Melting Sea Ice Boosting Life In Arctic Waters?

Studies have established that climate fluctuations impact plant and animal life adversely. However, a new study suggests that global warming could possibly be boosting life in the Arctic waters.

A study conducted by researchers at University of Southern Denmark, or SDU, states that the warm weather prevailing in the Arctic Polar ice caps is boosting the life in many of Arctic's "melt ponds."

While some species all over the world are under strain due to global warming, Arctic wildlife is reportedly flourishing due to the rise in temperature.

Global Warming Boosts Algae Bloom In The Arctic

The thinning of ice in the Arctic is finally allowing more sunlight to reach the subsurface of the water, boosting algae bloom in the otherwise inhospitable region of the North Pole.

"The melt ponds can form their own little ecosystem. When all the sea ice melts during the summer, algae and other organisms from melt ponds are released into the surrounding seawater," explained Heidi Louise Sørensen, lead author of this study. "Some of this food is immediately ingested by creatures living high up in the water column. Other food sinks to the bottom and gets eaten by seabed dwellers."

SDU's Ronnie Glud and Bo Thamdrup, as well as Aarhus University's Søren Rysgaard and Erik Jeppesen helped Sørensen conduct the study.

The researchers noted that the growth of sub-ice phytoplankton can now provide more food to an array of marine creatures, which dwell in the hostile area of North Pole.

How Was The Study Conducted?

To come to this conclusion, researchers selected six melt ponds located in Yond-Sound in North-Eastern Greenland. Out of these six melt ponds, four were artificially created and two occurred naturally.

The artificial melt ponds were categorized as the control ponds and the researchers added nitrogen and phosphorous in these ponds, using different permutations and combinations. Phosphorous and nitrogen were used as these nutrients are frequently deployed to fertilize gardens.

For a span of 13 days Sørensen and her colleagues tested the melt pond waters under many different parameters, which included the chlorophyll content. Chlorophyll basically enables algae to absorb the energy from light sources.

The researchers noticed that chlorophyll levels in the control ponds were 2 to 10 times higher than the naturally occurring melting ponds, and triggered a high rate of algae bloom.

Algae Bloom Will Help Arctic Wildlife's Survival?

The researchers state that the algae bloom will help the life in the region, in all food chains.

The copepods and krill, which are on the upper part of the water column, will survive on these nutrient-rich bacteria and algae in the melt ponds. These krill are then consumed by an array of larger animals, from amphipods to fish to whales and seals.

Moreover, animals and plants such as brittle stars and sea cucumbers, which dwell on the sea bed, will also benefit from the growth of the algae.

The study has been published in journal Polar Biology on March 1.

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