AMBIO

, Volume 41, Issue 1, pp 56–65 | Cite as

Detecting and Coping with Disruptive Shocks in Arctic Marine Systems: A Resilience Approach to Place and People

  • Eddy Carmack
  • Fiona McLaughlin
  • Gail Whiteman
  • Thomas Homer-Dixon
Article

Abstract

It seems inevitable that the ongoing and rapid changes in the physical environment of the marine Arctic will push components of the region’s existing social-ecological systems—small and large—beyond tipping points and into new regimes. Ongoing changes include warming, freshening, acidification, and alterations to food web structure. In anticipation we pose three distinct but interrelated challenges: (1) to explore existing connectivities within components of the marine system; (2) to seek indicators (if they exist) of approaching regime change through observation and modeling; and (3) to build functional resilience into existing systems through adaptation-oriented policy and to have in hand transformative options when tipping points are crossed and new development trajectories are required. Each of the above challenges is scale dependent, and each requires a much deeper understanding than we currently have of connectivity within existing systems and their response to external forcing. Here, we argue from a global perspective the need to understand the Arctic’s role in an increasingly nonlinear world; then describe emerging evidence from new observations on the connectivity of processes and system components from the Canada Basin and subarctic seas surrounding northern North America; and finally posit an approach founded in “resilience thinking” to allow northern residents living in small coastal communities to participate in the observation, adaption and—if necessary—transformation of the social-ecological system with which they live.

Keywords

Arctic Ocean Climate change Biogeochemical systems Resilience Regime shifts 

Notes

Acknowledgments

We wish to recognize encouragement and intellectual inspiration from CS (Buzz) Holling, Brian Walker, Bob Dickson and Paul Wassmann. We are deeply grateful to our colleagues Koji Shimada, Bill Williams, Andrey Proshutinsky, Rick Krishfield, Sarah Zimmermann, Jane Eert, and Mike Dempsey, to our dedicated science teams and to the officers and crews of the CCGS Louis S. St‐Laurent and CCGS Sir Wilfrid Laurier. We acknowledge financial support from Fisheries and Oceans Canada, the US National Science Foundation Office of Polar Programs (grant OPP‐0424864) and the Canadian International Polar Year Federal Program Office.

