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Climate change impacts on sea-ice ecosystems and associated ecosystem services


Steiner, NS and Bowman, J and Campbell, K and Chierici, M and Eronen-Rasimus, E and Falardeau, M and Flores, H and Fransson, A and Herr, H and Insley, SJ and Kauko, HM and Lannuzel, D and Loseto, L and Lynnes, A and Majewski, A and Meiners, KM and Miller, LA and Michel, LN and Moreau, S and Nacke, M and Nomura, D and Tedesco, L and van Franeker, JA and van Leeuwe, MA and Wongpan, P, Climate change impacts on sea-ice ecosystems and associated ecosystem services, Elementa, 9, (1) Article 00007. ISSN 2325-1026 (2021) [Refereed Article]

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Copyright Statement

Copyright: 2021 The Author(s). This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC-BY 4.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited. See

DOI: doi:10.1525/elementa.2021.00007


A rigorous synthesis of the sea-ice ecosystem and linked ecosystem services highlights that the sea-ice ecosystem supports all 4 ecosystem service categories, that sea-ice ecosystems meet the criteria for ecologically or biologically significant marine areas, that global emissions driving climate change are directly linked to the demise of sea-ice ecosystems and its ecosystem services, and that the sea-ice ecosystem deserves specific attention in the evaluation of marine protected area planning. The synthesis outlines (1) supporting services, provided in form of habitat, including feeding grounds and nurseries for microbes, meiofauna, fish, birds and mammals (particularly the key species Arctic cod, Boreogadus saida, and Antarctic krill, Euphausia superba, which are tightly linked to the sea-ice ecosystem and transfer carbon from sea-ice primary producers to higher trophic level fish, mammal species and humans); (2) provisioning services through harvesting and medicinal and genetic resources; (3) cultural services through Indigenous and local knowledge systems, cultural identity and spirituality, and via cultural activities, tourism and research; (4) (climate) regulating services through light regulation, the production of biogenic aerosols, halogen oxidation and the release or uptake of greenhouse gases, for example, carbon dioxide. The ongoing changes in the polar regions have strong impacts on sea-ice ecosystems and associated ecosystem services. While the response of sea-ice - associated primary production to environmental change is regionally variable, the effect on ice-associated mammals and birds is predominantly negative, subsequently impacting human harvesting and cultural services in both polar regions. Conservation can help protect some species and functions. However, the key mitigation measure that can slow the transition to a strictly seasonal ice cover in the Arctic Ocean, reduce the overall loss of sea-ice habitats from the ocean, and thus preserve the unique ecosystem services provided by sea ice and their contributions to human well-being is a reduction in carbon emissions.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:coral range extension, marine parks range edge, climate change, heatwaves, temperate reefs monitoring
Research Division:Biological Sciences
Research Group:Ecology
Research Field:Marine and estuarine ecology (incl. marine ichthyology)
Objective Division:Environmental Management
Objective Group:Marine systems and management
Objective Field:Assessment and management of benthic marine ecosystems
UTAS Author:Lannuzel, D (Associate Professor Delphine Lannuzel)
UTAS Author:Meiners, KM (Dr Klaus Meiners)
UTAS Author:Wongpan, P (Mr Pat Wongpan)
ID Code:147428
Year Published:2021
Funding Support:Australian Research Council (A00001077)
Web of Science® Times Cited:6
Deposited By:Ecology and Biodiversity
Deposited On:2021-10-31
Last Modified:2021-12-23
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