Product type: Science Brief
Categories: Sea Ice
- Brendan Kelly, International Arctic Research Center, University of Alaska Fairbanks
View or download: How is diminishing sea ice influencing marine ecosystems?
Diminishing sea ice, changing snow patterns, and increasing water temperatures threaten organisms—from algae to mammals—adapted to the sea ice ecosystem.
Why it matters
Globally, climate change is decreasing biodiversity (variety of life) with the potential to cause the sixth mass extinction in the Earth’s history. Arctic marine organisms are particularly vulnerable owing to their dependence on snow and ice and to the rapid pace of warming in the region — at least twice the global average. The well-being and economies of Arctic people are disrupted by changes in the Arctic marine ecosystems on which they depend for food and cultural affirmation. Changing ice conditions have already diminished indigenous hunters’ access to whales and walruses in Alaska.