Published August 1, 2021 | Version v1
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Towards a Unifying Pan-Arctic Perspective of the Contemporary and Future Arctic Ocean

  • 1. Department of Arctic and Marine Biology, UiT - The Arctic University of Norway, Tromsø, Norway
  • 2. Department of Bioscience, Aarhus University, Aarhus, Denmark
  • 3. Alfred Wegener Institute Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research, Bremerhaven, Germany


An international symposium addressing pan-Arctic perspectives of the marine ecosystems of the Arctic Ocean took place in October 2017 and this editorial introduces the publications that derived from the conference. The symposium focused in particular upon physical forcing and biogeochemical cycling in surface waters of the Arctic Ocean, connectivity between surface and deep waters in the central basins and adjacent slopes and the ecology of the lesser-known shelf ecosystems. The symposium was the fourth in a sequence that has pan-Arctic integrations of Arctic Ocean ecosystems at its core. The series started in 2002 and its first volume was published under the title Structure and function of contemporary food webs on Arctic shelves (Wassmann, 2006). At the 2002-meeting, a suite of marine Arctic researchers from the main nations that work in the Arctic Ocean started applying the now-ubiquitous term pan-Arctic. The term underlined that the applied research goals and directions were more than a circumarctic perspective, but distinctly considered the entire expanse of the Arctic Ocean. Based upon this exercise, increased interest in the Arctic and some of the scientific endeavors of the 4th International Polar Year central projects and key oceanographers operating in the pan-Arctic region convened at the 2nd pan-Arctic integration symposium, entitled Arctic Marine Ecosystems in an Era of Rapid Climate Change in 2009 (Wassmann, 2011). After a decade of pan-Arctic research and building upon the foundation presented in Wassmann (2006, 2011) a 3rd conference was initiated in 2012, entitled Overarching perspectives of contemporary and future ecosystems in the Arctic Ocean (Wassmann, 2015). This Research Topic brings together 13 publications from the 4th pan-arctic integration symposium held in 2017, entitled Toward a Unifying Pan-Arctic Perspective of the Contemporary and Future Arctic Ocean. We, the editors of the Research Topic, are delighted with the breadth, quality and diversity of the papers. We introduce the essence of the publications under three, summarizing headlines

• Physical connectivity, yet regionality

• What shapes pan-Arctic primary production

• The fate of production.

Toward the end we incorporate the knowledge presented in this volume into the overall progress and status of pan-Arctic marine ecosystem integration that has been achieved, so far, through the four pan-Arctic integration symposia.


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FACE-IT – The future of Arctic coastal ecosystems - Identifying transitions in fjord systems and adjacent coastal areas 869154
European Commission