Climate change is altering nutrient cycling within the Arctic Ocean, having knock-on effects to Arctic ecosystems. Primary production in the Arctic is principally nitrogen-limited, particularly in the western Pacific-dominated regions where denitrification exacerbates nitrogen loss. The nutrient status of the eastern Eurasian Arctic remains under debate. In the Barents Sea, primary production has increased by 88% since 1998. To support this rapid increase in productivity, either the standing stock of nutrients has been depleted, or the external nutrient supply has increased. Atlantic water inflow, enhanced mixing, benthic nitrogen cycling, and land–ocean interaction have the potential to alter the nutrient supply through addition, dilution or removal. Here we use new datasets from the Changing Arctic Ocean program alongside historical datasets to assess how nitrate and phosphate concentrations may be changing in response to these processes. We highlight how nutrient dynamics may continue to change, why this is important for regional and international policy-making and suggest relevant research priorities for the future.
- Climate change