AMBIO

, Volume 41, Issue 1, pp 44–55

Tipping Elements in the Arctic Marine Ecosystem

Authors

    • IMEDEA (CSIC-UIB), Instituto Mediterráneo de Estudios Avanzados Miquel Marqués 21
    • The UWA Oceans InstituteThe University of Western Australia
  • Susana Agustí
    • IMEDEA (CSIC-UIB), Instituto Mediterráneo de Estudios Avanzados Miquel Marqués 21
    • The UWA Oceans Institute and School of Plant BiologyThe University of Western Australia
  • Paul Wassmann
    • Department of Arctic and Marine Biology, Faculty of BioscienceFishery and Economy, University of Tromsø
  • Jesús M. Arrieta
    • IMEDEA (CSIC-UIB), Instituto Mediterráneo de Estudios Avanzados Miquel Marqués 21
  • Miquel Alcaraz
    • Institut de Ciéncies del Mar, CSIC, Passeig Maritim de la Barceloneta 37-49
  • Alexandra Coello
    • IMEDEA (CSIC-UIB), Instituto Mediterráneo de Estudios Avanzados Miquel Marqués 21
  • Núria Marbà
    • IMEDEA (CSIC-UIB), Instituto Mediterráneo de Estudios Avanzados Miquel Marqués 21
  • Iris E. Hendriks
    • IMEDEA (CSIC-UIB), Instituto Mediterráneo de Estudios Avanzados Miquel Marqués 21
  • Johnna Holding
    • IMEDEA (CSIC-UIB), Instituto Mediterráneo de Estudios Avanzados Miquel Marqués 21
  • Iñigo García-Zarandona
    • IMEDEA (CSIC-UIB), Instituto Mediterráneo de Estudios Avanzados Miquel Marqués 21
  • Emma Kritzberg
    • Department of BiologyLund University Ecology Building, Sölvegatan 37
  • Dolors Vaqué
    • Institut de Ciéncies del Mar, CSIC, Passeig Maritim de la Barceloneta 37-49
Article

DOI: 10.1007/s13280-011-0224-7

Cite this article as:
Duarte, C.M., Agustí, S., Wassmann, P. et al. AMBIO (2012) 41: 44. doi:10.1007/s13280-011-0224-7

Abstract

The Arctic marine ecosystem contains multiple elements that present alternative states. The most obvious of which is an Arctic Ocean largely covered by an ice sheet in summer versus one largely devoid of such cover. Ecosystems under pressure typically shift between such alternative states in an abrupt, rather than smooth manner, with the level of forcing required for shifting this status termed threshold or tipping point. Loss of Arctic ice due to anthropogenic climate change is accelerating, with the extent of Arctic sea ice displaying increased variance at present, a leading indicator of the proximity of a possible tipping point. Reduced ice extent is expected, in turn, to trigger a number of additional tipping elements, physical, chemical, and biological, in motion, with potentially large impacts on the Arctic marine ecosystem.

Keywords

ArcticTipping pointsEcosystemNon-linearityIcePlankton

Copyright information

© Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences 2012