News FocusEcology

Arctic Life, on Thin Ice

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Science  19 Jan 2001:
Vol. 291, Issue 5503, pp. 424-425
DOI: 10.1126/science.291.5503.424

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Field observations from the Beaufort Sea to Hudson Bay are suggesting that the food web in the Arctic Ocean is ailing, causing many species to flounder as a result of the warming environment. Sea ice in the Arctic, on which arctic animals hunt, rest, and reproduce, now covers 15% less area than it did in 1978; it has thinned to an average of 1.8 meters, compared to 3.1 meters in the 1950s. If this trend continues, in 50 years the sea ice could disappear entirely during summers--possibly wiping out ice algae and most other organisms farther up the food chain.