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Melting Arctic Ice Marks Possible Sea Change in Marine Ecosystems

June 27, 2011 Comments off

livescience

Arctic Sea Ice Extent in 2010
Arctic sea ice reached an abnormal low in summer 2010. Declines like this have made it possible for a long-lost species of plankton to return to the North Atlantic.
CREDIT: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

A single-celled alga that went extinct in the North Atlantic Ocean about 800,000 years ago has returned after drifting from the Pacific through the Arctic thanks to melting polar ice. And while its appearance marks the first trans-Arctic migration in modern times, scientists say it signals something potentially bigger.

“It is an indicator of rapid change and what might come if the Arctic continues to melt,” said Chris Reid, a professor of oceanography at the Sir Alister Hardy Foundation for Ocean Science in the United Kingdom.

Arctic sea ice has been in decline for roughly three decades, and in several more recent summers, a passage has opened up between the Pacific and Atlantic. In as little as 30 years, Arctic summers are projected to Read more…