Arctic in Rapid Transition
The International Arctic Research Center and the University of Alaska Fairbanks Department of Geology and Geophysics jointly invite applications for a tenure-track geoscientist position at the level of Assistant or Associate Professor in the field of Arctic system science, with a focus on sea ice. The position will carry responsibilities in research, teaching, and public service. See full job description.
ART will host a session at the 2014 Ocean Sciences Meeting in Honolulu, Hawaii
Abstract deadline: October 4 The Arctic is one of the regions where the effect of climate change is most pronounced and currently significant transformations occur. The most striking physical changes are associated with diminishing sea ice extent and thickness, melting permafrost, enhanced rates of coastal erosion and increasing freshwater discharge into the Arctic Ocean. Understanding the response of Arctic marine ecosystems to these changes and how they might alter biogeochemical processes and the biological carbon pump, requires the integration of physical, biological and chemical oceanographic studies across a range of temporal and spatial scales. Integrating modeling and observations will identify linkages and feedbacks between atmosphere-ice-ocean forcing and biological-geochemical processes and will subsequently improve the prediction of future scenarios.
Here, we seek interdisciplinary data and synthesis products that elucidate the current status of the physical and biogeochemical processes in the Arctic marine system on regional and global scales, how feedbacks and controls could change these systems and ultimately, what new conditions might be present in the Arctic on decadal and longer time scales.
Arctic sea ice extent and thickness are declining rapidly, simplifying access to oil and gas resources, enabling Transarctic shipping, and shifting the distribution of harvestable resources. These projected socio‐economical opportunities have brought the Arctic Ocean to the top of national and international political agendas. Alarmingly, current sea‐ice loss appears to be unmatched over at least the last few thousand years (Polyak et al. 2010) and is taking place more rapidly than projected by any of the 18 global climate models used by the IPCC (IPCC, 2007). The persistent mismatch between observed and projected patterns makes planning and mitigation activities in the Arctic region complicated. Therefore, scientific knowledge of the present and past status of the Arctic Ocean and the processbased understanding of the mechanics of change are urgently needed to make useful projections of future conditions throughout the Arctic region.
The Arctic in Rapid Transition (ART) Initiative is an integrative, international, interdisciplinary, Panarctic network to study the spatial and temporal changes in sea ice cover, ocean circulation and associated physical drivers over multiple timescales to better understand and forecast the impact of these changes on the ecosystems and biogeochemistry of the Arctic Ocean. The ART Initiative was initiated by early career scientists in October 2008 and subsequently endorsed by the Marine Working Group of the International Arctic Science Committee (IASC), formerly the Arctic Ocean Sciences Board. ART will be implemented via a three‐phase approach:
- Phase I: The development of an active international and multidisciplinary network of scientists sharing a common interest in improving our understanding of the implications of sea ice transitions in the Arctic Ocean.
- Phase II: The coordination of dedicated, multicountry, interdisciplinary field campaigns and data collection activities that would provide input into an integrated modelling effort.
- Phase III: The synthesis of knowledge including the development of robust scenarios regarding the future state of Arctic marine ecosystems and their role in global processes.
Mentoring and educational programs will be integral to all three phases to help maintain the organic identity of ART as a network led by early‐career scientists. The implementation of ART will rely on the successful integration and collaboration with many scientific programs that are already active or in development. The legacy of ART will be a robust set of predictive tools that will enhance the integration of Arctic marine sciences into global assessments of climate change and help manage increased human activity in the Arctic.
What is ART and what makes ART unique?
The ART Executive Committee originates from a network of early‐career Arctic marine scientists who have been involved in multidisciplinary national and international research programs during the last decade. The unique characteristics of the ART Initiative (Figure 1) are arrayed along four axes:
- International: ART is an international effort both in terms of geographic scope (Panarctic) and of the nationalities of the founding and participating scientists.
- Interdisciplinary: ART fosters communication and data exchange among disciplines and will improve our understanding of the response of the Arctic marine realm as a whole (i.e. ecosystems and biogeochemistry) to changes in climate and Arctic sea ice.
- Temporal Linkages: ART has an important focus of bridging temporal aspects, including paleorecords, current observational studies and modelling efforts.
- Early Career Involvement: ART was conceived, developed and remains steered by early‐career scientists, with ongoing intellectual support from dedicated senior scientists who serve an advisory role. The program aims to continue and support the active involvement of early-career scientists in ongoing Arctic research.
Figure 1. Schematics illustrating the characteristics of ART. An initiative undertaken by current early-career scientists leads to the development of an international network that aims to bridge disciplines and time scales in order to better understand the response of Arctic marine ecosystems to climate change and sea ice transitions. ART also reinforces the mentoring of emerging earlycareer scientists in multidisciplinary aspects of Arctic marine system sciences.
Background and Rationale
ART is an initiative developed by early‐career scientists as a continuation of the International Conference on Arctic Research Planning II (ICARP II) Marine Roundtable, an initiative of the Arctic Ocean Sciences Board (AOSB), now the Marine Working Group of the International Arctic Science Committee (IASC). The ART Science Plan (Wegner et al., 2010) developed after the ART Initiation Workshop held in November 2009 in Fairbanks, Alaska, USA (Frey et al., 2010) was endorsed by the AOSB during the Arctic Science Summit Week in Nuuk, Greenland in April 2010. In October 2010, the ART Implementation Workshop was held in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada (Wegner et al., 2011) in order to develop the implementation plan to accompany the ART Science Plan. The two ART workshops were supported by AOSB/IASC, the International Arctic Research Center at the University of Fairbanks, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada, the US National Science Foundation, the Research Council of Norway, IFM‐GEOMAR in Germany, and the Association of Polar Early Career Scientists (APECS).
