Vulnerability of the North Water ecosystem to climate change

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Ribeiro , S , Limoges , A , Masse , G , Johansen , K L , Colgan , W , Weckstrom , K , Jackson , R , Georgiadis , E , Mikkelsen , N , Kuijpers , A , Olsen , J , Olsen , S M , Nissen , M , Andersen , T J , Strunk , A , Wetterich , S , Syvaranta , J , Henderson , A C G , Mackay , H , Taipale , S , Jeppesen , E , Larsen , N K , Crosta , X , Giraudeau , J , Wengrat , S , Nuttall , M , Gronnow , B , Mosbech , A & Davidson , T A 2021 , ' Vulnerability of the North Water ecosystem to climate change ' , Nature Communications , vol. 12 , 4475 .

Title: Vulnerability of the North Water ecosystem to climate change
Author: Ribeiro, Sofia; Limoges, Audrey; Masse, Guillaume; Johansen, Kasper L.; Colgan, William; Weckstrom, Kaarina; Jackson, Rebecca; Georgiadis, Eleanor; Mikkelsen, Naja; Kuijpers, Antoon; Olsen, Jesper; Olsen, Steffen M.; Nissen, Martin; Andersen, Thorbjorn J.; Strunk, Astrid; Wetterich, Sebastian; Syvaranta, Jari; Henderson, Andrew C. G.; Mackay, Helen; Taipale, Sami; Jeppesen, Erik; Larsen, Nicolaj K.; Crosta, Xavier; Giraudeau, Jacques; Wengrat, Simone; Nuttall, Mark; Gronnow, Bjarne; Mosbech, Anders; Davidson, Thomas A.
Contributor organization: Helsinki Institute of Sustainability Science (HELSUS)
Ecosystems and Environment Research Programme
Environmental Change Research Unit (ECRU)
Date: 2021-07-22
Language: eng
Number of pages: 12
Belongs to series: Nature Communications
ISSN: 2041-1723
Abstract: High Arctic ecosystems and Indigenous livelihoods are tightly linked and exposed to climate change, yet assessing their sensitivity requires a long-term perspective. Here, we assess the vulnerability of the North Water polynya, a unique seaice ecosystem that sustains the world's northernmost Inuit communities and several keystone Arctic species. We reconstruct mid-to-late Holocene changes in sea ice, marine primary production, and little auk colony dynamics through multi-proxy analysis of marine and lake sediment cores. Our results suggest a productive ecosystem by 4400-4200 cal yrs b2k coincident with the arrival of the first humans in Greenland. Climate forcing during the late Holocene, leading to periods of polynya instability and marine productivity decline, is strikingly coeval with the human abandonment of Greenland from c. 2200-1200 cal yrs b2k. Our long-term perspective highlights the future decline of the North Water ecosystem, due to climate warming and changing sea-ice conditions, as an important climate change risk. The North Water polynya is a unique but vulnerable ecosystem, home to Indigenous people and Arctic keystone species. New palaeoecological records from Greenland suggest human abandonment c. 2200-1200 cal yrs BP occurred during climate-forced polynya instability, foreshadowing future ecosystem declines.
Subject: SEA-ICE
1172 Environmental sciences
Peer reviewed: Yes
Rights: cc_by
Usage restriction: openAccess
Self-archived version: publishedVersion

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