On thin ice? Climatic influence on energy flow and trophic structure in Arctic Marine Ecosystems

We aim to test the hypothesis that changing ice conditions associated with different climatic regimes drives primary production on the northern Svalbard shelf through different carbon sources (ice algae vs. phytoplankton). We propose that such variation in the dominant source pathways of primary production has concomitant effects to both the pelagic and benthic systems, as well as the trophic pathways by which they are coupled. We will carry out an extensive field campaign, combined with laboratory analyses to test a series of working hyptheses related to primary producers, zooplankton and benthic components. Our test region is the northern Barents Sea near northeast Spitsbergen where sea ice varies on small spatial and temporal scales. We will compare systems influenced predominantly by different water masses, i.e. Atlantic water (warm scenario) vs. Arctic water (cold scenario) and we will assess temporal aspects by sampling in different years. Ultimately, this study aims to provide insight into the enegetic pathways and trophic structure of this ecosystem and its stability versus sensitivity in the face of predicted future climate changes. Such an ecosystem-based approach is the most effective means to understand the possible consequences of climate change to climate change to biotic systems.
This year: spring and summer cruises north and east of Svalbard for combined ice, water and benthic work. Growth experiences in Ny- Ålesund in late May.