Tromsø by night
Photo: Tromsø municipality
Print friendly version

2017 ESSAS Open Science Meeting on Subarctic and Arctic Science

Moving in, out, and across Arctic and Subarctic Marine Ecosystems: Shifting Boundaries of Water, Ice, Flora, Fauna, People and Institutions 11-15 June 2017, Tromsø, Norway.

Information on registration and abstract submission, venue and accommodation, financial support, transportation, keynote speakers, and co-sponsors can be found on the right hand side of the page.


The Ecosystem Studies of Subarctic and Arctic Seas (ESSAS) is a regional program of the Integrated Marine Biogeochemistry and Ecosystem Research (IMBER) project.  Its objectives are to understand how climate variability and climate change affect the marine ecosystems of Subarctic and Arctic seas and their sustainability, and in turn, how changes in these marine ecosystems affect humans. The Subarctic seas support large stocks of commercial fish that generate a major portion of the fish landings of the nations bordering them. Both the Subarctic and Arctic marine ecosystems support subsistence fishers along their coasts, and vast numbers of marine birds and mammals. Climate-forced changes in these systems have major economic and societal impacts. ESSAS conducts research to compare, quantify, and predict the impact of climate variability and global change on the productivity and sustainability of Subarctic and Arctic marine ecosystems.

This 3rd Open Science Meeting (OSM) is intended to attract an interdisciplinary group of scholars who will be prepared to discuss their research in the Subarctic, in both the North Atlantic and the North Pacific, and the Arctic Ocean. The title of the OSM is Moving in, out and across the Subarctic and Arctic marine ecosystems: shifting boundaries of water, ice, flora, fauna, people and institutions. We wish to document the changes that have occurred, the processes that led to these changes, and how future changes are likely to further affect these marine ecosystems. We also wish to consider the people who depend upon these ecosystems and how they may be able to cope with the changes in the ecosystem goods and services that they derive from these ecosystems. These include the availability of subsistence foods and the opportunity for commercial fishing.  Economic and societal pressures on coastal communities and nations will be sought in relation with the ecosystem changes. To put the present day in a longer perspective, the conference will include a session on the paleoecology of people in Subarctic and Arctic regions that were forced to adjust to the changing temperature and sea-ice conditions in the past.


During the last decade or more there has been a rapid increase in the air and sea temperatures in the Arctic and a corresponding decline in summer sea-ice cover in the Arctic Ocean, including changes in the timing of ice retreat in the spring and the ice formation in the fall as well as a decrease in the thickness and the loss of multiyear ice.  In the Subarctic seas there have also been large changes in sea temperatures but with spatial variability.  For example, generally warm conditions have been observed in the Nordic Seas of the North Atlantic while in the Bering Sea temperature conditions have varied between warm and cold periods with corresponding decreases and increases in winter sea-ice cover, respectively. These changes in the water and ice properties have resulted in changes in the biogeochemistry and ecology of these regions including expansion northward of many species of plankton and fish as well as increased ocean acidification.  Growth rates, recruitment levels and phenology are also changing resulting in increased abundances of some species.  The distributional and abundance changes in fish populations are resulting in changes in fisheries as in some areas invasive species have resulted in the development of new fisheries while the loss of traditional fish populations have caused those fisheries to disappear.  This has resulted in difficulties with fisheries management based on historical fishing rights, e.g. Atlantic mackerel in the North Atlantic. In light of these continuing changes, ESSAS, with the co-sponsorship of ICES and PICES, is holding its third Open Science Meeting to further document such changes, discuss the operative mechanisms, and explore their impacts, both in the present and the future. 


The following four workshops will be held on Sunday, 11 June. These are open to all and abstract submissions will be accepted for oral presentation or posters.  As some of the workshops have limited time for oral presentations, those not offered a talk may be required to submit their presentation as a poster.

