Arctic seas

Seabed in the Arctic Fram Strait (Photo: Alfred Wegener Institut)

... are affected profoundly and at large scales, albeit with distinct regional differences, by accelerating environmental change, such as ocean warming and acidification, as well as sea-ice decline. Moreover, increasing human activities, e.g., exploration/exploitation of natural and mineral resources, ship traffic, and tourism, add further pressures on them. Substantial effects are expected, leading to shifts in key ecosystem functions and services, e.g., biodiversity, trophic interactions, carbon and nutrient cycling, calcification.

To understand, predict and mitigate the profound ecological consequences of these environmental changes, there is a need to describe the ecological status quo in terms of structural and functional properties on both regional and pan-Arctic scales. Moreover, the assessment of shifts in ecosystem functioning and ecosystem services require the ability to identify and analyze the relationships between environmental drivers and ecosystem functions in both time and space.

Research Focus

To address this challenge, we develop, implement and utilize a pan-Arctic knowledge system on benthic biota (PANABIO), which integrates reliable, quality-controlled and geo-referenced data on marine communities with environmental information (observation and model data) at high spatial resolution and modeling tools.

With the option of coupling to models of species distribution patterns and organism energetics, as well as to dynamic climate and oceanographic models, PANABIO will allow for

(a) providing ecological baseline data to gauge ecosystem changes,

(b) analyzing coupling mechanisms between environmental drivers and ecosystem functions/services on regional and pan-Arctic scales,

(c) developing scenarios of ecosystem change in response to external forcing, and

(d) creating online stakeholder-oriented visualization and analysis tools.