From Catchment 2 Coast

Integrating cross-ecosystem approaches into climate change research and ecosystem-based management for northern ecosystems.

Climate change is already affecting all ecosystems across the globe. This is resulting in increased (and more variable) temperature, changes in precipitation patterns, and an increased frequency of extreme climate events (e.g. floods, droughts, storms). Climate change impacts terrestrial, freshwater, coastal, and marine ecosystems simultaneously, and climate effects in one ecosystem may modify or enhance effects on adjacent ecosystems (cross-ecosystem impacts).


For example, changes in snow accumulation and winter thaw events on land are impacting the timing and magnitude of spring snowmelt floods along rivers and leading to increased runoff and floods during autumn and winter. As a consequence, the flow of carbon and nutrients from terrestrial to aquatic ecosystems is impacted and can be expected to have a broad range of effects on those ecosystems and the services they provide. Meanwhile, the current invasion of pink salmon in Norwegian rivers is also expected to lead to the delivery of marine nutrients to freshwater and terrestrial ecosystems, as these fish die after spawning, leaving their carcasses behind. Taken together, climate and land-use change, as well as other pressures such as changes in species distribution, will reshape cross-ecosystem linkages and change the flow of carbon, nutrients and organisms between terrestrial, freshwater, and marine ecosystems.

Although ecosystems are intrinsically linked, research and management of ecosystems, even for adjacent ecosystems, are traditionally highly disciplinary and compartmentalized and carried out independently of each other.

Close links

Given the close links between climate change and other global change impacts on terrestrial, freshwater, and marine coastal environments, there is an increasing need to take interdisciplinary cross-ecosystem approaches to studying the potential effects of global change on northern ecosystems. In C2C, we take an integrative ‘catchment to coast’ approach, bridging across ecosystem boundaries by assessing and quantifying cross-ecosystem linkages between terrestrial, freshwater, and coastal ecosystems. By focusing on linkages that are likely to be particularly climate-sensitive, and of high societal relevance, and by relying on close cooperation between natural and social scientists from several disciplines and relevant stakeholders, C2C aims to provide critical new knowledge related to:

  • Cross-ecosystem climate change impacts, and
  • How to best integrate relevant cross-ecosystem linkages into cohesive (cross-) ecosystem-based management approaches.

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