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Tipping Elements in the Arctic Marine Ecosystem

  • Carlos M. Duarte
  • Susana Agusti
  • Paul Wassmann
  • Jesus M. Arrieta
  • Miquel Alcaraz
  • Alexandra Coello
  • Nuria Marba
  • Iris E. Hendriks
  • Johnna Holding
  • Inigo Garcia-Zarandona
  • Emma Kritzberg
  • Dolors Vaque
Publishing year: 2012
Language: English
Pages: 44-55
Publication/Series: Ambio
Volume: 41
Issue: 1
Document type: Journal article
Publisher: Springer

Abstract english

The Arctic marine ecosystem contains multiple elements that present alternative states. The most obvious of which is an Arctic Ocean largely covered by an ice sheet in summer versus one largely devoid of such cover. Ecosystems under pressure typically shift between such alternative states in an abrupt, rather than smooth manner, with the level of forcing required for shifting this status termed threshold or tipping point. Loss of Arctic ice due to anthropogenic climate change is accelerating, with the extent of Arctic sea ice displaying increased variance at present, a leading indicator of the proximity of a possible tipping point. Reduced ice extent is expected, in turn, to trigger a number of additional tipping elements, physical, chemical, and biological, in motion, with potentially large impacts on the Arctic marine ecosystem.


  • Ecology
  • Arctic
  • Tipping points
  • Ecosystem
  • Non-linearity
  • Ice
  • Plankton


  • BECC
  • ISSN: 0044-7447
Emma Kritzberg
E-mail: emma [dot] kritzberg [at] biol [dot] lu [dot] se

Senior lecturer

Aquatic ecology

+46 46 222 40 79



Research group

Aquatic Ecology


Doctoral students and postdocs

PhD students, main supervisor

PhD students, assistant supervisor

Post docs

Johanna Sjöstedt