The Arctic holds the key to climate change

By Victoria Wagner Ross

The Examiner

In a place at the very top of the Northern Hemisphere scientists are collecting the most important samples. Arctic News yesterday reports how devastating the changes have been in the Arctic due to warming waters and ash blown from fires in Alaska and Canada. There is an urgent need to collect data on the changes in the Arctic.

Phytoplankton is the key element in the change of the planet as the specks of algae are emitted to the clouds from the basic phytoplankton. This is the key to affect climate swings and it is the key to feeding arctic inhabitants.

A few years ago Kevin Arrigo was in the Chukchi Sea for a research project funded by NASA. He states, “The deeper we went into the ice, the more phytoplankton there were. They reached amazing concentrations, to the point where it was the largest bloom anybody had ever seen anywhere in the world’s oceans. And it was less than three feet of ice.”

Why is this research so important? What is its connection to Climate Change on the planet? Bob Pickart, the lead physical oceanographer, for a project funded by the National Science Foundation in the Chukchi Sea this spring had the goal to gather hundreds of water samples. The samples contain the nutrients which spur the growth of the phytoplankton. Once it begins it goes up the food chain to all inhabitants in the Chukchi Sea and Arctic- both ocean and land. This is the basis for the ecosystem.

When phytoplankton has light, it can bloom and blooms were found three feet deep in the ice. Arrigo says that, “Productivity has been shifting earlier and earlier, because the ice is melting earlier and earlier. But now the bloom — the productivity — is not even waiting for the ice to melt.”

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