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A synthesis of the arctic terrestrial and marine carbon cycles under pressure from a dwindling cryosphere

Parmentier, Frans-Jan W., Christensen, Torben R., Rysgaard, Søren, Bendtsen, Jørgen, Glud, Ronnie N., Else, Brent, van Huissteden, Jacobus, Sachs, Torsten, Vonk, Jorien E., Sejr, Mikael K.
Ambio 2017 v.46 no.Supplement 1 pp. 53-69
carbon, carbon cycle, carbon dioxide, climate, climate change, ecosystems, glaciers, ice, melting, models, permafrost, rivers, Arctic region
The current downturn of the arctic cryosphere, such as the strong loss of sea ice, melting of ice sheets and glaciers, and permafrost thaw, affects the marine and terrestrial carbon cycles in numerous interconnected ways. Nonetheless, processes in the ocean and on land have been too often considered in isolation while it has become increasingly clear that the two environments are strongly connected: Sea ice decline is one of the main causes of the rapid warming of the Arctic, and the flow of carbon from rivers into the Arctic Ocean affects marine processes and the air–sea exchange of CO₂. This review, therefore, provides an overview of the current state of knowledge of the arctic terrestrial and marine carbon cycle, connections in between, and how this complex system is affected by climate change and a declining cryosphere. Ultimately, better knowledge of biogeochemical processes combined with improved model representations of ocean–land interactions are essential to accurately predict the development of arctic ecosystems and associated climate feedbacks.