Work Package 4

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Ecological consequences of climate change in the Siberian shelf seas

The objective of this work package is to assess ecological impacts of environmental changes (e.g., ocean warming, alteration in water-mass distribution, shifts in seasonal sea-ice dyna-mics, riverine discharge, and cryo-pelagic-benthic coupling) taking place in Siberian Arctic shelf regions. Based on the knowledge gathered in previous research projects targeting the Tranpolar Drift region, this Work Package will address selected structural (Task B) and functional (Task A) aspects in the ecology of pelagic and benthic subsystems, primarily the Laptev Sea. Specifically, the team will investigate (a) how strong seasonal perturbations will impact shelf-break plankton dynamics, particle and carbon fluxes, and seasonal sea-ice pro-cesses, (b) how the interrelationship among the seasonal dynamics of vertical and horizontal particle transport processes and hydrographic, sea-ice and biological production regimes will alter in response to climate change, and (c) how the knowledge of macrobenthic community dynamics and selected ecosystem functions across various spatial scales can be used to infer shifts in distribution patterns of macrofaunal seabed assemblages in response to environ¬mental change. These studies, com¬bining field work, data-mining of historical data and modelling, are timely as the ecological consequences of climate change in the marine domain of high-Arctic regions, particularly in our remote target area, are particularly profound but still little understood.