WKS1: Paleoecology of Subarctic and Arctic Seas Planning Workshop
Convenors: Ben Fitzhugh, U. of Washington, USA,
Lester Lembke-Jene, AWI, Germany,

The ESSAS Subarctic Seas (PESAS) Working Group has been conducting research to better understand the patterns and processes of subarctic marine paleoecology and the evolution of human-ecological dynamics from the Pleistocene to the near present. It has been focusing on four time intervals: 1)    the Deglacial (18,000 to 10,000 years before present [BP]); 2) the early to late Holocene (ca. 9000 to 3000 BP); 3) the late Holocene (3000-500 BP); and 4) the growth of subarctic commercial fisheries (500 BP-present). A primary objective of PESAS has been to create a collaborative framework for such investigations and to bring available data together to frame hypotheses and develop understandings about these relationships between humans and marine ecology at broad spatial and temporal scales. One of its main goals is to produce a synthesis volume on the paleoecology of subarctic marine systems and its influence on humans over the four selected time intervals and across the North Atlantic, the North Pacific and the Arctic. The workshop aims to lay out a concrete framework for content, authorship, and organization of a publication proposal and subsequent volume.  In addition, the workshop will identify concrete targets for the next three years of PESAS including developing possible new interdisciplinary projects.

WKS2: Climate change impacts on nearshore fish habitats in the Arctic
Convenors: Benjamin J. Laurel, NOAA-AFSC,
Ron Heintz, NOAA-AFSC,
Trond Kristiansen, NIVA,
Alexei Pinchuk, UAF-CFOS,

The purpose of this full-day workshop is to provide understanding on the current and future role of Arctic nearshore habitats for resident marine fish species.  It will:  
1)  Identify overlooked biological and time series data in the Arctic nearshore.
2)  Review and synthesize key physical processes and habitat features (e.g., ice retreat, salinity, turbidity, nutrient input, temperature, wind) that influence Arctic nearshore fish assemblages.  How will these habitat features change with ice retreat?
3)  Compare nearshore processes of Atlantic- and Pacific-Arctic systems with ecophysiological considerations of local taxa.
4)  Assess the degree to which impacts in the Arctic nearshore habitats will impact more broadly to the offshore.

The focus will be on gadids because of their ecological importance and broad distribution in the Atlantic, Pacific and Arctic.  Geographically, we are interested in the nearshore regions of the Newfoundland/Labrador Shelf, the Alaskan Chukchi and Beaufort seas, Norwegian/Barents seas and Svalbard.  The workshop will examine: 1) physical habitat and forecasting, 2) functional significance of habitat to resident Arctic species, and 3) time series analyses on available regional datasets. The workshop will evaluate limitations, develop approaches and analyze coastal time series for the purposes of understanding how climate will impact Arctic marine ecosystems by way of alterations on ecologically important fish habitat.  Workshop presentations should focus on nearshore Arctic regions but laboratory and modeling studies will be encouraged as will time series data on related species from marginal regions.  Participants are particularly encouraged to attend if they represent regional expertise with data access to physical and biological relevant data.  

WKS3: Using natural analogues to investigate the effects of climate change and ocean acidification on northern ecosystems
Convenors:    Samuel Rastrick, IMR, Norway,
Tina Kutti, IMR, Norway,
Melissa Chierici, IMR, Norway,
Marco Milazzo, U. of Palermo, Italy,
Jason Hall-Spencer, U. of Plymouth, UK,
Agneta Fransson, NPI, Norway,

This half-day workshop will investigate the effects of climate change and OA in Subarctic and Arctic ecosystems by bring together international experts with experience in monitoring carbonate chemistry across spatial and temporal gradients at high latitudes, using natural analogues to assess the effects of predicted OA at different levels of biological organisation and the effects of elevated pCO2 and low carbonate saturation on high latitude species. The primary objectives of the workshop will be to:
1) Document the importance of using natural analogues to investigate the effects of climate change and OA in subarctic and arctic ecosystems, and how such frameworks may be developed in the future.
2) Identify suitable natural analogue sites for future research into climate change and OA in the Subarctic and Arctic waters of the Atlantic, Pacific and Polar Oceans.
3) Form a strong cross disciplinary group of experienced researchers to support future applications for funding work on this topic.
The workshop will consist of some initial presentations and then discussions working towards a manuscript related to objective 1 above.  In addition, a report on the results of the discussions on objectives 2 and 3 will be produced.

