De-icing of Arctic Coasts

De-icing of Arctic Coasts: Critical or new opportunities for marine biodiversity and Ecosystem Services? ACCES

The Arctic is characterized by an extensive coastline – 34% of the total global coastline! These nearshore waters are among the most productive regions and by far the most preferred ecotype for human settlements in the Arctic. Less sea ice, increased coastal erosion and sediment loads will physically change the nearshore bottom habitats and, thus, the biodiversity of these regions with cascading effects on food webs. Consequently, the coastal ecosystem goods and services (provisional, regulatory, socio-cultural) will also encounter changes. 

This project financed by led by UNIS, comprises a strong pan-Arctic and multidisciplinary team from Norway, Poland, Canada, US and Denmark. It will synthesize existing environmental and biodiversity data and generate new knowledge from sites spanning over a wide geographical scale from the Pacific to the Atlantic Arctic. The overall goal is to determine different de-icing scenarios to allow early warning of (socio-) ecological breakpoints and regime shifts and provide scientific and social science advice for sustainable ecosystem-based management of coastal regions in the high-Arctic.

This will be accomplished by the following sub-goals:

  1. Determine to what extent changes in hydrography, nutrient dynamics, underwater light and sediment load impact primary producers’ biodiversity, distribution and bloom phenology.
  2. Identify consequences of sea ice decline on nearshore metazoan biodiversity, distribution and trophic structure.
  3. Start dialog with relevant stakeholders to document and analyse their development strategies and knowledge-needs in light of different de-icing scenarios.

This project is funded by Belmont Forum and BiodivERsA joint call for research proposals, under the BiodivScen ERA-Net COFUND programme. For more information visit the project home page:

Contact person: Associate professor Janne E. Søreide.