Predicting the Timing of Global Change

Björn Birnir, Alethea Barbaro, Samuel Subbey

Research output: Contribution to conferencePosterScientific


Because of its responsiveness to changes in the marine environment, it has been suggested by Rose in 2005 that the capelin, a small pelagic fish that is key to the ecology and fisheries of the North Atlantic, could be seen as a “canary in the coalmine” to detect signals of changes in the Arctic Ocean. We will describe the historical data that make possible a quantitative assessment of the geographical shift capelin migration-paths and spawning grounds undergo with increasing temperature, and the time it takes to make these shifts long-lasting. Then we introduce recent data that make these quantitativemeasurements more accurate and predictive. The Copernicus database of the European Union is used to examine the evolution of the returning Atlantic water (from Svalbard) that is forming a warmer and saltier boundary current under the colder and fresher East Greenland polar current. The returning Atlantic water has a temperature range (1 to 4 degrees Centigrade) suitable for feeding migrations of the capelin. This current is reaching further north along the coast of North East Greenland and we use Copernicus to simulate this evolution. We then validate the Copernicus data with measurements made in the fall expeditions of the Marine and Freshwater Research Institute, in Iceland, along the East Coast of Greenland. We identify trends in Copernicus data showing that the returning Atlantic water
boundary current may reach the major glacier streams draining a large portion of the Greenland Glacier, in the relatively near future, and use the capelin data to predict when this may happen.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages1
Publication statusPublished - 2022
EventAGU Fall Meeting 2022 - Chicago, United States
Duration: 12 Dec 202216 Dec 2022


ConferenceAGU Fall Meeting 2022
Abbreviated titleAGU 2022
Country/TerritoryUnited States


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