ACME - Arctic Cryosphere Change and Coastal Marine Ecosystems



The Arctic cryosphere is changing rapidly due to increased runoff from land, changing sea-ice regime and the degradation of the circumpolar permafrost zone. Fjords and other nearshore areas form a productive zone that is vital for both Arctic biodiversity and local communities, rendering the understanding of Arctic coastal ecosystem change from a long-term perspective crucial.
The ACME working group provides a community platform to critically assess and refine available coastal marine proxies that can be used to reconstruct cryosphere changes and their multifaceted ecosystem impacts. ACME seeks to promote a leap forward in the accuracy of paleo reconstructions that are central for deciphering cryosphere-biosphere interactions in the Arctic region at relevant timescales.


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- To build a community-refined database that contains a network of proxies commonly used for sea ice, primary production, and meltwater runoff reconstructions in Arctic coastal and fjord environments.
- To facilitate knowledge transfer and collaborations between proxy specialists and the integration of the field and satellite monitoring community.
- To further critical methodological understanding and data handling skills of the next-generation of Arctic paleoceanographers and paleoenvironmental researchers.


Maija Heikkilä (Uni. of Helsinki, Finland)
Anna Pienkowski (Norwegian Polar Institute)
Sofia Ribeiro (Geological Survey of Denmark and Greenland)
Kaarina Weckström (Uni. of Helsinki, Finland)


Jul 2019
Jul 2023

The Arctic cryosphere is changing rapidly due to recent climate change. Accelerated melt of the Greenland ice sheet, increased runoff from Arctic glaciers, diminishing sea-ice extent and volume, and degradation of permafrost all have profound impacts on the coastal environments of the North.

acme web pienkowski

Fig. 1: Glaciated marine coastal environments are sentinels for climate change.
Image credit: Anna Pienkowski.

The fjords and other nearshore areas form a productive zone that is vital for both arctic species and local communities. Increased runoff from land (bringing sediments, nutrients, and organic matter to the ocean), and the declining sea-ice cover affect biogeochemical cycling, primary production, biodiversity and key ecosystem services.

A major challenge facing arctic marine sciences today is the paucity of reference ecological data from which to interpret these changes. Many marine proxies are currently used for reconstructing past ocean conditions (sea-ice concentrations, sea-surface temperatures, changes in ocean circulation), but the multi-faceted nature of coastal ecosystem change necessitates tighter cooperation between proxy specialists and critical analytical, numerical and ecological consideration.


The aim of this working group is to assess and refine available marine proxies that can be used to reconstruct past cryosphere changes and their ecosystem impacts. A particular focus will be placed on the techniques and the quality of data, and on the establishment of new protocols to enable more reliable reconstructions, through close dialogue with numerical ecologists and environmental monitoring community.

ACME will assemble researchers from across the global circumpolar community (including developing countries), and from a wide variety of backgrounds and career stages. In addition to concrete products, ACME will encourage participation of early career scientists and their training in order to advance future data integrity and quality control.

Learn more and participate

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