University hosts workshop on impact of climate change on Arctic marine ecosystems

Academics from across the world will gather at the University of Aberdeen's Oceanlab research station for a workshop focusing on the impact of climate change on Arctic marine ecosystems.

The workshop, which takes place from Wednesday to Friday (August 31 to September 2), will bring together scientists from Canada, Norway, France and the UK to discuss and share ideas that will help inform future research in this important area. 

The three-day event will include an opening day seminar which is free and open to anyone who wishes to attend.

Professor Ursula Witte from the University of Aberdeen has organised the workshop with Dr Solveig Bourgeois.  They are both based at the University’s Oceanlab marine research facility in Newburgh.

Dr Bourgeois said: “Climate change is clearly and fundamentally altering marine ecosystems and the most striking impacts can be seen in the Arctic Ocean where air and water temperatures have risen two times faster than for the rest of the world.

“The most noticeable sign of disruption is the drastic loss of sea ice and many experts fear the Arctic might experience sea-ice-free summers before mid-century.

“In terms of ecosystem functioning, these rapid changes would affect the patterns of primary production, for example the resources available for marine habitats, which affects the rates and pathways of organic matter processing.

“Habitats at the ocean floor that depend on food sinking down from the water column could be strongly affected by these changes.  Not only this, but the ice retreat will open new navigation routes and increase opportunities for oil and gas extraction, exacerbating human pressures on this sensitive environment.

“This three-day workshop will bring together academics working in this area to talk about their research and share ideas on how best to mitigate the impact of climate change on Arctic marine ecosystems.”