Biogeochemical consequences of a changing Arctic shelf seafloor ecosystem
Unprecedented and dramatic transformations are occurring in the Arctic in response to climate change, but academic, public, and political discourse has disproportionately focussed on the most visible and direct aspects of change, including sea ice melt, permafrost thaw, the fate of charismatic megafauna, and the expansion of fisheries. Such narratives disregard the importance of less visible and indirect processes and, in particular, miss the substantive contribution of the shelf seafloor in regulating nutrients and sequestering carbon. Here, we summarise the biogeochemical functioning of the Arctic shelf seafloor before considering how climate change and regional adjustments to human activities may alter its biogeochemical and ecological dynamics, including ecosystem function, carbon burial, or nutrient recycling. We highlight the importance of the Arctic benthic system in mitigating climatic and anthropogenic change and, with a focus on the Barents Sea, offer some observations and our perspectives on future management and policy.
Authors: März, Christian, Freitas, Felipe S., Faust, Johan C., Godbold, Jasmin A., Henley, Sian F., Tessin, Allyson C., Abbott, Geoffrey D., Airs, Ruth, Arndt, Sandra, Barnes, David K.A. ORCID record for David K.A. Barnes, Grange, Laura J., Gray, Neil D., Head, Ian M., Hendry, Katharine R., Hilton, Robert G., Reed, Adam J., Rühl, Saskia, Solan, Martin, Souster, Terri A. ORCID record for Terri A. Souster, Stevenson, Mark A., Tait, Karen, Ward, James, Widdicombe, Stephen