Declining sea ice and warming temperatures are resulting in changes to vegetation in arctic coastal areas, according to new research.

© BJ Kirschhoffer/Polar Bears International

9/11/2013 4:56:41 PM

Warming Temperatures Alter Food Webs in Arctic

Warming temperatures, as a result of climate change, are altering food chains in the Arctic, according to research results published by two University of Alaska Fairbanks scientists in a recent edition of Science magazine.

The review examining how losses of northern sea ice affect surrounding areas was written by Uma Bhatt, an associate professor at UAF's Geophysical Institute, and Skip Walker, a professor at UAF's Institute of Arctic Biology.

The scientists looked at 10 years worth of data and research. Their findings show that sea ice loss is changing marine and terrestrial food chains.

Polar Bears International supporters know that sea ice is critical to polar bears—they not only need sea ice as a platform for hunting seals, but also to grow the food that the seals' prey eats.  And melting sea ice means more time on land, where there isn't anything for a blubber-hungry polar bear to eat. 

Sea ice loss also means a loss of sea ice algae, the underpinning of the marine food web, the UAF scientists said. Larger plankton is thriving, replacing smaller but more nutrient-dense plankton, and what that means is not yet understood, they said.

They do know that some animals and plants will become more isolated as sea ice melts. In the case of the farthest north and coldest sections of the Arctic, entire biomes may be lost.

Read the original article: Warming Arctic: A food chain in flux from polar bears up top to plankton on bottom 

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