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Polar biocenosis cumulative response to environmental stressors reveals who benefits from marine ice loss
  • Marlena Szeligowska,
  • Bernabé Moreno
Marlena Szeligowska
Institute of Oceanology Polish Academy of Sciences

Corresponding Author:[email protected]

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Bernabé Moreno
Institute of Oceanology Polish Academy of Sciences
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Marine ice is retreating in many sectors of Earth’s polar and subpolar regions. The rates are unprecedented, generating great concern in both scientific and public communities. Despite the expected serious implications, we lack a comprehensive understanding of how ice loss and related processes control marine biota and interactions at different spatiotemporal scales under multiple environmental stressors and drivers of change. We systematically review existing knowledge on how the losses of ice shelves, sea ice, and glaciers affect polar marine biocenosis. We include in situ, remote sensing, and modelling studies on sea ice biota, phyto- and zooplankton, fish, seabirds, phyto- and zoobenthos and marine mammals, covering a time span of three decades (1991-2022). We apply a qualitative ecosystem‐based risk assessment to assess the individual and cumulative response of ecosystem components and related ecosystem services. The most threats and opportunities are expected to manifest in the shallow coastal zones. They include loss of ice habitat, water column darkening due to sediment input with meltwater, increased sedimentation rates, and mechanical damage due to ice scouring, but also gain of marine habitat, lightening of the water column and nutrient input with meltwater. The cumulative score of all the stressors shows that marine ice loss will lead to autotroph-dominated polar marine systems with detrimental effects on secondary producers, i.e. zooplankton and zoobenthos, and sea ice-obligate species. Although similar stressors are recognised for polar and subpolar regions, some processes may differ in magnitude. This overview aims to provide summarised knowledge to inform science-based solutions for conservation and climate mitigation actions.
23 Nov 2022Submitted to Ecography
24 Nov 2022Assigned to Editor
24 Nov 2022Submission Checks Completed
24 Nov 2022Review(s) Completed, Editorial Evaluation Pending
11 Jun 2023Reviewer(s) Assigned
03 Jul 2023Editorial Decision: Revise Major