Disentangling the coupling between sea ice and tundra productivity in Svalbard

Peer Reviewed

Marc Macias-Fauria, Stein Rune Karlsen & Bruce C. Forbes

Scientific Reports, Issue 1, pages 8586, 2017, 10.1038/s41598-017-06218-8.

The rapid decline in Arctic sea ice poses urgent questions concerning its ecological effects, such as on tundra terrestrial productivity. However, reported sea ice/terrestrial productivity linkages have seldom been constrained, and the mechanism governing them remains elusive, with a diversity of spatial scales and metrics proposed, at times in contradiction to each other. In this study, we use spatially explicit remotely sensed sea ice concentration and high-resolution terrestrial productivity estimates (Normalised Difference Vegetation Index, NDVI) across the Svalbard Archipelago to describe local/sub-regional and large-scale components of sea ice/terrestrial productivity coupling. Whereas the local/sub-regional component is attributed to sea breeze (cold air advection from ice-covered ocean onto adjacent land during the growing season), the large-scale component might reflect co-variability of sea ice and tundra productivity due to a common forcing, such as large-scale atmospheric circulation (North Atlantic Oscillation, NAO). Our study clarifies the range of mechanisms in sea ice/terrestrial productivity coupling, allowing the generation of testable hypotheses about its past, present, and future dynamics across the Arctic.

Categories: Arctic, Natural Science