Friday, 21 November 2014

Researchers Crack Sea Ice to Expose Arctic Food Web (VIDEO)

Charlie Heck, multimedia news editor at the U.S. National Science Foundation, contributed this article to Live Science's Expert Voices: Op-Ed & Insights.

Traveling to a town near the top of the Earth, a team of scientists is studying a creature at the bottom of the marine food chain — microscopic algae. In Barrow, Alaska, the marine ecologists are traveling across sea ice, a seemingly desolate landscape that teams with marine life. With support from the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF), Craig Aumack of Columbia University and his collaborators have come to the ice to investigate how the algae connects to the marine ecosystem, and which marine organisms depend on it.

Some algae live dormant in the ice all winter, bloom when the spring sunshine kick-starts a growth cycle, and, eventually, migrate down to the bottom of the ice and enter the water column where they provide a nutritious dietary food source to many marine organisms. Going forward, the changing climate could mean disruptions to that cycle.

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