Impactful communication remains a vexing problem for climate science researchers and public outreach. This article identifies a range of moving images and screen-based media used to visualize climate change, focusing especially on the Arctic region and the efforts of the United Nations. The authors examine the aesthetics of big data visualization of melting sea ice and glaciers made by NASA and similar entities; eye-witness, expert accounts and youth-produced documentaries designed for United Nations delegates to the annual COP events such as the Youth Climate Report; Please Help the World, the dystopian cli-fi narrative produced for the UN’s COP 15; and Isuma TV’s streaming of works by Indigenous practitioners in Nunavut.
Studying the distribution of zooplankton in relation to their prey and predators is challenging, especially in situ. Recent developments in underwater imaging enable such fine-scale research. We deployed the Lightframe On-sight Keyspecies Investigation (LOKI) image profiler to study the fine-scale (1 m) vertical distribution of the copepods Calanus hyperboreus and C. glacialis in relation to the subsurface chlorophyll maximum (SCM) at the end of the grazing season in August in the North Water and Nares Strait (Canadian Arctic). The vertical distribution of both species was generally consistent with the predictions of the Predator Avoidance Hypothesis. In the absence of a significant SCM, both copepods remained at depth during the night. In the presence of a significant SCM, copepods remained at depth in daytime and a fraction of the population migrated in the SCM at night. All three profiles where the numerically dominant copepodite stages C4 and C5 of the two species grazed in the SCM at night presented the same intriguing pattern: the abundance of C. hyperboreus peaked in the core of the SCM while that of C. glacialis peaked just above and below the core SCM. These distributions of the same-stage congeners in the SCMs were significantly different. Lipid fullness of copepod individuals was significantly higher in C. hyperboreus in the core SCM than in C. glacialis above and below the core SCM. Foraging interference resulting in the exclusion from the core SCM of the smaller C. glacialis by the larger C. hyperboreus could explain this vertical partitioning of the actively grazing copepodite stages of the two species. Alternatively, specific preferences for microalgal and/or microzooplankton food hypothetically occupying different layers in the SCM could explain the observed partitioning. Investigating the observed fine-scale co-distributions further will enable researchers to better predict potential climate change effects on these important Arctic congeners.
How real-world marine food webs absorb change, recover and adapt (that is, ecological resilience) to climate change remains problematic. Here we apply a novel approach to show how the complex changes in resilience of food webs can be understood with a small core set of self-organizing configurations that represent different simultaneously nested and multiple-species interactions. We identified a recent emergent pattern of an improving but possibly short-lived resilience of a highly observed Arctic marine food web (2004–2016), considered a harbinger of future Arctic change. The changes can be explained by continuing subsidiary inputs of Atlantic species that repair (self-organize) interactions within some configurations. Despite significant environmental perturbation, we found that the core ecological processes are maintained. We conclude that Arctic marine food webs can absorb and begin to adapt to ongoing climate change.
The Arctic stratospheric polar vortex usually forms in autumn, reaches its peak intensity in mid-winter and decays in spring. The polar vortex strength and persistence in the winter–spring period play an important role in stratospheric ozone depletion with the return of solar radiation in late winter. The polar vortex breakdown in most cases occurs under the influence of vertically propagating planetary Rossby waves. The increased activity of planetary waves was observed in 1984/1985, 1998/1999 and 2012/2013 and led to the polar vortex breakdown in mid-winter, after which it was not observed for more than a month. In this study, Arctic sea ice loss is considered as the most likely cause of the increased activity of planetary waves resulting in the unusual weakening of the Arctic polar vortex. Arctic sea ice extent was a record low in autumn 1984, 1998 and 2012 in the Beaufort Sea, the Canadian Arctic Archipelago and the Central Arctic.
