Global warming: Impacts from melting Arctic sea ice could also affect land-based ecosystems

Food web in Arctic biomes could be disrupted


Caribou are well-adapted to Arctic conditions, but it’s not clear how populations will respond to longer summers and less snow. Photo courtesy USGS.

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — Some of the marine effects of melting Arctic sea ice have already been documented, including changes in the timing of critical algae blooms sustain the ocean food chain.

But land and plant animals living in coastal zones are also likely to feel the impacts, a team of international scientists found after reviewing a big batch of studies on Arctic sea ice loss.

To try and understand those impacts, the scientists examined relationships among algae, plankton, whales, and terrestrial animals such as caribou, arctic foxes, and walrus; as well as the effects of human exploration of previously inaccessible parts of the region. Continue reading

Climate: German researchers document dramatic Arctic ecosystem changes linked with melting sea ice

On a voyage

On a voyage to the central Arctic Ocean, German researchers documented significant changes to marine ecosystems linked with melting Arctic sea ice. Photo courtesy Alfred Wegener Institute.

Massive algae blooms change composition of sea floor food chain

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — Arctic Ocean ecosystems are sure to change in as-yet unexpected ways as sea ice continues to shrink. This summer, German Polar researchers and microbiologists documented one of those changes, observing an unprecedented bloom of ice-loving algae on patches of thin summer ice.

The researchers hypothesized three years ago that ice algae could grow faster under the thinning sea ice of the Central Arctic. This past summer’s observations support the hypothesis: The ice algae were responsible for almost half of the primary production in the Central Arctic Basin. The paper is published in the journal Science.

“We were able to demonstrate for the first time that the warming and the associated physical changes in the Central Arctic cause fast reactions in the entire ecosystem down to the deep sea,” said Lead researcher Dr. Antje Boetius, of the Alfred Wegener Institute Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research. Continue reading


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