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​Climate effects to the Arctic Ocean

Paul Renaud of Akvaplan-niva is one of the editors of a newly published special issue in Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society A. The title of this special issue is ‘The changing Arctic Ocean: consequences for biological communities, biogeochemical processes and ecosystem functioning.’ This volume contains 17 articles that address the dynamics of biogeochemical processes and mechanisms behind ecosystem functioning in a changing Arctic. Link to journal: https://royalsocietypublishing.org/toc/rsta/378/2181.

Former postdoc at Akvaplan-niva Nathalie Morata is lead author on one of the articles, ‘Climate change and diminishing seasonality in Arctic benthic processes,’ which is a product of the ArcEx project (https://arcex.no/). ‘This article shows that climate induced change on ecological conditions in Kongsfjorden, Svalbard  may challenge the paradigm of intense seasonality in carbon and nutrient cycling by Arctic seafloor communities,’ says Paul Renaud, co-author on the paper. Link to article: https://royalsocietypublishing.org/doi/10.1098/rsta.2019.0369

Frank Beuchel and Carl Ballantine are co-authors on another article in the issue ‘Arctic coastal benthos long-term responses to perturbations under climate warming’. This study was led by former associated master student at Akvaplan-niva Amalia Keck Al-Habahbeh. This study of long-term change in hard-bottom communities on Svalbard showed a considerable increase in macroalgae cover in the late 90th and beginning of 20th century with a subsequent reorganisation and restructuring in the invertebrate communities. Through this the study highlights the vulnerability of Arctic coastal ecosystems to ongoing climate change. “This study highlights just how important continual long-term datasets are when looking at the context of climatic change. Without such datasets such perturbations may have been easily overlooked” says Carl Ballantine. This publication was also successful because of the expertise that Akvaplan-niva employees have developed in underwater imagery and automated analysis of pictures during recent years. This expertise has led to a number of new projects where these techniques are applied. Link to article: https://royalsocietypublishing.org/doi/10.1098/rsta.2019.0355

Photo: Change in epibenthic hardbottom communities, before (left) and after (right) macroalgaetake-over in Smeerenburgfjorden, year 1988 and 2006 respectively (Photos: Bjørn Gulliksen).