WKS4: Arctic and sub-Arctic climate change impacts: an transdisciplinary perspective
Convenors: A. Sofia A. Ferreira, U. Washington, USA,
Giovanni Romagnoni, CEES, U. Oslo, Norway,
Alexandros Kokkalis, DTU Aqua, Denmark,
Marko Lindroos, U. Helsinki, Finland,

The main purpose of this workshop is to determine how well linked (or not) the North Atlantic and the North Pacific are in terms of the effects of climate change on marine ecosystems, the challenges for society, and the adaptation strategies that are in place or required. The aim is to assess regional specificities and global patterns of potential challenges to the ecosystems and the socioeconomic systems relying on them, and to investigate how different nations and regions are approaching these future challenges. We will use an international fisheries agreement as a case study, but will search for other relevant examples to discuss during the workshop. In particular, our objectives are to: 1) to understand geographic patterns of challenges and threats due to climate change and 2) investigate the role of transdisciplinary research applications in management.  The tentative programme includes presentation of the workshop objectives by the convenors followed by the formation of 2 breakout groups to address the above objectives (one for each objective) and towards the end of the day the two groups reconvening in plenary to plan collaborations working towards one or two review/opinion papers and the development of potential new transdisciplinary projects involving applications to management.

Scientific Program

The following are the list of theme sessions, their co-chairs, the keynote speakers and a brief description of the sessions.

Co-Chairs: Ben Fitzhugh (USA),; Lester Lembke-Jene (Germany),
Keynote Speaker: Dr. Poul Holm (Ireland), Dr. Ekaterina Gorlova (Russia)
This session spans paleoclimatic—paleoceanographic-paleoecological-archaeological/human history dimensions of subarctic and arctic marine ecosystems. It seeks presentations on collaborative, integrative and synthetic work that explores systemic linkages between climate change, ecological change and human/societal change. This includes changes associated with the end of the last glaciation, as well as how humans have altered marine ecosystem from the earliest times up to recent centuries.

Advection and mixing and their ecosystem impacts

Co-Chairs: Naomi Harada (Japan),; Jinyoung Jung (Korea),; Paul Myers (Canada),
Keynote Speaker: Prof. Ichiro Yasuda (Japan), Dr. Ryan Rykaczewsk (USA)
Advection and mixing strongly influence marine ecosystems through their hydrography and nutrients to marine mammals and seabirds. They play important roles in terms of the distribution and concentrations of freshwater, sea ice, nutrients, primary production, zooplankton and some fish species. The effects on prey species in turn affect other fish species, marine mammals and seabirds, thereby influencing physical and ecological boundaries.

Timing/phenology and match-mismatch: are they critical issues?  

Co-Chairs: Franz Mueter (USA),; Jean-Eric Tremblay (Canada),
Keynote Speaker: Dr. Miriam Doyle (USA)
The match or mismatch between the timing of primary production, the emergence of zooplankton, hatching of fish ,larvae, and feeding migrations of upper trophic level predators has been invoked as a critical factor in determining successful feeding and the success or failure of year classes. What is the observational evidence for the importance of timing in Sub-Arctic and Arctic ecosystems? What are the mechanisms that lead to a match or mismatch between consumers and producers or between predators and their prey?

Future Subarctic and Arctic Marine Ecosystems under Climate Change

Co-Chairs: Olafur Astthorsson (Iceland),; Rubao Ji (USA),
Keynote Speaker: Dr. Rubao Ji (USA)
This session will focus on what will happen under future climate change in terms of the atmospheric climate, oceanography, ecology, fish, fisheries and human institutions in the Subarctic and Arctic regions. What is the uncertainty in these projections? What will help to improve the projections? Are past observations a key to the future?

Shifting habitats, persistent hot spots, and the distribution of benthos, plankton, fish, seabirds and marine mammals - observations, models, mechanisms and effects

Co-chairs: Ken Drinkwater (Norway),; Sei-Ichi Saitoh (Japan),
Keynote Speaker: Jackie Grebmeier (USA)
This session will focus on studies involving observations and/or models to explore mechanisms linking organisms to biophysical habitats and how their distributions will shift or persist in a changing climate. Which biophysical habitats will shift and which will persist in a changing climate? What are the effects on upper trophic level species? Are we seeing a borealization of the Arctic? What are the limits, if any, to this borealization? How will shifting fish populations affect the broader ecosystem, fisheries, management, and fishing communities? Are institutions prepared for shifting fish populations

Ocean Acidification

Co-chair: Kumiko Azetsu-Scott (Canada),; Melissa Chierici (Norway), Keynote Speakers: Peter Thor (Norway); Jessica Cross (USA); Agneta Fransson (Norway)
The formation and transport of corrosive waters in the Arctic–does it matter? Ocean acidification is thought to increase most in the cold regions of the ocean including the Sub-Arctic and Arctic. What do the observations tell us? What are the impacts of OA on Sub-Arctic and Arctic species and what effect will this have on their ecosystems?

