Rapid Climate Change on Arctic Marine Ecosystems Workshop

Rapid Climate Change on Arctic Marine Ecosystems Workshop

Scientists from Canada, Norway and the United Kingdom met last month in Aberdeen to discuss climate change and resource exploitation of Arctic benthic ecosystems. The seminar was open to the public.

This 3-day workshop held at Oceanlab with international and UK scientists was held from 31 August to 02 September 2016. Organised by Professor Ursula Witte and Dr Solveig Bourgeois, from Oceanlab.

The first day of this workshop was on Climate Change, Resource exploitation and the diversity and functioning of Arctic benthic ecosystems dedicated to a series of seminars on  Arctic Biodiversity and Ecosystem functioning and Anthropogenic impacts and Ocean observation.

The second and third day were devoted to working groups to synthesize results, gaps and future research needs for an assessment of the Arctic benthic ecosystem functioning in the context of climate change.

  • Climate change is clearly and fundamentally altering marine ecosystems and the most striking impacts can be seen in the Arctic Ocean; 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 of sea-ice-free summers before mid-century.
  • In terms of ecosystem functioning, these rapid changes would affect the patterns of primary production, i.e. the resource availability for pelagic and benthic communities, and in consequence rates and pathways of organic matter processing.
  • Benthic ecosystems at the ocean floor, that depend on food sinking down from the water column, could be strongly affected by these changes.
  • Moreover, the ice retreat will open new navigation routes (e.g. Northwest Passage) and increase the opportunities to access to natural resources (e.g. extraction of oil and natural gas), which will exacerbate human pressures on this sensitive environment.

Seminar Programme 31 August 2016 (open to the public)

09:25-09:30 Welcome

09:30-10:30 Marine biodiversity and its influence on the functioning of benthic Arctic ecosystems. Professor Philippe Archambault, Québec-Ocean, University of Québec, Canada 

10:30-11:15 Benthic food web structure across the Canadian Arctic Ocean and Chukchi Sea Insights from stable isotopes and the IP25 biomarker. Professor Christian Nozais, University of Québec at Rimouski (UQAR), Canada

Coffee Break (15 minutes)

11:30-12:15 Arctic seafloor community responses to ice algae and phytoplankton – Can climate change benefit the deep sea ecosystem? Anni Makela, Oceanlab, University of Aberdeen, UK

12:15-13:00 Structure and functioning of cold-water coral reefs: a sponge's view. Dr Georgios Kazanidis, Oceanlab, University of Aberdeen, UK

Lunch Break (1 hour)

14:00-14:45 The natural capacity for oils spill remediation of subarctic deep-sea sediments. Dr Evina Gontikaki, Oceanlab, University of Aberdeen, UK

14:45-15:30 Impact of changes in ice cover on pelagic benthic coupling and ecosystem functioning on arctic shelves.  Dr Nathalie Morata, Akvaplan-niva, Fram Centre for Climate and the Environment, Norway; LEMAR, University of Western Brittany, France

Coffee Break (15 minutes)

15:45-16:30 Organic matter remineralization in marine sediments: a Pan-Arctic comparison. Dr Solveig Bourgeois, Oceanlab, University of Aberdeen, UK

Contact: Professor Ursula Witte, u.witte@abdn.ac.uk  01224274402

Dr Solveig Bourgeois, s.bourgeois@abdn.ac.uk 01224274525

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