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

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

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


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.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)53-69
Number of pages17
JournalAMBIO: A Journal of the Human Environment
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2017


We would like to acknowledge the Nordic Top Level Research Initiative (TRI) and the Nordic Centre of Excellence DEFROST for supporting this research. SR would like to thank the Canada Excellent Research Chair program and RNG was supported by the Danish National Research Council (FNU; 0602-02276B) and the European Research Council (ERC) under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme (Grant agreement No 669947; HADES-ERC).

FundersFunder number
Danish National Research Council
Nordic Centre of Excellence DEFROST
Natur og Univers, Det Frie Forskningsråd0602-02276B
Horizon 2020 Framework Programme669947
European Research Council


    • Arctic
    • Carbon cycle
    • Ocean
    • Permafrost
    • Sea ice
    • Tundra


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