References

  1. Barber, R.T. 2007. Picoplankton do some heavy lifting. Science 315: 777–778. doi: 10.1126/science.1137438.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Carmack, E., and D.C. Chapman. 2003. Wind-driven shelf/basin exchange on an Arctic shelf: The joint roles of ice cover extent and shelf-break bathymetry. Geophysical Research Letters 30. doi:  10.1029/2003GL017526.
  3. Carmack, E.C., and R.W. Macdonald. 2008. Water- and ice-related phenomena in the coastal region of the Beaufort Sea: Some parallels between native experience and western science. Arctic 61: 265–280.Google Scholar
  4. Carmack, E.C., and F.A. McLaughlin. 2011. Towards recognition of physical and geochemical change in subarctic and Arctic Seas. Progress in Oceanography 90: 90–104.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Dakos, V., M. Scheffer, E.H. van Ness, V. Brovkin, V. Petoukhov, and H. Held. 2008. Slowing down as an early warning signal for abrupt climate change. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA 105: 14308–14312.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Dickson, R. 2011. The fostering of cross-disciplinary science as a result of the IPY: ‘connectivity’ created by the Canada Three Oceans project. Polar Research 30. doi: 10.3402/polar.v30i0.10908.
  7. Fienup-Riodan, A., and E. Carmack. 2011. The Ocean is always changing: Nearshore and farshore perspectives on Arctic coastal seas. Oceanography 24: 242–255.Google Scholar
  8. Folke, C., S. Carpenter, T. Elmqvist, L. Gunderson, C.S. Holling, and B. Walker. 2002. Resilience and sustainable development: Building adaptive capacity in a world of transformations. Ambio 31: 437–440.Google Scholar
  9. Goodstein, E., E. Euskirchen, and H. Huntington. 2010. An initial estimate of the cost of lost climate regulation services due to changes in the Arctic Cryosphere. Washington, DC: Pew Centre.Google Scholar
  10. Gunderson, L.H., and C.S. Holling. 2002. Panarchy: Understanding transformations in a changing world. Washington, DC: Island Press.Google Scholar
  11. Hamilton, L.C., B.C. Brown, and R.O. Rasmussen. 2003. West Greenlands cod-to-shrimp transition: Local dimensions and climate change. Arctic 56: 271–282.Google Scholar
  12. Huntington, H.P. 2011. The local perspective. Nature 478: 182–183.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change). 2007. In The Physical Science Basis. Contribution of Working Group I to the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, eds. S. D. Solomon et al. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  14. Jackson, J.M., E.C. Carmack, F.A. McLaughlin, S.E. Allen, and R.G. Ingram. 2010. Identification, characterization and change of the near-surface temperature maximum in the Canada Basin, 1993–2008. Journal of Geophysical Research 115: 05021. doi: 10.1029/2009JC005265,2010.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Jackson, J.M., S.E. Allen, F.A. McLaughlin, R.A. Woodgate, and E.C. Carmack. 2011. Changes in near-surface waters in the Canada Basin, Arctic Ocean, from 1993 to 2009: A basin in transition. Journal of Geophysical Research 116. doi: 10.1029/2011JC007069.
  16. Kwok, R., G.F. Cunningham, M. Wensnahan, I. Rigor, H.J. Zwally, and D. Yi. 2009. Thinning and volume loss of Arctic Sea ice: 2003–2008. Journal of Geophysical Research 114. doi: 10.1029/2009JC005312.
  17. Lenton, T.M., H. Held, E. Kriegler, J.W. Hall, W. Lucht, S. Rahmstorf, and H.J. Schellnhuber. 2008. Tipping elements in the Earth’s climate system. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA 105: 1786–1793. doi: 10.1073/pnas.0705414105.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Li, W.K.W., F.A. McLaughlin, C. Lovejoy, and E.C. Carmack. 2009. Smallest algae Thrive as the Arctic Ocean freshens. Science 326: 539. doi: 10.1126/science.1179798.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Mård Karlsson, J., A. Bring, G.D. Peterson, L.J. Gordon, and G. Destouni. 2011. Opportunities and limitations to detect climate-related regime shifts in inland Arctic ecosystems through eco-hydrological monitoring. Environmental Research Letters 6: 014015.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. McLaughlin, F.A., and E.C. Carmack. 2010. Deepening of the nutricline and chlorophyll maximum in the Canada Basin interior, 2003–2009. Geophysical Research Letters 37: L24602. doi: 10.1029/2010GL045459.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. McLaughlin, F.A., E.C. Carmack, W.J. Williams, S. Zimmermann, K. Shimada, and M. Itoh. 2009. Joint effects of boundary currents and thermohaline intrusions on the warming of Atlantic water in the Canada Basin, 1993–2007. Journal of Geophysical Research 114. doi: 10.1029/2008jc005001.
  22. Munich, R.E. 2010. Weather extremes, climate change, Cancún 2010. http://www.munichre.com/app_pages/www/@res/pdf/media_relations/press_dossiers/cancun_2010/press_folder_cancun_2010_en.pdf. Accessed 19 Dec 2011.
  23. Overland, J.E., K.R. Wood, and M. Wang. 2011. Warm Arctic-cold continents: Climate impacts of the newly open Arctic Sea. Polar Research 30. doi: 10.3402/polar.v30i0.15787.
  24. Parsons, T.R., and C.M. Lalli. 2002. Jellyfish population explosions: revisiting a hypothesis of possible causes. La mer 40: 111–121. Tokyo: Société franco-japonaise d’ océanographie.Google Scholar
  25. Proshutinsky, A., R.H. Bourke, and F.A. McLaughlin. 2002. The role of the Beaufort Gyre in Arctic climate variability: Seasonal to decadal climate scales. Geophysical Research Letters 29: 2100–2105. doi: 10.1029/2002GL015847.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Proshutinsky, A., R. Krishfield, M.-L. Timmermans, J. Toole, E. Carmack, F. McLaughlin, W.J. Williams, S. Zimmermann, M. Itoh, and K. Shimada. 2009. Beaufort Gyre freshwater reservoir: State and variability from observations. Journal of Geophysical Research 114. doi: 10.1029/2008jc005104.
  27. Serreze, M.C., and R.G. Barry. 2011. Processes and impacts of Arctic amplification: A research synthesis. Global and Planetary Change 7: 85–96. doi: 10.1016/j.gloplacha.2011.03.004.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Shimada, K., T. Kamoshida, M. Itoh, S. Nishino, E. Carmack, F. McLaughlin, S. Zimmermann, and A. Proshutinsky. 2006. Pacific Ocean inflow: Influence on catastrophic reduction of sea ice cover in the Arctic Ocean. Geophysical Research Letters 33: L08605. doi: 10.1029/2005GL025624.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Toole, J.M., M.-L. Timmermans, D.K. Perovich, R.A. Krishfield, A. Proshutinsky, and J.A. Richter-Menge. 2010. Influences of the ocean surface mixed layer and thermohaline stratification on Arctic Sea ice in the central Canada Basin. Journal of Geophysical Research 115: C10018. doi: 10.1029/2009JC005660.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Visbeck, M. 2008. From climate assessment to climate services. Nature Geosciences 1: 2–3.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Walker, B., and D. Salt. 2006. Resilience thinking: Sustaining ecosystems and people in a changing world. Washington, DC: Island Press.Google Scholar
  32. Whiteman, G., and W.H. Cooper. 2011. Ecological sensemaking. Academy of Management Journal 54: 889–991.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Woodgate, R.A., T. Weingartner, and R. Lindsay. 2010. The 2007 Bering Strait oceanic heat flux and anomalous Arctic Sea-ice retreat. Geophysical Research Letters 37: L01602. doi: 10.1029/2009GL041621.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Yamamoto-Kawai, M., F.A. McLaughlin, E. Carmack, S. Nishino, and K. Shimada. 2009. Aragonite under saturation in the Arctic Ocean: Effects if ocean acidification and sea ice melt. Science 326: 1098–1100.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Yang, J. 2009. Seasonal and interannual variability of downwelling in the Beaufort Sea. Journal of Geophysical Research 114. doi: 10.1029/2008JC005084.
  36. Zhang, X., A. Sorteberg, J. Zhang, and R. Gerdes. 2008. Recent radical shifts of atmospheric circulations and rapid changes in Arctic climate system. Geophysical Research Letters 35: L22701. doi: 10.1029/2008GL035607.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Eddy Carmack
    • 1
  • Fiona McLaughlin
    • 1
  • Gail Whiteman
    • 2
  • Thomas Homer-Dixon
    • 3
  1. 1.Institute of Ocean SciencesSidneyCanada
  2. 2.Rotterdam School of ManagementErasmus University RotterdamRotterdamThe Netherlands
  3. 3.Balsillie School of International AffairsUniversity of WaterlooWaterlooCanada

Personalised recommendations