Coastal fishery systems in the Arctic are undergoing rapid change. This paper examines the ways in which Inuit fishers experience and respond to such change, using a case study from Pangnirtung, Canada. The work is based on over two years of fieldwork, during which semi-structured interviews (n = 62), focus group discussions (n = 6, 31 participants) and key informant interviews (n = 25) were conducted. The changes that most Inuit fishers experience are: changes in sea-ice conditions, Inuit people themselves, the landscape and the seascape, fish-related changes, and changes in weather conditions, markets and fish selling prices. Inuit fishers respond to change individually as well as collectively. Fishers’ responses were examined using the characteristics of a resilience-based conceptual framework focusing on place, human agency, collective action and collaboration, institutions, indigenous and local knowledge systems, and learning. Based on results, this paper identified three community-level adaptive strategies, which are diversification, technology use and fisheries governance that employs a co-management approach. Further, this work recognised four place-specific attributes that can shape community adaptations, which are Inuit worldviews, Inuit-owned institutions, a culture of sharing and collaborating, and indigenous and local knowledge systems. An examination of the ways in which Inuit fishers experience and respond to change is essential to better understand adaptations to climate change. This study delivers new insights to communities, scientists, and policymakers to work together to foster community adaptation.
Our goal is to study the role of demographic change in the development and spread of maritime adaptations in the North American Arctic over the last 6000 years. We compile and analyze a regional radiocarbon database (n = 935) for northern Alaska, using Oxcal to analyze demographic patterns in summed probability distributions. We find that northern Alaskan populations grew significantly over the last 4500 years, although growth was punctuated by three periods of decline from approximately 3700 to 3125 cal BP, 1000 cal BP, and 600 cal BP. We assess possible alternative explanations for the observed demographic patterns (e.g. calibration and taphonomic effects, investigator bias). Region-wide erosion and calibration effects likely contribute to the dearth of radiocarbon dates around 1000 cal BP, and sampling bias may contribute to the post-600 cal BP decline. However, we conclude that the overall pattern reflects regional population growth, decline, and recovery. Population growth predates intensification of marine resource procurement by at least 1200 years; we hypothesize that population growth was a possible driver for late Holocene marine intensification in the Arctic. These findings have further implications for understanding the process of intensification and the development of complexity in coastal hunter-gatherer societies.
Nares Strait is the northern most outflow gateway of the Arctic Ocean, with a direct connection to the remaining multi-year ice covered central Arctic Ocean. Nares Strait itself flows into the historically highly productive North Water Polynya (Pikialasorsuaq). Satellite data show that Nares Strait ice is retreating earlier in the season. The early season surface chlorophyll signal, which was a characteristic of the North Water, has also moved north into Nares Strait. However, given the vast differences in the hydrography and physical oceanographic structure of the North Water and Nares Strait there is no a priori reason to assume that the species assemblages and overall productivity of this region between Greenland and Canada will be maintained in the face of ongoing sea ice decline. The North Water’s high marine mammal and bird populations are dependent on seasonally persistent diatom dominated phytoplankton productivity, and although there have been several studies on North Water phytoplankton, virtually nothing is known about the communities in Nares Strait. Here we investigated the microbial eukaryotes, including phytoplankton in Nares Strait using high-throughput amplicon sequencing. Samples were collected from Kennedy Channel below the northern ice edge of Nares Strait through the Kane Basin and into the northern limit of the North Water. The physical oceanographic structure and initial community rapidly changed between the faster flowing Kennedy Channel and the comparatively wider shallower Kane Basin. The community changes were evident in both the upper euphotic zone and the deeper aphotic zone. Heterotrophic taxa were found in the deeper waters along with ice algae that would have originated further to the north following release from the ice. Although there was a high proportion of pan-Arctic species throughout, the Nares Strait system showed little in common with the Northern North Water station, suggesting a lack of connectivity. We surmise that a direct displacement of the rich North Water ecosystem is not likely to occur. Overall our study supported the notion that the microbial eukaryotic community, which supports ecosystem function and secondary productivity is shaped by a balance of historic and current processes, which differed by seascape.
The Arctic is a complex geographical area to govern sustainably due to strong geopolitical and socio-economic interests, high ecological vulnerability and importance, and significant legal and institutional fragmentation. Intensifying human pressures in this area necessitate an ecosystem-based and adaptive governance approach, an approach that enables managing socio-ecological resilience in the Arctic. As the Arctic is a large geographic area crossing multiple national jurisdictions and maritime zones, including high seas areas, regionally coordinated and coherent governance approaches would be desirable. This paper assesses the status quo for ecosystem-based governance (EBG) in the Arctic, suggests a focus on three core components of EBG, and proposes three forms of legal coherence to foster these core components. The paper concludes with examining what role the Arctic Council plays and could play to strengthen EBG in the Arctic.