ART originated from the impetus to merge the three marine ICARP II working group reports; Deep Central Basin of the Arctic Ocean (WG4), Arctic Margins and Gateways (WG5) and Arctic Shelf Seas (WG6) to provide for a Panarctic interdisciplinary approach to studying Arctic marine change. Given that the ICARP II meeting occurred in 2005, ART aims at updating and refreshing the scientific issues raised within the ICARP II reports to a post International Polar Year 2007–2009 perspective. A cross‐cutting and inter‐disciplinary initiative (such as ART) is essential to meet the need for increased interdisciplinary knowledge related to ongoing climate change and increased human activity in the Arctic marine regions. There is a need for an understanding of the spatial and temporal dynamics of the Arctic marine system as a whole, including transitions in sea ice, terrestrial input and gateway processes, and the impacts on marine ecosystems, their productivity and the consequences for biogeochemistry. An identification and understanding of projected and ongoing changes requires a Panarctic perspective and the inclusion of geological records.
Objectives of ART
The central objective of ART is to develop and structure an active international scientific network focused on bridging time scales, marine science disciplines, and geographic regions in order to better understand the past, present and future response of Arctic marine ecosystems to sea ice transitions. Within this objective, the ART network aims at improving our predictive capability with respect to consequences for biological productivity, ecological functions and biogeochemical cycling in the Arctic. A primary goal of ART is to support the development of paleoproxies from periods of reduced ice cover and/or ice-free intervals in the geologic past (Polyak et al., 2010) in order to provide analogues of the current sea-ice transition. ART also endeavours to increase and integrate our knowledge of modern Arctic marine ecosystems in order to augment their representation within global impact assessments of climate change and human activity. Despite the steep rate and alarming nature of change taking place in the Arctic, impacts on Arctic marine biological systems are often overlooked (Wassmann et al., 2011) owing that the changes have been primarily reflected and detected in the physical and geochemical domains (Carmack and McLaughlin, 2011). However, environmental changes have a fundamental impact on carbon/nutrient cycling and ecosystem function, which has to be addressed in order to, understand feedbacks between the physical and biological components of the Arctic Ocean.
Toward these goals, ART proposes three overarching science questions that serve to unify marine science disciplines rather than questions along traditional disciplinary partitions. The role of the key questions is to frame ART within an integrated science concept (Figure 2). This framework emphasizes the central role of sea ice transitions and the importance of linkages and feedbacks between atmospheric, climatic and oceanic forcings, and the biological, chemical, and geochemical processes that are fundamental to regional ecosystem function and to the productive capacity of the Arctic Ocean. The scientific rationale underlying the three overarching questions, as well as further sub-questions, is detailed within the ART Science Plan (Wegner et al., 2010).
- How were past transitions in sea ice connected to energy flows, elemental cycling, biological diversity and productivity, and how do these compare to present and projected shifts?
- How do temporal and spatial variability in sea ice transitions affect biogeochemical fluxes in coastal, ocean-gateway and shelf-to-basin environments?
- How does the Arctic marine biota respond to sea ice transitions, and what are the implications for productivity, ice-pelagic-benthic coupling, trophic transfer and air-ice-sea exchange?
Figure 2. Conceptual diagram summarizing the ART Science Questions. The influence of sea ice transitions on Arctic marine ecosystems is central, and emphasizes the need for a multidisciplinary and Panarctic approach.
ART will investigate changes and feedbacks among the physical drivers, ecosystem functions and biogeochemical processes related to sea ice transitions in the Arctic Ocean. The primary focus of ART is to develop an international and multi‐disciplinary scientific network with the aim to decipher the biogeochemical and ecological implications of changing ice conditions over a Panarctic domain and a broad temporal scale. This includes:
A spatial domain focused on comparative knowledge where:
- current sea ice conditions are changing (e.g. Figure 3) and ecosystem dynamics as well as biogeochemical processes can be effectively evaluated as part of national science efforts that reflect individual national interests;
- a baseline for past, present, and future changes can be defined;
- paleorecords can identify geological changes in sea ice conditions and provide relevant proxies for interpreting past biological responses;
- commercial activities and political interest are focused, such as Arctic continental shelves where marine shipping and resource harvesting are expected to increase;
- gradients in bathymetry and/or environmental conditions are steep, such as across land‐shelf‐basin transects or from areas of first‐year fast ice to multiyear pack ice.
- Temporal scales aiming at resolving how:
- changes in the pre‐conditioning, onset and duration of the productive period affect the nature and magnitude of biological productivity, impact biogeochemical fluxes and feedbacks to the climate system;
- seasonal and inter‐annual shifts in freshwater loads, river run‐off patterns, air‐sea exchange and Atlantic and Pacific water inputs influence the structure and function of marine food webs as well as the conditions for biogeochemical transformation;
- time windows critical for the growth and reproduction of organisms are altered by sea ice transitions and the consequence for match‐mismatch scenarios;
- current transitions in sea ice and ecosystem processes compare to the timing, strength and dynamics of environmental and biological changes in geological times.
Figure 3. Examples of sea ice transition zones as illustrated by: (a) trend in sea ice cover persistence and edges of annual minimum ice extent as measured in September from 19792000 (median), in 2007 and in 2010 (figure by K. Frey); (b) change in ice age from March to September 2010 (i.e. annual maximum and minimum in sea ice extent) and throughout the 19812010 period for the month of September. Images courtesy of the National Snow and Ice Data Center (http://nsidc.org/).