Why The Arctic Is Turning Green At An Alarming Rate?

Posted: Mar 30 2017, 6:14am CDT | by , Updated: Mar 30 2017, 1:45pm CDT, in News | Latest Science News

Why the Arctic ts Turning Green at an Alarming Rate?
Melt ponds darken the surface of thinning Arctic sea ice, creating conditions friendly to algae blooms under the ice. Image Credit: NASA
  • Arctic Ice is turning Green at a Rapid Rate and this is a Worrisome Trend

The Arctic ice is turning the color green at a rapid rate and this is quite a worrisome trend. But scientists create new model that solves the mystery of the Arctic's green ice.

Six years ago, the experts noticed a strange phenomenon going on around the Arctic. A huge overgrowth of phytoplankton was affixed to the Arctic sea ice.

The only anomaly was that the weather conditions were too dark and gloomy for such a green scum of sorts to form on the surface of the sea ice. Since photosynthesis couldn’t occur under such circumstances, the way this phytoplankton bloom was thriving remained a mystery.

Via math models, the scientists managed to find that the thinning Arctic sea ice could be the reason behind this blooming phytoplankton layer. Future blooms of phytoplankton could spell the disturbing of the ecological balance in the Arctic’s food webs.

This was indeed cause for concern. Phytoplankton are the main phenomenon behind the Arctic’s food webs. Every summer, sunlight comes pouring into this remote region. A massive amount of phytoplankton are formed in this manner.

These phytoplankton invite fish which feed upon them. The fish in turn attract larger marine creatures which form a part of the food web in this area of the world.

These phytoplankton ought not to have been thriving under the sea ice. That is because normally the sea ice reflects the sunlight back into the atmosphere. Yet over the past generation or so, Arctic ice has gotten not only thinner but darker as well.

This is due to global warming. The sunlight thus penetrates all the way to the depths of the seawater beneath the ice. Thus melt ponds have formed that have decreased the reflectivity of the ice. Therefore the ice that is thin to begin with is getting even more thinner. This is a clear sign of trouble ahead.

The transmission of sunlight is the issue here. The thickness of the ice has been decreasing and the melt pond percentage has been increasing. Now the phytoplankton blooms are growing like never before.

While the melt ponds play their role in all this, it is the thinness of the ice that especially leads to a massive formation of phytoplankton blooms. Two decades ago, 3% to 4% of the sea ice was thin enough for phytoplankton blooms to thrive in the region.

Today this figure has increased to a whopping 30%. The ecology of the region is about to change. Many fauna that live in the area and need oxygen to survive will not be gaining access to it on a regular basis.

The findings of this research are described in the journal Science Advances.

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The Author

<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/20" rel="author">Sumayah Aamir</a>
Sumayah Aamir (Google+) has deep experience in analyzing the latest trends.




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