PerspectiveEcology

Climate change tweaks Arctic marine ecosystems

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Science  10 Jul 2020:
Vol. 369, Issue 6500, pp. 137-138
DOI: 10.1126/science.abd1231

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Summary

Icepack reduction enhances exposure of the fairly dark Arctic Ocean (AO) to sunlight, thus promoting microalgae biomass buildup and productivity of the marine ecosystem. This seemingly reasonable assertion is a matter of lively debate centered on the function and fate of the Arctic marine ecosystem under climate change pressure. A second paradigm postulates that additional inputs of nitrogen, which is chronically low over large stretches of the AO, would be required to enable the algae to take full advantage of greater availability of light. On page 198 of this issue, Lewis et al. (1) confirm the latter notion with observations of recent biomass buildup at the AO surface that is likely driven by hydrodynamical processes that replenish essential nitrogen fuel.

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