WP6: The Arctic Ocean and the marine ecosystem under change
Work package leaders: Sabine Cochrane (Apn), Malin Daase (UiT), Stig Falk-Petersen (Apn)
Contributions from: Asgeir Sørensen (NTNU), Geir Johnsen (NTNU), Lionel Camus (Apn), Jørgen Berge (UiT), Slawomir Sagan (IOPAS), Jan Marcin Weslawski (IOPAS).
Life in all oceans begins with the availability of light and nutrients, which start the primary production. In the high Arctic, sunlight returns after the polar night in February–March and with the spring equinox in March the days are longer than further south. However, sea ice and snow cover prevent its penetration into the water until ice-breakup and melting, which can occur as late as August - September.
The main objective of WP6 is to study the "Blue Arctic" era into which we are rapidly entering, which will show a markedly different dynamic, where thinning and retreating ice-cover allows light to meet open water and trigger spring production months earlier than previously. The changes in light, nutrients, productivity and ice cover likely will be most pronounced at the shelf-break, continental margins and along the ice edge in the Arctic basin. Off-shelf winds promote upwelling of nutrient rich water and increased shelf basin exchange.