Biological Response to Recent Pacific Arctic Sea Ice Retreats

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Abstract

Although recent major changes in the physical domain of the Arctic region, such as extreme retreats of summer sea ice since 2007, are well documented, large uncertainties remain regarding responses in the biological domain. In the Pacific Arctic north of Bering Strait, reduction in sea ice extent has been seasonally asymmetric, with minimal changes until the end of June and delayed sea ice formation in late autumn. The effect of extreme ice retreats and seasonal asymmetry in sea ice loss on primary production is uncertain, with no clear shift over time (2003–2008) in satellite-derived chlorophyll concentrations. However, clear changes have occurred during summer in species ranges for zooplankton, bottom-dwelling organisms (benthos), and fish, as well as through the loss of sea ice as habitat and platform for marine mammals.

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