Project overview

Arctic coastal ecosystems are in transition, with multiple (often interrelated) stressors leading to substantial and long-term environmental change. Thawing permafrost, melting glaciers, changes in precipitation and runoff patterns and land-use changes related to increasing human activity in northern regions can lead to changes in the movement of water, nutrients, organic matter and contaminants across the land-ocean interface.

The TerrACE project focuses on generating quantitative information about terrestrial inputs to coastal waters in Svalbard, and how these inputs can affect the biogeochemistry, ecology and contamination of affected coastal ecosystems. In particular, TerrACE seeks to determine how terrestrial inputs can directly and indirectly affect concentrations of contaminants such as mercury and PCBs in coastal biota.

Using a combination of field-based and modelling approaches, the TerrACE project will provide information about:

  • Inputs of freshwater, sediments, nutrients, organic matter, and contaminants from land (and glaciers) to sea on Svalbard
  • Effects of these inputs on:
    • coastal water and sediment chemistry, and contamination of coastal waters with mercury and PCBs
    • pelagic and benthic community structure
    • the flow of energy and contaminants through coastal food webs
  • How future changes in terrestrial inputs will affect coastal biogeochemistry, ecology and contamination

This project aims to shed light on the complex interplay between terrestrial inputs to coastal waters and coastal biogeochemistry, ecology, and contaminant dynamics, and will provide new data and modelling tools for monitoring, management and protection of Arctic coastal ecosystems.