Kongsfjorden as harbinger of the future Arctic: knowns, unknowns and research priorities
Due to its year-round accessibility and excellent on-site infrastructure, Kongsfjorden and the Ny-Ålesund Research and Monitoring Facility have become established as a primary location to study the impact of environmental change on Arctic coastal ecosystems. Due to its location right at the interface of Arctic and Atlantic oceanic regimes, Kongsfjorden already experiences large amplitudes of variability in physico/chemical conditions and might, thus, be considered as an early warning indicator of future changes, which can then be extrapolated in a pan-Arctic perspective. Already now, Kongsfjorden represents one of the best-studied Arctic fjord systems. However, research conducted to date has concentrated largely on small disciplinary projects, prompting the need for a higher level of integration of future research activities. This contribution, thus, aims at identifying gaps in knowledge and research priorities with respect to ecological and adaptive responses to Arctic ecosystem changes. By doing so we aim to provide a stimulus for the initiation of new international and interdisciplinary research initiatives.