSR vessel traffic routes that can reduce those risks. The paper concludes with a brief discussion of several examples of vulnerability assessments focused on impacts from vessel traffic in the Arctic as potential models for future work specific to the CAO. The results from this review indicate vessel oiling, air pollution, and noise from icebreakers are immediate concerns to the Arctic Ocean that will likely worsen as the region becomes more navigable and vessel traffic increases. The proposed vessel routes for the Arctic Ocean are meant to serve as a starting point for further discussions before the region becomes fully navigable. As additional data become available, these efforts can be refined further, and a rigorous vulnerability assessment may become possible. Designation as a Particularly Sensitive Sea Area under international law could provide a useful mechanism for creating and updating precautionary shipping measures as more information becomes available.
Life cycle and reproduction of Calanus hyperboreus were studied during a year of record low ice cover in the southeastern Beaufort Sea. Stages CIV, adult females and CV dominated the overwintering population, suggesting a 2- to 3-year life cycle. Within two spring-summer months in the upper water column females filled their energy reserves before initiating their downward seasonal migration. From February to March, vigorous reproduction (20–65 eggs f−1 d−1) delivered numerous eggs (29 000 eggs m−2) at depth and nauplii N1-N3 (17 000 ind. m−2) in the water column. However, CI copepodite recruitment in May, coincident with the phytoplankton bloom, was modest in Amundsen Gulf compared to sites outside the gulf. Consequently, C. hyperboreus abundance and biomass stagnated throughout summer in Amundsen Gulf. As a mismatch between the first-feeding stages and food was unlikely under the favourable feeding conditions of April-May 2008, predation on the egg and larval stages in late winter presumably limited subsequent recruitment and population growth. Particularly abundant in Amundsen Gulf, the copepods Metridia longa and C. glacialis were likely important consumers of C. hyperboreus eggs and nauplii. With the ongoing climate-driven lengthening of the ice-free season, intensification of top-down control of C. hyperboreus recruitment by thriving populations of mesopelagic omnivores and carnivores like M. longa may counteract the potential benefits of increased primary production over the Arctic shelves margins for this key prey of pelagic fish, seabirds and the bowhead whale.
We explore current variability and future projections of winter Arctic sea ice thickness and growth using data from climate models and satellite observations. Winter ice thickness in the Community Earth System Model's Large Ensemble (CESM‐LE) compare well against thickness estimates from the Pan‐Arctic Ice Ocean Modeling and Assimilation System (PIOMAS) and CryoSat‐2, despite some significant regional differences ‐ e.g. a high thickness bias in CESM‐LE in the western Arctic. Differences across the available CryoSat‐2 thickness products hinder more robust validation efforts. We assess the importance of the negative conductive feedback of sea ice growth (thinner ice grows faster) by regressing October atmosphere/ice/ocean conditions against winter ice growth. Our regressions demonstrate the importance of a strong negative conductive feedback process in our current climate, that increases winter growth for thinner initial ice, but indicate that later in the 21st century this negative feedback is overwhelmed by variations in the fall atmosphere/ocean state.
Oil spill response (OSR) in the Arctic marine environment conducted as part of operational planning and preparedness supporting exploration and development is most successful when knowledge of the ecosystem is readily available and applicable in an oil spill risk assessment framework. OSR strategies supporting decision-making during the critical period after a spill event should be explicit about the environmental resources potentially at risk and the efficacy of OSR countermeasures that best protect sensitive and valued resources. At present, there are 6 prominent methods for spill impact mitigation assessment (SIMA) in the Arctic aimed at supporting OSR and operational planning and preparedness; each method examines spill scenarios and identifies response strategies best suited to overcome the unique challenges posed by polar ecosystems and to minimize potential long-term environmental consequences. The different methods are grounded in classical environmental risk assessment and the net environmental benefit analysis (NEBA) approach that emerged in the 1990s after the Exxon Valdez oil spill. The different approaches share 5 primary assessment elements (oil physical and chemical properties, fate and transport, exposure, effects and consequence analysis). This paper highlights how the different Arctic methods reflect this common risk assessment framework and share a common need for oil spill science relevant to Arctic ecosystems. An online literature navigation portal, developed as part of the 5-year Arctic Oil Spill Response Technologies Joint Industry Programme, complements the different approaches currently used in the Arctic by capturing the rapidly expanding body of scientific knowledge useful to evaluating exposure, vulnerability and recovery of the Arctic ecosystem after an oil spill.
Increasing Arctic marine use is driven primarily by natural resource development and greater marine access throughout the Arctic Ocean created by profound sea ice retreat. Significant management measures to enhance protection of Arctic people and the marine environment are emerging, including the development of marine protected areas (MPAs) which may be effective and valuable tools. MPAs have been established by individual Arctic coastal states within their respective national jurisdictions; however, a pan-Arctic network of MPAs has yet to be established despite Arctic Council deliberations. This overview focuses on those MPAs that can be designated by the International Maritime Organization and by international instrument or treaty to respond to increasing Arctic marine operations and shipping. Key challenges remain in the Arctic to the introduction of select MPAs and development of a circumpolar network of MPAs in response to greater marine use: the variability of sea ice; the rights and concerns of indigenous people; a lack of marine infrastructure; application to the Central Arctic Ocean; establishing effective monitoring; and, compliance and enforcement in remote polar seas. Robust bilateral and multilateral cooperation will be necessary not only to establish effective MPAs but also to sustain them for the long term. Reducing the large Arctic marine infrastructure gap will be a key requirement to achieve effective MPA management and attain critical conservation goals.