The changing biology of the Arctic
11 May 2009
The polar regions are changing faster than anywhere else on Earth. Scientists now predict the Arctic will be ice-free over the summer in just 10 or 20 years' time. The question is, how will this affect the region's biology?
All life in the Arctic Ocean is intimately linked to sea-ice cover, which means that any changes will inevitably affect living things in the area.
In 2007 scientists from the Sir Alister Hardy Foundation for Ocean Science (SAHFOS) reported that for the first time in 800,000 years a species of phytoplankton commonly found in the Pacific Ocean made its way to the north Atlantic. It's likely the species found a route through the ice-free section of the Arctic Ocean during the summer.
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Arctic researchers, Dr Ray Leakey and Dr Jeremy Wilkinson from the Scottish Association for Marine Science, are busy collecting data from the Arctic to build up a clearer picture of how changes in sea ice cover are likely to affect the biology of the area.
Science writer and broadcaster Richard Hollingham visits them to find out more.
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