Name your favourite Arctic animal before they disappear. A $40m scientific study shows that there are significant challenges being placed on the Arctic’s marine life due to climate change. The all-season study concludes that it is global warming and its effect on weather and energy dynamics that is linked to the reduction of marine species in the Arctic.
The study also shows that climate change is resulting in the increased distribution through the Arctic food chain of contaminants, such as methylmercury.
The $40-million study, which was conducted by 10 scientific teams from 27 countries, spent 2007-2008 studying open water along what are called flaw leads, or breaks in multi-year ice, where they studied how global warming is changing the entire marine ecosystem in the Arctic.
“The Arctic Ocean is definitely changing on a whole lot of different fronts,” said Prof. David Barber, of the University of Manitoba.
The study was released Tuesday at the Polar Year conference in Montreal. The data was gathered aboard the research icebreaker Amundsen in the Amundsen Gulf south of Banks Island in the eastern Beaufort Sea.
Scientists explained that with ice coverage and ice thickness reaching record lows over the last decade, the energy dynamics of the Arctic Ocean are changing with profound effects on weather, ocean currents and plant and animal life.
With more solar energy piercing the open waters, ice melt also can affect the carbon exchange between the ocean and the atmosphere. With longer and warmer summers, more carbon dioxide can escape into the atmosphere while in the winter the colder open water can absorb more CO2. This carbon then can drop with the heavier water to the bottom of the sea and remain there for years.
Source: Montreal Gazette