Climate change may have a complex set of influences on both the flux and fate of contaminants in the Barents Sea. Increasing temperatures, changing wind systems and ocean currents, changing precipitation regime, melting sea ice, glaciers, ice-caps, and thawing permafrost, will all affect the transport, deposition, remobilization, and flux of contaminants between air and water, as well as environmental stability, ecosystem structure, bioavailability, bioaccumulation, bio-magnification, transformation, degradation, and toxicity (Macdonald et al., 2005; Noyes et al., 2009; UNEP/AMAP, 2011; Kallenborn et al., 2012; Moe et al., 2013; Stahl et al., 2013).
Along with climate change, anthropogenic emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) are causing acidification of the world oceans, because CO2 reacts with seawater to form carbonic acid. Due to the increased atmospheric CO2 concentration, the average pH-value of the surface waters of the global oceans has decreased from pH 8.2 to pH 8.1 since the onset of industrial revolution. This ocean acidification is extremely rapid in northern sea areas compared to other global oceans. It is expected that organisms living at high latitudes will be among the first affected.
Over the last 50 years, air temperatures have increased almost twice as fast in the Arctic than the global average. Models predict that air temperatures will continue to increase considerably, and summer sea ice in the Arctic is likely to disappear before the middle of this century and winter sea ice by the end of the current century (IPCC, 2013). Because of the complex dynamics of the Barents Sea ecosystem, and because the effects of climate change will interact with other major factors, such as