The overarching science issues driving ASOF are:
- What are the fluxes of mass, heat, liquid freshwater and ice from the Arctic Ocean into the subpolar North Atlantic?
- What are the terms in the budgets of mass, heat, liquid freshwater and ice for the Arctic and subpolar North Atlantic Oceans, and how are they changing with time?
This issue requires a synthesis of the existing timeseries of flux measurements in a coherent way across the ASOF domain. Key issues that arise are:
- How accurately can the mass, heat and freshwater budgets be closed?
- How well can we estimate storage anomalies?
- What is the coherence among the different timeseries?
- How are anomalies (in freshwater particularly) propagating through the system?
- What is the predictability of these anomalies?
- How will anticipated changes in Arctic freshwater efflux impact the MOC?
- What impacts do the changing Arctic and subarctic physical environment have on ecosystems?
Many opportunities exist to engage ecosystem programs. For example:
- Trans-Arctic plankton invasions, such as by Neodenticula Seminae, have been seen in recent years.
- Secular trends exist in nutrient concentrations, and seawater pH.
- Secular trends are seen in plankton species, abundance, bloom dynamics, which all have links to physical trends too.
ASOF II is seeking interaction and collaboration with ocean ecosystem and biology programs.
- How can ocean circulation, sea ice, and climate models be improved through issues 1 and 2, and how can these models help address them?
Specific topics to address are:
- Validation & improvement of Arctic Ocean models.
- Investigation of variability and identification of mechanisms.
ASOF recognizes that the scientific questions it addresses are of decadal scale and require stamina to maintain the observing array that exceeds the regular funding cycles and attention spans of research agencies. This statement was true in 2000 when ASOF began, and remains true today. On-going synthesis of the physical measurements across the whole ASOF region is an essential component of this activity. Science issues 1 and 2 deal with this issue.
ASOF also recognizes that applying the knowledge that already exists, and is still accumulating, is critical to leverage the success of the initial phase and broaden the scope of the program. Engaging climate dynamicists, high-latitude ecosystems researchers, and high-latitude modelers in science issues 3-5 will deliver this goal of applying the discoveries of the ASOF program. These syntheses are impossible without international coordination.