The large basins of the Central Arctic Ocean (CAO) have been identified as a Large Marine Ecosystem (LME), and there is now a need to consider whether an Integrated Ecosystem Assessment (IEA) should be carried out for this LME. ICES/AMAP WKICA will scope and further develop IEA for the CAO, as a step towards implementing the ecosystem approach.
The inflows to the CAO from both the Atlantic and Pacific have decisive roles for the circulation and ice conditions in the CAO, and the conditions in the CAO again influence the climate and climate variability in the northern North Atlantic and North Pacific. Better understanding of the role of the CAO in the hemispherical and global climate systems will contribute to better understanding of climate and ecosystem variability in the core ICES area in the North Atlantic as well as in the Bering Sea and Gulf of Alaska in the North Pacific
The sea ice in the Arctic Ocean is diminishing both in area and thickness and the sea ice habitat is threatened by global climate change. There is a need to assess the current and future impacts of climate variability and change on the unique sea ice flora and fauna, as well as the subpopulations of polar bears around the CAO. The peripheral area of the drift ice of the CAO is also used by seabirds, notably ivory and Ross's gulls. Polar and Arctic cod along with ice amphipods and other ice fauna are the food base for ringed seals, beluga whales, narwhals and polar bears which use the drift ice of the CAO in summer.
Coastal Arctic states are also interested in clarifying the prospects of future Arctic fisheries under climate change.
Contaminants enter the Arctic through air and water. Climate variability and change will affect the physical and biological transport pathways of contaminants (ref AMAP 'pathway' report from 2002) and their biological effects in the CAO as well as in adjacent and linked ecosystems (e.g. the Barents and Greenland seas). An IEA may include assessment of the current and future pollution status in the CAO.Arctic marine shipping is also an activity that may be included in an IEA for the CAO.
ICES/AMAP WKICA will consider the following issues: