THEME 6

Arctic Shelf Seas
Arctic Shelf Seas represent about half of the Arctic Ocean and 25% of the entire Ocean Shelves. They have a vital importance for arctic communities, all living on or near the seashores, since these Shelf Seas are providing most of the necessary living resources. The Barents Sea and the Bering Seas are among the most productive oceanic areas on Earth. Most of the Arctic Shelf Seas are also located in the seasonal sea-ice zone (partly ice-free during summertime) and are susceptible in a near future to offer important waterways for major world transportation of goods.

Arctic Shelf Seas collect all the fresh water from Siberian and Canadian rivers and transport it to the deep Arctic basin, covering the entire Arctic Ocean with a 100m-200m thick fresh water lid having a prime role for Sea-Ice formation during freezing periods. Arctic shelf seas are very active during Sea-Ice and Brines formation, as evidenced by the presence of many Polynias (latent heat polynias, coastal polynias).

In the context of the predicted global warming more intense at high latitudes than elsewhere, are Arctic shelves partly glaciated going to be affected ? It is quite clear Arctic shelf Seas Ecosystems will be undergoing major changes in the context of global warming. We invite the scientific community to develop a 10 year Science Plan addressing critical and fundamental issues concerning Arctic Shelf Seas and their ecosystems, specifically oriented towards understanding marine biodiversity in extreme polar environment and the evolution of arctic shelves ecosystems.