Increasing scientific knowledge indicates that changes to the Arctic freshwater systems have produced, and could produce even greater, changes to bio-geophysical and socio-economic systems of special importance to northern residents and also produce some extra-arctic effects that will have global consequences. It is for these reasons that three international organizations, the World Climate Research Programme’s Climate and Cryosphere Project (CliC), the International Arctic Science Committee (IASC), and the Arctic Council’s Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Program (AMAP), jointly called for the undertaking of an Arctic Freshwater Synthesis (AFS).
The AFS focused on assessing the various Arctic freshwater sources, fluxes, storage and effects, and has six major Components: Atmosphere, Oceans, Terrestrial Hydrology, Terrestrial Ecology, Resources and Modelling – each led by two well-renowned international convening authors. Additional authors were added to the component teams to ensure production of best state-of-the-science review manuscripts. The journal issue is comprised of these six Component review manuscripts bookended by a context-setting introduction and a final summary manuscript, which identifies key emerging issues.