As the Earth warms, sea ice declines. What happens to those animals who rely on the ice? Today’s oceanbites looks at one animal, the ringed seal, and how it may be affected by climate change!
A German research team tested out three devices for studying plankton in Arctic sea ice. These new methods might allow scientists to expand Arctic primary production studies and yield new insight into these important, understudied ecosystems.
In the sea ice battle between the North Pole and the South Pole, there is no winner in 2016, as sea ice cover is plummeting at both poles.
Greenland sharks can live to be over 400 years old. What can they tell us about ageing?
Everyone knows that polar bears have become the poster children for species threatened by climate change. And it’s for good reason that they are. Polar bears rely on sea ice for access to prey, finding mates, and creating dens. The persistence of the species depends on the state of sea-ice and more generally a healthy marine ecosystem in the Arctic. Unfortunately, the volume and extent of sea ice have been decreasing by 28% and 14% per decade. Is there a way for polar bears to adapt to the changing sea ice coverage in this sensitive habitat?
Paper: Claus W. Böning, et al. 2016. Emerging impact of Greenland meltwater on deepwater formation in the North Atlantic Ocean. Nature Geoscience, v.9: 523–527. We know the ocean is warming due to climate change. But did you also know there are huge paths that heat and energy takes through the global ocean? Although the ocean […]
The accumulation of toxic methylmercury is a serious threat to wildlife all over the world – especially top predators in polar regions, like polar bears. Young polar bears are often the most vulnerable to detrimental effects of pollutants. To learn more about levels of mercury in polar bear cubs and their mothers, scientists measured total mercury content in samples of hair from bears in Western Hudson Bay.
This week, I interviewed Joshua Jones, a Ph.D. student in biological oceanography at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography. The focus of his thesis research is marine mammals in the Arctic, their acoustic behavior and relationships with sea ice, and the effects of human activities on the underwater acoustic environment.
Capitol Hill Ocean Week (CHOW) is an annual event in Washington, D.C. that brings together a wide range of leaders a to discuss ocean science, policy and management. In case you missed it, read this for highlights!
Winter nights are very long and dark near the poles. How well can krill and other zooplankton see to get around?
Although we perceive the Arctic Ocean as being cold, it is a complicated system of temperatures, salinities, currents, and tides. The mixing of different ocean layers is key in warming the sea surface and providing a heat flux to the sea ice and atmosphere. A successful model of this system can help us better understand climate change in the Arctic. (Photo source: Canada’s Aquatic Environments)
Monomethylmercury (MMHg) is the most toxic form of mercury (Hg) to humans and wildlife. In the environment it concentrates (or “bioaccumulates”) in fish and shellfish. This increase in methylmercury concentration is further amplified up the food chain when, for example, people consume seafood. Mercury (Hg) found in Arctic marine mammals and fish are on the rise, raising concerns over the potential impacts on the environment and human health. However, our understanding of Arctic Hg biogeochemistry remains incomplete.
The glaciers are melting, sea level is rising; you’ve heard it all. But did you know that both of these events are increasing how much solar energy the earth is absorbing? Scientists study 30 years of data from the Arctic Ocean to quantify the role of diminishing sea ice in global warming.
The Arctic is warming at an unprecedented rate. New research shows that 50% of regional Arctic warming is due to natural climate variations, while the other 50% is due to human-induced climate change.
Speaking of climate change, you can easily picture a scene in which big ice sheets are melting and poor polar bears standing on the last piece of ice finding nowhere to live. To some extent this is true, since impact from global warming can be amplified in Arctic region.
Polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) are flame retardants found in the environment all over the globe, including the Arctic. Here, scientists explored the chances of PBDEs to bind to dissolved organic matter (DOM) in Arctic waters, which may affect their environmental availability, transport, and fate.
A polar bear’s appetite-satisfying success at the game hide-and-seek against ringed seal pups provided Canadian scientists with the opportunity to study changes in the spatial distribution of cryptic ringed seal pups in remote areas of the Beaufort Sea for seven breeding seasons.
Analyzing changes in gene transcription is a way to detect adverse effects in organisms before they are observable on the whole organism level. Here, a Canadian research group set out to determine whether beluga whales in the relatively pristine Beaufort Sea are accumulating toxic pollutants at levels that could affect the future health of the beluga population.
In our changing climate, the opening and closing of sea-ice is occurring more frequently, resulting from thick perennial Arctic sea ice shifting into thin seasonal ice sheets. This physical phenomenon can not only affect the energy balance in the Arctic, but can also have some influence on its atmospheric chemistry involving components such as mercury and ozone.