Friday 30th September 2016                 Change text size:

‘New era’ in Arctic Ocean due to climate change

Arctic beaufort sea by NASA Goddard Space Flight Centre via Flickr

Climate change has led to the Arctic Ocean entering a “new era” that could have an impact on the region’s biodiversity, according to Norwegian scientists.

The Norwegian Polar Institute is researching how climate change is impacting the Arctic Ocean. In particular, they will look at how rising temperatures and melting ice is leading to less multi-year ice, which builds up over a number of years, and more young ice.

Speaking to the BBC, Jan-Gunnar Winther, said, “We have almost no data from the Arctic Ocean in winter – with few exceptions – so this information is very important to be able to understand the processes when the ice is freezing in early winters and we’ll also stay here when it melts in the summer.”

He added, “A new era has entered, we are going from old ice to young ice, thinner ice and the climate models used today have not captured this new regime or ice situation. So knowing how it is today can improve climate models which again improve the projection for global climate change.”

Winther went on to explain that the changes could have a profound affect on biodiversity, as ice that has built up over several years is more complex and typically has more animal life. The changes mean organisms that live within sea-ice will decline, impacting the Arctic food chain.

In 2013, researchers uncovered evidence that the Arctic is more exposed to manmade climate change that its southern counterpart, the Antarctic. The Arctic was found to be more acidic, warmer and having fewer nutrients, and as a result is more susceptible to climate variations.

Climate change is also having an impact on ecosystems and indigenous communities in the Arctic. A study found that excessive level of carbon dioxide is causing acidification in Arctic waters, with human activities to blame.

Photo: NASA Goddard Space Flight Centre via Flickr

Further reading:

Arctic Ocean more affected by global warming than Antarctic

Climate change records support predictions, say scientists

Shell seeks Arctic drilling licence extension

Climate change affecting deepest depths of Antarctic ocean, study finds

Arctic Ocean experiencing rapid acidification

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