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New Ecosystem Overview for the Central Arctic Ocean

ICES has published a new Ecosystem Overview for the Central Arctic Ocean ecoregion and released updated Overviews for eleven other ecoregions.
Published: 9 December 2021

​​​​​​The Working Group on Integrated Ecosystem Assessment (WGICA) contributed to the main sections of the overview. WGICA is a joint group of ICES, Arctic Council working group on the protection and sustainable use of the Arctic marine environment (PAME), and the North Pacific Marine Science Organization (PICES).

The chairs of the working group, Lis Lindal Jørgensen, Martine van den Heuvel -Greve and  Sei-ichi Saitoh summarized the main points of the overview: “The Central Arctic Ocean ecoregion mostly comprises deep ocean, far from any land (ie. high seas). Climate change is the dominant and overarching driver in the ecoregion. Declining sea ice is affecting stratification and mixing of water masses, species' range and abundance, and facilitating long-distance exchange of species between the Pacific and Atlantic oceans."

“The Central Arctic Ocean is a sink for contaminants and litter transported from global sources via ocean currents, rivers, and air. The ecoregion is unique in the sense that it has fewer human activities than other ICES ecoregions. However, sea ice loss is creating opportunities for the development and expansion of human activities, and shipping in particular."

The Chairs added that one of the big challenges in developing this overview was uncertainty and often a lack of evidence in the ecoregion, which meant that the group also considered information and evidence from nearby areas from the surrounding shelf seas, such as the Barents Sea.

Read the Central Arctic Ecosystem Overview.

What are Ecosystem Overviews?

To manage how human activities affect our seas and oceans, we must be able to assess the impact of human pressures on the ecosystem from the coasts to the deep sea and monitor trends in species and habitat biodiversity. Ecosystem Overviews are one of ICES key products that identify human activities and resulting pressures. Describing the current state of regional ecosystems, the overviews explain how these pressures affect key ecosystem components at a regional level. Presenting the main human activities in a region creates awareness of their distribution and the resultant pressure on the environment and ecosystems across ICES regions.

Find all Ecosystem Overviews.

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New Ecosystem Overview for the Central Arctic Ocean

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