A synthesis of the arctic terrestrial and marine carbon cycles under pressure from a dwindling cryosphere

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


The current downturn of the arctic cryosphere, such as the strong loss of sea ice, melting of ice sheets and glaciers, and permafrost thaw, affects the marine and terrestrial carbon cycles in numerous interconnected ways. Nonetheless, processes in the ocean and on land have been too often considered in isolation while it has become increasingly clear that the two environments are strongly connected: Sea ice decline is one of the main causes of the rapid warming of the Arctic, and the flow of carbon from rivers into the Arctic Ocean affects marine processes and the air–sea exchange of CO2. This review, therefore, provides an overview of the current state of knowledge of the arctic terrestrial and marine carbon cycle, connections in between, and how this complex system is affected by climate change and a declining cryosphere. Ultimately, better knowledge of biogeochemical processes combined with improved model representations of ocean–land interactions are essential to accurately predict the development of arctic ecosystems and associated climate feedbacks.


  • Frans Jan W Parmentier
  • Torben R. Christensen
  • Søren Rysgaard
  • Jørgen Bendtsen
  • Ronnie N. Glud
  • Brent Else
  • Jacobus van Huissteden
  • Torsten Sachs
  • Jorien E Vonk
  • Mikael K. Sejr
External organisations
  • Norwegian Institute of Bioeconomy Research (Nibio)
  • Aarhus University
  • GFZ German Research Centre for Geosciences
  • Greenland Institute of Natural Resources
  • ClimateLab
  • University of Southern Denmark
  • Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam
  • University of Manitoba
  • University of Calgary
  • Chinese University of Hong Kong
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Climate Research


  • Arctic, Carbon cycle, Ocean, Permafrost, Sea ice, Tundra
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)53-69
Number of pages17
JournalAmbio: a Journal of Human Environment
Publication statusPublished - 2017 Feb 1
Publication categoryResearch