Advective pathways of nutrients and key ecological substances in the Arctic (APEAR)

Lead Research Organisation: National Oceanography Centre (WEF011019)
Department Name: Science and Technology


The fast decline of Arctic sea ice in the last decades is commonly viewed as manifestation of the climate change. The sea ice reduction exposes a large area of the previously ice-covered Arctic Ocean to the atmosphere, and intensifies air-ocean exchanges. This leads to changes in ocean circulation and impacts ocean ecosystems. Due to multiple influences between ocean and sea ice the future state of the Arctic ecosystem is not well understood.

The proposed project will address changes in the ocean currents in the Arctic Ocean and the regional differences the marine ecosystems between the two provinces in the Arctic Ocean: the Atlantic and Pacific sectors. Using historical data, new observations and high-resolution ocean and ecosystem models the project will investigate current changes in the ocean currents, nutrients supply and ecologically important key substances, such as CO2. The data from the "Multidisciplinary drifting Observatory for the Study of Arctic Climate" Observational Programme (MOSAiC; see also will be used. The programme is planned to take place in 2019/2020 and will cover a large part of the Eurasian Basin and central Arctic.

The project will examine nutrient supply to the upper ocean and the changes in marine ecosystems in the future climate change scenarios for the next assessment of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and will quantify the impact of the emerging new Arctic climate on the ecosystems, fisheries, Arctic industries and societies. The project brings together leading researchers from the UK, Germany and Sweden, building on the research expertise in the Polar Sciences. The project will facilitate a new understanding of the Arctic and climate in the UK, Europe and worldwide.

Planned Impact

The rapid decline of Arctic sea ice in the last decades is commonly viewed as manifestation of the climate change. This sea ice reduction has lead to debates in the maritime industries and beyond on the possibility of an increase industrial activities in the area, including in cargo transportation and off-shore exploration, and whether the economical benefits outweigh the risk and the potential damage to the environment. This has generated political debates over the future of the Arctic, public interest, discussions in the media and also a momentum in the Arctic research. For example there was a a Royal Society meeting on Arctic sea ice in 2014 and series of Arctic-related events, including "The Year of Polar Prediction" coordinated by the WMO and the revision of the new Polar Code for Arctic navigation completed in 2016. The knowledge of how the changing Arctic sea ice and ocean can affect the Arctic environment and what are the timescales for the change is crucial for mitigation of the climate impacts in the region and policy making. The change affects UK and international governments and businesses. Better scientifically-based predictions of Arctic sea ice, ocean and ecosystems has a substantial economical value, and also impacts social and environmental policies.

This project brings together leading researchers from the UK and Germany, with the partnership from the Sweden, capitalising on the critical mass of the expertise in the Arctic sea ice, ocean and ecosystems modelling, Arctic physical oceanography and ecosystems, and climate science.

The key practical outcome from the project will be future projections of the changes in the Arctic ecosystems during the 21st century. These projections will include analyses of model uncertainty and will quantify the impact of the emerging influence of the new Arctic physical climate on the ecosystems, helping assessments of the impact on the fisheries, Arctic industries and societies. The results will be utilised for the offshore industries, marine transport and insurance sector. They will assist making informed policy and sustainable development decisions for the Arctic regions. The principal beneficiaries will be: the climate research and forecasting centres, e.g. the UK Met Office; climate research (the IPCC); policy makers (e.g., DEFRA and FCO) and international independent advisory organisations, such as the Arctic Council and Artic Economic Council; off-shore O&G industries, shipping classification societies; environmental monitoring bodies, e.g., Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Programme of the Arctic Council Working Group and the general public and local communities.


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Related Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Award Value
NE/R012865/1 01/07/2018 31/10/2019 £430,173
NE/R012865/2 Transfer NE/R012865/1 01/11/2019 31/12/2021 £252,090