Kelps are large brown seaweeds that form habitats along many Arctic coasts. They have been recorded throughout the Canadian Arctic, yet we know little of these habitats. Research to date suggest that a warmer Arctic with less sea ice may increase the extent of kelp by providing extended periods of light and warmer waters for growth. However, melting sea ice and permafrost may offset this benefit by freshening and increasing water color and turbidity in coastal areas.
This project will combine coastal surveys, scientific dive experiments, laboratory tests, community meetings, remote sensing, research cruises, and modelling approaches to map kelp forests in the Arctic, assess their importance for coastal ecosystems and coastal societies, and predict climate-driven impacts on them. Knowledge on Arctic kelp forests may help northern communities and societies anticipate and prepare for changes in the coastal zone and possibly even benefit from these new ecosystems.