EAST project: plans and outreach

Vera.Fofonova [ at ] awi.de


The East Siberian Arctic Shelf (ESAS), consisting of the Laptev, East Siberian and Chukchi Seas, represents the world’s shallowest and broadest shelf region stretching more than 2500 km long, with an average depth of about 30−40 m and extending up to 800 km from the shoreline. It occupies a little more than 20% of the total area covered by the Arctic Ocean (AO) and represents a critical physical, biogeochemical and ecological gateway for exchange between the AO and the terrestrial environment. Its complex oceanographic and biogeochemical regime is influenced by both seawater of Pacific and Atlantic origins. The importance and role of the ESAS in the rapidly changing Arctic climate system, environment and economic activities can hardly be overstated. Because of changing climate, there is an increasing urgency and growing need for better quality measurements and models of circulation and dynamics on the shelf to answer major present and future scientific, ecosystem and societal issues. We must underline the importance of the ESAS investigation and necessity to consider this area in conjunction with the AO and Arctic Coast. It is a complex task as soon as the ESAS represents a large area with a wide border with AO and variety of regimes and there is still substantial uncertainty in their role and feedbacks with the wider climate system. In this sense numerical simulations are a powerful instrument. Making progress on this largely depends on the accurate representation of the physical environment in a coupled coastal-open ocean system. In its turn an accurate model representation of the physical processes is a pre-request for plausible simulation of the biogeochemical cycles and ecosystem dynamics. However, studying of the coupled system still represents a great scientific challenge. For this reason the majority of scientific research has been mainly studying the communication and responses within smaller subsets of the ESAS-open ocean system. The main goal of the project is to answer questions on the ESAS observed and future trends and dynamic features across time and space scales, tracing water masses, sea ice, biogeochemical and ecological signals from the Estuaries/coastal zone to the AO/Global Ocean through the ESAS in both upscaling and downscaling directions. To reach mention goal we will develop a multi-scale modeling platform and apply it on the background of an extensive base of natural observations and knowledge about the terrestrial impact to the ESAS. The platform will bring understanding of the multi-scale processes confluence under the climate change pressure to a new level. It will represent a virtual lab, where different scenarios about changes on the shelf dynamics can be consistently addressed to a larger scale and vice versa. The platform will constitute an essential foundation for any coastal/shelf region studies in need of accurately accounting for the global signal, and for global studies to trace the fate of high quality coastal signal.​ Proposed modelling platform can support the study dedicated to climate adaptation and mitigation in coastal zones. Its application to the ESAS area has large social and economical weight, in particular it can be used for: Effective sea ice predictions; Ship navigation; Tracing pollution; Forecasting of natural hazards; Fisheries management.

Item Type
Conference (Invited talk)
Primary Division
Primary Topic
Peer revision
Not peer-reviewed
Publication Status
Event Details
CACOON meeting, 16 Jan 2020 - 17 Jan 2020, AWI Potsdam.
Eprint ID
Cite as
Fofonova, V. and Wiltshire, K. H. (2020): EAST project: plans and outreach , CACOON meeting, AWI Potsdam, 16 January 2020 - 17 January 2020 .


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