Ecosystem Studies of Sub-Arctic Seas

ESSAS website

The idea for a Ecosystem Studies of Sub-Arctic Seas (ESSAS) programme was conceived at a workshop in Laguna Beach, California in September 2002 with the aim of identifying research priorities for a major research initiative in the Bering Sea, and to investigate the possibility of developing a series of comparative studies of the marine ecosystems of the sub-arctic seas.

The first planning workshop for the programme was held in Bergen, Norway in May 2003 to identify the most pressing questions concerning the impact of global change on the sub-arctic seas, and to suggest innovative approaches to improving our understanding and ability to manage these important regions during a period of rapid environmental change. A science plan and background to the climatology, physical oceanography and ecosystems of the sub-arctic seas were produced in 2005, prior to the first ESSAS symposium which was held in Victoria, Canada in May 2005, papers from which are due to be published in a special issue of Deep-Sea Research II shortly. Further workshops and an SSC meeting in St Petersburg in June 2006 led to the formation of three working groups:

  • Biophysical coupling WG - this working group aims to compare different subarctic ecosystems through annual workshop
  • Ecosystem modelling WG - this working group aims to develop modelling strategies for comparisons
  • Climage change WG - this working group aims to develop ecosystem scenarios under future climate change

Further workshops were held 4-8 June 2007 in Hakodate, Japan includining workshops on the role of sea-ice cover in marine ecosystems, an evaluations of future ESSAS climate scenarios, a discussion on modelling approaches within ESSAS and an SSC meeting.