Changing Arctic Carbon cycle in the cOastal Ocean Near-shore - CACOON

No other region has warmed as much or as rapidly in the past decades as the Arctic. A new project, CACOON, investigates how the ecosystems are influenced by this warming. Funded by the British Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) and the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), CACOON will also help to better predict changes to the Arctic coastal-marine environment.

CACOON Background

Arctic rivers annually carry around 13% of all dissolved organic carbon transported globally from land to ocean, despite the Arctic Ocean making up only approximately 1% of the Earth’s ocean volume. Arctic shelf waters are therefore dominated by terrestrial carbon pools, so that shelf ecosystems are intimately linked to freshwater supplies. Arctic ecosystems also contain perennially frozen carbon that may be released by further warming. Climate change already thaws permafrost, reduces sea-ice and increases riverine discharge over much of the pan-Arctic, triggering important feedbacks. The importance of the near-shore region, consisting of several tightly connected ecosystems that include rivers, deltas, estuaries and the continental shelf, is however often overlooked. We need year-round studies to be able to predict the impact of shifting seasonality, fresher water, changing nutrient supply and greater proportions of permafrost-derived carbon on coastal waters


CACOON addresses this knowledge gap by investigating the near-shore regions of the two major Arctic rivers, the Lena and Kolyma, which together drain 19% of the pan-Arctic watershed area. CACOON will quantify the effect of changing freshwater export and terrestrial permafrost thaw on the type and fate of river-borne organic matter delivered to Arctic coastal waters, and the resultant changes to ecosystem functioning in the coastal Arctic Ocean. We will achieve this through a combined observational, experimental and modelling study. We will conduct laboratory experiments to parameterize the susceptibility of terrigenous carbon to abiotic and biotic transformation and losses, then use the results from these to deliver a marine ecosystem model of the major biogeochemical cycles of carbon, nutrients and organic matter cycling in these regions.
CACOON is an international project including project partners in Germany, UK, USA, Russia and Norway.

Project Information

ContactJens Strauss
Project Duration
01.07.2018 -30.06.2021

co funded by

German Federal Ministry of Education and Research

Natural Environment Research Council (NERC)

Funding Recipients

Jens Strauss

Paul J. Mann

Participants (AWI)

Gesine Mollenhauer
Guido Grosse
Paul Overduin
Olga Ogneva

Participants (extern)

Paul J. Mann (Northumbria University, UK)

Luca Polimene (Plymouth Marine Laboratory, UK)

Ricardo Tores (Plymouth Marine Laboratory, UK)

Section (AWI)

Permafrost Research

Marine Geochemistry