Sentinel responses of Arctic freshwater systems to climate: linkages, evidence, and a roadmap for future research

Jasmine E. Saros, Christopher D. Arp, Frédéric Bouchard, Jérôme Comte, Raoul-Marie Couture, Joshua Dean, Melissa J. Lafrenière, Sally MacIntyre, Suzanne McGowan, Milla Rautio, Clay Prater, Suzanne Tank, Michelle Walvoord, Kimberly Wickland, Dermot Antoniades, Paola Ayala-Borda, Joao Canário, Travis W. Drake, Diogo Folhas, Václava HazukováHenriikka Kivilä, Yohanna Klanten, Scott F. Lamoureux, Isabelle Laurion, Rachel M. Pilla, Jorien E. Vonk, Scott Zolkos, Warwick F. Vincent

Research output: Contribution to journal/periodicalArticleScientificpeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


While the sentinel nature of freshwater systems is now well-recognized, widespread integration of freshwater processes and patterns into our understanding of broader climate-driven Arctic terrestrial ecosystem change has been slow. We review the current understanding across Arctic freshwater systems of key sentinel responses to climate, which are attributes of these systems with demonstrated and sensitive responses to climate forcing. These include ice regimes, temperature and thermal structure, river baseflow, lake area and water level, permafrost-derived dissolved ions and nutrients, carbon mobilization (dissolved organic carbon, greenhouse gases, and radiocarbon), dissolved oxygen concentrations, lake trophic state, various aquatic organisms and their traits, and invasive species. For each sentinel, our objectives are to clarify linkages to climate, describe key insights already gained, and provide suggestions for future research based on current knowledge gaps. We suggest that tracking key responses in Arctic freshwater systems will expand understanding of the breadth and depth of climate-driven Arctic ecosystem changes, provide early indicators of looming, broader changes across the landscape, and improve protection of freshwater biodiversity and resources.
Original languageEnglish
JournalArctic Science
Early online date2022
Publication statusPublished - 03 Nov 2022

Research theme

  • Climate change


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