, Volume 41, Issue 1, pp 44–55 | Cite as

Tipping Elements in the Arctic Marine Ecosystem

  • Carlos M. Duarte
  • Susana Agustí
  • Paul Wassmann
  • Jesús M. Arrieta
  • Miquel Alcaraz
  • Alexandra Coello
  • Núria Marbà
  • Iris E. Hendriks
  • Johnna Holding
  • Iñigo García-Zarandona
  • Emma Kritzberg
  • Dolors Vaqué


The Arctic marine ecosystem contains multiple elements that present alternative states. The most obvious of which is an Arctic Ocean largely covered by an ice sheet in summer versus one largely devoid of such cover. Ecosystems under pressure typically shift between such alternative states in an abrupt, rather than smooth manner, with the level of forcing required for shifting this status termed threshold or tipping point. Loss of Arctic ice due to anthropogenic climate change is accelerating, with the extent of Arctic sea ice displaying increased variance at present, a leading indicator of the proximity of a possible tipping point. Reduced ice extent is expected, in turn, to trigger a number of additional tipping elements, physical, chemical, and biological, in motion, with potentially large impacts on the Arctic marine ecosystem.


Arctic Tipping points Ecosystem Non-linearity Ice Plankton 



This is a contribution to the Arctic Tipping Points project ( funded by FP7 of the European Union (contract #226248).


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Copyright information

© Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Carlos M. Duarte
    • 1
    • 2
  • Susana Agustí
    • 1
    • 3
  • Paul Wassmann
    • 4
  • Jesús M. Arrieta
    • 1
  • Miquel Alcaraz
    • 5
  • Alexandra Coello
    • 1
  • Núria Marbà
    • 1
  • Iris E. Hendriks
    • 1
  • Johnna Holding
    • 1
  • Iñigo García-Zarandona
    • 1
  • Emma Kritzberg
    • 6
  • Dolors Vaqué
    • 5
  1. 1.IMEDEA (CSIC-UIB), Instituto Mediterráneo de Estudios Avanzados Miquel Marqués 21MallorcaSpain
  2. 2.The UWA Oceans InstituteThe University of Western AustraliaCrawleyAustralia
  3. 3.The UWA Oceans Institute and School of Plant BiologyThe University of Western AustraliaCrawleyAustralia
  4. 4.Department of Arctic and Marine Biology, Faculty of BioscienceFishery and Economy, University of TromsøTromsøNorway
  5. 5.Institut de Ciéncies del Mar, CSIC, Passeig Maritim de la Barceloneta 37-49BarcelonaSpain
  6. 6.Department of BiologyLund University Ecology Building, Sölvegatan 37LundSweden

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