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Biogeochemical consequences of a changing Arctic shelf seafloor ecosystem

März, Christian and Freitas, Felipe S. and Faust, Johan C. and Godbold, Jasmin A. and Henley, Sian F. and Tessin, Allyson C. and Abbott, Geoffrey D. and Airs, Ruth and Arndt, Sandra and Barnes, David K. A. and Grange, Laura J. and Gray, Neil D. and Head, Ian M. and Hendry, Katharine R. and Hilton, Robert G. and Reed, Adam J. and Rühl, Saskia and Solan, Martin and Souster, Terri A. and Stevenson, Mark A. and Tait, Karen and Ward, James and Widdicombe, Stephen (2022) 'Biogeochemical consequences of a changing Arctic shelf seafloor ecosystem.', Ambio., 51 . pp. 370-382.


Unprecedented and dramatic transformations are occurring in the Arctic in response to climate change, but academic, public, and political discourse has disproportionately focussed on the most visible and direct aspects of change, including sea ice melt, permafrost thaw, the fate of charismatic megafauna, and the expansion of fisheries. Such narratives disregard the importance of less visible and indirect processes and, in particular, miss the substantive contribution of the shelf seafloor in regulating nutrients and sequestering carbon. Here, we summarise the biogeochemical functioning of the Arctic shelf seafloor before considering how climate change and regional adjustments to human activities may alter its biogeochemical and ecological dynamics, including ecosystem function, carbon burial, or nutrient recycling. We highlight the importance of the Arctic benthic system in mitigating climatic and anthropogenic change and, with a focus on the Barents Sea, offer some observations and our perspectives on future management and policy.

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Publisher statement:This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article's Creative Commons licence, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article's Creative Commons licence and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this licence, visit
Date accepted:22 September 2021
Date deposited:05 January 2022
Date of first online publication:09 October 2021
Date first made open access:05 January 2022

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