The Changing Arctic Transpolar System

The Changing Arctic Transpolar System
General information
With the joint Russian-German research project „CATS – The Changing Arctic Transpolar System“, a consortium of 10 research institutions and universities in Russia and Germany aims to assess how climate change will affect the highly sensitive Arctic environment and to what extent these changes may impact the climate in Europe. The main research region is the western Laptev Sea shelf and continental slope, Vilkitsky Strait and Cape Baranov (Severnaya Zemlya), located in the Russian EEZ. This topographically complex region features strong polynyas and sea-ice formation, and a variety of shelf processes that may impact the circulation and water masses of the Arctic Boundary Current near the beginning of the Transpolar Drift system. The Arctic Boundary Current transports a large amount of heat along the continental slope, which could potentially melt the entire Arctic sea-ice cover if released to the surface. CATS will generate new sea-ice, ocean, and atmosphere datasets based on satellites, ship-board expeditions and autonomous sampling techniques, by use of, for instance, year-round multidisciplinary ocean observatories that will be operated in the central and northwestern Laptev Sea, or by Cape Baranov-based atmospheric boundary layer measurements. Ship-based oceanographic and biogeochemical surveys will be carried out. The study will focus on relevant subjects as shelf processes and their impact on the Arctic Boundary Current, sea-ice retreat, changes of atmosphere/sea-ice/ocean interactions, biogeochemical cycles, as well as on ecological consequences of climate change by use of field observations, multi-sensor satellite remote sensing, and coupled atmosphere/sea-ice/ocean models. Furthermore, the long-term variability of the Arctic transpolar system will be assessed using historical data for statistical models (1950s to present). Sediment cores from the western Laptev Sea and Vilkitsky Strait will be used to investigate the pre-industrial environment in a region that is critical for understanding the impact of global warming on the Arctic sea ice, ocean, and climate system.
March, 2017
February, 2020
Funding (total)
Funding (GEOMAR)
Funding body / Programme
    BMBF / WTZ Russland Other / Ministry of Education and Science of the Russian Federation
Helmholtz-Zentrum für Ozeanforschung Kiel (GEOMAR), Germany