General features of the arctic relevant to climate change in freshwater ecosystems. Academic Article uri icon


  • Large variations exist in the size, abundance and biota of the two principal categories of freshwater ecosystems, lotic (flowing water; e.g., rivers, streams, deltas and estuaries) and lentic (standing water; lakes, ponds and wetlands) found across the circumpolar Arctic. Arctic climate, many components of which exhibit strong variations along latitudinal gradients, directly affects a range of physical, chemical and biological processes in these aquatic systems. Furthermore, arctic climate creates additional indirect ecological effects through the control of terrestrial hydrologic systems and processes, particularly those associated with cryospheric components such as permafrost, freshwater ice and snow accumulation/ablation. The ecological structure and function of arctic freshwater systems are also controlled by external processes and conditions, particularly those in the headwaters of the major arctic rivers and in the adjacent marine environment. The movement of physical, chemical and biotic components through the interlinked lentic and lotic freshwater systems are major determinants of arctic freshwater ecology.

publication date

  • November 2006

published in