The project ‘Atlantic Water Pathways to the Arctic: Variability and Effects on Climate and Ecosystems’ PAVE is the multidisciplinary research proposal focused on investigating the response of the Arctic sea ice and biological environment to variability and recent warming of the Atlantic Water (AW) inflow through Fram Strait and the Barents Sea.
The key scientific question is what determines a relative strength of the Atlantic inflow along two main pathways into the Arctic Ocean and how variability of the Atlantic Water properties and transport influence the climate, in particular retreating sea ice cover, and changing ecosystems in the European Arctic.
Atlantic Water is the main source of heat, nutrients and biological energy (plankton) for the Arctic Ocean and will likely be an important pathway for introduction of new species in a future warmer climate. The AW cooling en route to the Arctic Ocean, and therefore its impact on atmosphere, cryospere and biosphere in the Arctic, depends strongly on the pathway along which it enters the Arctic Ocean. More heat is maintained when AW flows through Fram Strait and more heat is lost to the atmosphere when it moves through the Barents Sea but the major question of what is controlling the strength of these branches is not yet resolved. In the PAVE project we will pursue to answer this question using historical time series, new dedicated observations in Fram Strait and the Barents Sea, reanalysis data and state-of-the art numerical models.
Based on analysis of available biological data, an extensive sampling and analysis of plankton in Fram Strait and the Barents Sea during three field campaigns and dedicated runs of the high resolution coupled physical-biological model we will investigate the impact of the AW variability along two main pathways on the vulnerable pelagic Arctic ecosystems and try to predict the possible shifts and changes due to the transition of the Arctic Ocean towards a new, warmer state.
The PAVE project is funded by Norway Grants under the Polish-Norwegian Research Programme operated by the National Center for Research and Development.