The primary objective of SI_ARCTIC is to develop a knowledge base on the state and variability of the of the present and future Arctic Ocean ecosystem and to explore potential options for providing ecosystem-based advice in a changing climate context.

SI_ARCTIC (Strategic Initiative – The Arctic Ocean Ecosystem) is a 5-year (2014-2018) strategic initiative at Institute of Marine Research. It is funded by the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Fisheries through the Norwegian Research Council.

Understanding and being able to quantify key physical and biological processes of the Arctic Ocean is imperative to reveal and forecast future ecosystem change. The innate coupling between pelagic resources and bottom living organisms, between shelf, slope and deep water communities needs to be understood and quantified. The consequences of a warming Arctic on the ocean carbonate system, lower trophic level productivity, fish migrations and distribution, and further implications for top predators such as seals and whales is critical to understand the fate of the ecosystem in a changing Arctic Ocean.

In such a dynamic and rapidly changing physical environment, (ice retreat, light conditions and ocean chemistry) it is hard to know precisely why some species can cope and others not - obtaining a better understanding of this will allow us to better predict how particular species, trophic structures, productivity and energy pathways in the Arctic Ocean can be affected. SI_ARCTIC therefore examine the underlying mechanisms and potential long term impact of changes in the physical characteristics, phytoplankton, mesozooplankton, fish, marine mammals and benthic communities of the Arctic Ocean ecosystem in the region under Norwegian jurisdiction.

In the project we do so by conducting new surveys in combination with using historical data, traditional surveying, process and experimental studies. A long-term monitoring program will be developed suited for present and future monitoring of the region. New data will also improve model simulation capabilities with respect to key species, native and immigrants, their distribution and production in present and tentatively new habitats, and aid the exploration of potential options for providing ecosystem-based advice. 

SI_ARCTIC will increase the knowledge and competence on the Arctic Ocean, and enable the institute to significantly improve its abilities to give better advice on the ecosystem effects of climate change, through a collaborative national effort.

The SI_ARCTIC secondary objectives are:

  • To obtain an ecosystem description and understanding of the Arctic Ocean
  • To develop an understanding of the vital rates and parameters that is important for the functioning of the present Arctic Ocean ecosystem
  • To develop an understanding of the species present and the functioning of the future Arctic Ocean Ecosystem
  • To identify options for providing ecosystem-based scientific advice to prepare for a better defined advisory process in the IMR, utilizing also integrated ecosystem assessments
  • To develop a monitoring program suited for present and future monitoring of the waters under Norwegian jurisdiction in the Arctic Ocean