ArcticNet - ArcticNet Research

Phase 4 (2015-2018)

Understanding the Effects of Climate Change and Industrial Development on Contaminant Processes and Exposure in the Canadian Arctic Marine Ecosystem: How Can we Prepare?

Project Leader(s)

Stern, Gary A.

Recent studies have shown that climate change is already having significant impacts on many aspects of transport pathways, speciation, cycling and exposure of contaminants within Arctic ecosystems. For example, the extensive loss of sea ice in the Arctic Ocean and the concurrent shift from greater proportions of perennial to annual types have been shown to promote changes in primary productivity, food web structure and mercury distribution and transport across the ocean–sea ice atmosphere interface. In addition to the climate effects on contaminant cycling and exposure in the Arctic, the changes currently underway in sea ice cover, and market pressures for new resources, have resulted in a significant increase in planned or prospective natural resource development. In particular, there has been a resurgence of interest from oil and natural gas companies in exploration and development licensing. Additionally, shipping traffic through the Canadian Arctic is predicted to increase with decreasing ice concentrations. The proposed study will provide valuable scientific information needed to support Arctic governments in their efforts to take remedial and preventive actions relating to contaminants and adverse effects of climate change and industrial development in the Arctic marine environment. It will help answer the question “How can we prepare? Contributes to IRIS: 1, 2, 3, 4