The Impact of Changes in Arctic Sea Ice on the Marine Planktonic Ecosystem - Synthesis and Modeling of Retrospective and Future
Basic Project Information
Significant changes in arctic climate have been detected in recent decades. One of the most striking is the decline of sea ice concurrent with changes in atmospheric circulation and increased surface air temperature. This arctic warming trend is likely to continue into the future, leading to a diminished arctic sea ice cover that will significantly impact the arctic marine ecosystem and ultimately arctic and subarctic human communities. It is therefore critical to understand how changes in sea ice influence the marine ecosystem. To this end, this work will investigate the historical and contemporary changes of arctic sea ice, water column, and aspects of the marine ecosystem as an integrated entity, and project future changes associated with a diminished arctic ice cover under several plausible warming scenarios. The focus will be on the marine planktonic ecosystem.
The scientific objectives are: 1) Synthesize the historical evolution of the arctic biology/ice/ocean system from 1979 to the present to understand the large-scale changes that have occurred in the sea ice, upper ocean, and marine planktonic ecosystem over this period. 2) Identify key linkages and interactions between the sea ice, the upper ocean, and the planktonic ecosystem to understand how changes in sea ice affect biogeochemical processes and food-web dynamics. 3) Project a diminished ice cover with several warming scenarios to explore the functioning of the planktonic ecosystem in an ice-diminished or summer ice-free Arctic Ocean.
This is a two-task research project: retrospective investigations and future projections. The first task aims at synthesis and interpretation of the large-scale changes that have occurred in arctic sea ice, upper ocean, and marine planktonic ecosystems over the past three decades. The second aims at qualitatively and quantitatively examining the impact of a diminished ice cover on the structure and functioning of the marine ecosystem. To achieve these, this group will construct a coupled pan-arctic Biology/Ice/Ocean Modeling and Assimilation System (BIOMAS) for synthesis and modeling of the integrated arctic system of ice cover, ocean, and marine planktonic ecosystem. BIOMAS will synthesize physical and biological observations through model parameterization/calibration and data assimilation. This unique system is a significant advance in integrated biology/ice/ocean modeling and assimilation that will provide the best possible estimates of the impact of changes in ice cover on the arctic marine planktonic ecosystem on decadal and pan-arctic scales, both retrospectively and predictively.
- Name: Michael Steele
- Department: Polar Science Center - Applied Physics Lab
- Organization: University of Washington
- Email: mas [at] apl [dot] washington [dot] edu