Since the last Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Programme (AMAP) effort to review biological effects of the exposure to organohalogen compounds (OHCs) in Arctic biota, there has been a considerable number of new Arctic effect studies. Here, we provide an update on the state of the knowledge of OHC, and also include mercury, exposure and/or associated effects in key Arctic marine and terrestrial mammal and bird species as well as in fish by reviewing the literature published since the last AMAP assessment in 2010. We aimed at updating the knowledge of how single but also combined health effects are or can be associated to the exposure to single compounds or mixtures of OHCs. We also focussed on assessing both potential individual as well as population health impacts using population-specific exposure data post 2000. We have identified quantifiable effects on vitamin metabolism, immune functioning, thyroid and steroid hormone balances, oxidative stress, tissue pathology, and reproduction. As with the previous assessment, a wealth of documentation is available for biological effects in marine mammals and seabirds, and sentinel species such as the sledge dog and Arctic fox, but information for terrestrial vertebrates and fish remain scarce. While hormones and vitamins are thoroughly studied, oxidative stress, immunotoxic and reproductive effects need further investigation. Depending on the species and population, some OHCs and mercury tissue contaminant burdens post 2000 were observed to be high enough to exceed putative risk threshold levels that have been previously estimated for non-target species or populations outside the Arctic. In this assessment, we made use of risk quotient calculations to summarize the cumulative effects of different OHC classes and mercury for which critical body burdens can be estimated for wildlife across the Arctic. As our ultimate goal is to better predict or estimate the effects of OHCs and mercury in Arctic wildlife at the individual, population and ecosystem level, there remain numerous knowledge gaps on the biological effects of exposure in Arctic biota. These knowledge gaps include the establishment of concentration thresholds for individual compounds as well as for realistic cocktail mixtures that in fact indicate biologically relevant, and not statistically determined, health effects for specific species and subpopulations. Finally, we provide future perspectives on understanding Arctic wildlife health using new in vivo, in vitro, and in silico techniques, and provide case studies on multiple stressors to show that future assessments would benefit from significant efforts to integrate human health, wildlife ecology and retrospective and forecasting aspects into assessing the biological effects of OHC and mercury exposure in Arctic wildlife and fish.
Mesopelagic sound scattering layers (SSL) are ubiquitous in all oceans. Pelagic organisms within the SSL play important roles as prey for higher trophic levels and in climate regulation through the biological carbon pump. Yet, the biomass and species composition of SSL in the Arctic Ocean remain poorly documented, particularly in winter. A multifrequency echosounder detected a SSL north of Svalbard, from 79.8 to 81.4°N, in January 2016, August 2016, and January 2017. Midwater trawl sampling confirmed that the SSL comprised zooplankton and pelagic fish of boreal and Arctic origins. Arctic cod dominated the fish assemblage in August and juvenile beaked redfish in January. The macrozooplankton community mainly comprised the medusa Cyanea capillata, the amphipod Themisto libellula, and the euphausiids Meganyctiphanes norvegica in August and Thysanoessa inermis in January. The SSL was located in the Atlantic Water mass, between 200–700 m in August and between 50–500 m in January. In January, the SSL was shallower and weaker above the deeper basin, where less Atlantic Water penetrated. The energy content available in the form of lipids within the SSL was significantly higher in summer than winter. The biomass within the SSL was >12-fold higher in summer, and the diversity of fish was slightly higher than in winter (12 vs. 9 species). We suggest that these differences are mainly related to life history and ontogenetic changes resulting in a descent toward the seafloor, outside the mesopelagic layer, in winter. In addition, some fish species of boreal origin, such as the spotted barracudina, did not seem to survive the polar night when advected from the Atlantic into the Arctic. Others, mainly juvenile beaked redfish, were abundant in both summer and winter, implying that the species can survive the polar night and possibly extend its range into the high Arctic. Fatty-acid trophic markers revealed that Arctic cod mainly fed on calanoid copepods while juvenile beaked redfish targeted krill (Thysanoessa spp.). The relatively high biomass of Arctic cod in August and of redfish in January thus suggests a shift within the SSL, from a Calanus-based food web in summer to a krill-based food web during winter.