Arctic Sea Ice Associated Biodiversity
Sea ice habitat in Arctic Ocean / Photo: Willem Tims, shutterstockSea ice is a unique ecosystem in the Arctic, providing habitat to specialized ice-associated species, including microorganisms, fish, birds, and marine mammals. Many species in the marine and terrestrial environment, as well as human societies and economies are connected to sea ice associated species.
Some examples of sea ice species are:
- ice algae,
- Arctic cod,
- ivory gull,
- polar bear,
- walrus and
- ringed seal
However, sea ice is undergoing dramatic changes. It is shrinking in size and becoming thinner, resulting in changes in density and concentration. The timing and distribution of ice is changing as well.
Changes in sea ice have implications on:
- Sea ice associated seal / Photo: Irina Igumnovaphysical composition and hydrology of sea ice
- species, habitats and ecosystems,
- seasonal changes in primary producers,
- redistribution of species- northward shift, replacement by generalist species
- ice entrapment
- implications on migratory species
- species life history mismatches
- human safety and security
- industry, fisheries and shipping
- sea levels
- harvesting opportunities
- UV radiation
- coastal erosion
- conservation planning
CAFF´s Arctic Sea Ice Associated Biodiversity Assessment
Observing sea ice cover of the Arctic Ocean / Photo: Shutterstock, George Burba
The Arctic Sea Ice Associated Biodiversity Assessment seeks to summarize the current status and trends of sea ice-associated biodiversity, including direct effects on marine species and indirect effects on terrestrial species.
The project will:
- discuss the expected reaction of species to lower occurrences of ice,
- reflect on the effects low ice and its impact on species biodiversity to northern peoples, and
- recommend actions that might mitigate these changes.
Learn more about the Arctic Sea Ice Biodiversity Project, latest findings and developments and recent publications.