Multiple Stressors  

Co-Chairs: Samuel Rastrick (Norway),;
Keynote Speakers: Howard Browman (Norway), Dr. Raymond Bannister (Norway) 
Arctic and Sub-Arctic ecosystems are being affected by a multitude of stressors, including climate change, ocean acidification, invasive species, fishing, oil and gas exploration and extraction, mineral extractions, transportation, etc. In this session, we seek papers that examine the combined effects of two or more stressors. We are particularly interested in talks that include stressors from both the natural ecosystem and socio-economic and management.

Science, Policy and Management  

Co-chairs: Alan Haynie (USA),; Alf Håkon Hoel (Norway),
Keynote Speakers: Dr. Richard Merrick (USA) Dr. Christine Brusendorf (ICES)
How can our science most effectively influence policy and management decisions? What do policy makers and managers require from scientists? How can we improve communications between scientists, resource users, and managers? This session will integrate experiences from social scientists, economists, natural scientists, and resource users and managers. Talks will focus on specific examples and examine the successes and challenges of different science-to-policy experiences.

General Open Session

Co-chairs: George Hunt (USA),; Padmini Dalpadado (Norway),, Yutaka Watanuki (Japan),
Keynote Speaker: Dr. Stein Kaartvedt (Norway)
This session will include contributed papers whose subject material cover topics of interest in the Subarctic and Arctic that do not fit within the topics of the other sessions.


Dr. Ken Drinkwater (Institute of Marine Research, Bergen Norway)
Dr. Franz Mueter (University of Alaska Fairbanks, Juneau, USA)
Dr. Sei-Ichi Saitoh (Hokkaido University, Sapporo, Japan)

Scientific Steering Committee:
Dr. Ólafur Ástþórsson (Marine Research Institute, Reykjavik, Iceland; ICES representative)
Dr. Andrey Dolgov (PINRO, Murmansk, Russia)
Dr. Naomi Harada (JAMSTEC, Yokosuka, Japan)
Dr. Alan Haynie (NOAA, Alaska Fisheries Science Center, Seattle, USA)
Dr. George Hunt, Jr. (University of Washington, Seattle, USA)
Dr. Shin-ichi Ito (University of Tokyo, Tokyo, Japan)
Dr. Gudrun Marteinsdottir (University of Reykjavik, Reykjavik, Iceland)
Dr. Sue Moore (NOAA, NMFS ST7, Seattle, USA)
Dr. Jean-Éric Tremblay (Laval University, Quebec City, Canada)
Dr. John Walsh (University of Alaska Fairbanks, USA)
Dr. Paul Wassmann (UiT, The Arctic University of Norway, Tromsø, Norway)
Dr. Jinping Zhao (Ocean University of China, Qingdao, China)

Local Organizing Committee
Dr. Benjamin Planque (Institute of Marine Research)
Dr. Bodil Bluhm (University of Tromsø)
Dr. Maria Fossheim (Institute of Marine Research)
Dr. Haakon Hop (Norwegian Polar Institute)
Ms. Vera Lund (Institute of Marine Research)
Dr. Paul Renaud (AkvaPlan Niva)

Registration and Abstract Submissions
Ms. Lisa Maddison (IMBER International Project Office, Bergen)

Ms. Kjersti Turøy (Institute of Marine Research, Bergen)

Important Dates

06 Feb 2017: Abstracts are closed
15 Feb 2017: Notification of abstract acceptance
1 Mar 2017: Notification of financial support requests
15 Mar 2017: Deadline for early fee payment
11 Jun 2017: Workshops
12-15 Jun 2017: Open Science Meeting

The conference dinner

The conference dinner will be held on Wednesday 14 June at the beautiful fishing town of Hella
Space is limited and only about 100 people can attend so to book a place, please send an email to
It will cost approximately 800 NOK, depending on numbers.

Venue and Accommodation

The meeting will take place at The Radisson Blu Hotel in Tromsø.
Address:    Sjogata 7
P.O. Box 928N-9259
Tromsø, Norway



Keynote Speakers

Keynote Speakers


Our Sponsors