Arctic Ecosystem Under Threat

by Julian on March 13, 2018 - 6:12pm

In his article “How disappearing sea ice has put Arctic ecosystem under threat”, Robin McKie warns that over two million square kilometres of midwinter sea ice have melted in less than forty years. Global warming, caused by excessive carbon emissions from cars and factories, is the main cause of sea ice loss. This deterioration of the Arctic natural ecosystem is seriously endangering many species like seals, fish, polar bears, foxes, and wolves since according to the marine ecologist Tom Brown, the Arctic food chain depends on a stable sea ice platform to survive. For instance, polar bears need a platform of sea ice to hunt freely and communities of wolves and foxes also require that land of ice in order to interact with each other.  However, Tom Brown alerts that the erosion of sea ice is even more pernicious; it targets directly the root of the Arctic ecosystem. The surface of sea ice provides algae, the most primitive element of the food chain on which all other Arctic animals depend. Then, algae is eaten by zooplankton which are eaten by fish which are consumed by seals which are in turn eaten by polar bears. Brown logically concludes that if the amount of algae available is reduced by loss of sea ice, the whole food chain will suffer consequently. Besides the depletion of the Arctic food chain, many experts have examined how specific species are affected by global warming and the reduction of sea ice. For example, the narwhal usually hides in sea ice to avoid its predator, the killer whale. Having less protection, it could become endangered. Communities of wolves and foxes use the sea ice to crossbreed. Unfortunately, the decline of ice coverage can isolate them by  keeping them away from each other. The list of endangered species goes on, but the consensus from the experts is clear: sea ice loss is affecting Arctic animals on both land and in the ocean.

 

There is not much to say when we examine the disastrous impact of our gas emission on the Arctic wildlife. It always goes back to a decrease in consumption and an increase in environmental awareness (which this article does promote). McKie did not urge the government, communities, and individuals to take specific actions to prevent the melting of the Arctic ice banks. Instead, he chose to call on various experts to explain how multiples species are imperiled in the face of the degradation of their ecosystems. By doing so, he spread awareness to his readers self-absorbed by their own concerns. What a wise decision because “awareness is the greatest agent for change.”

 

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/mar/04/arctic-ecosystem-ice-disappear-ecosystem-polar-bears-fish

 

Comments

I choose this article summary in particular because of the topic on the melting of the arctic sea ice. It is my understanding that this event of all those ecosystems affected is the one that will have the biggest impact on a global scale. I agree with the opinion given in the summary regarding the plight of the polar bear and how the arctic food chain depends on a stable sea ice platform and how global warming is the primary reason for the sea ice loss. Based on the article I found by the climate institute “Climate Change Impact on Arctic Ecosystems” it concludes that “polar bear populations would decline without ice sheets to hunt and live on anywhere from 30-50% in the next 40 years (Ospina,2017,4)”. This in turn would send entire arctic food chains out of balance. The article confirms “that several months out of the year the temperature is 5 degrees Celsius higher than average of the past several decades (Ospina,2017,p.2)”.From an informative point of view my article confirms your findings but also discusses other gravely important issues caused by melting ice sheets such as follows. Melting ice is not just about bears and arctic wild life. The melting ice sheets means “new parasites and diseases can affect wild life populations because of warming temperatures. These new pathogens could be transmitted to humans (Ospina,2017,p.5)”. Also, “the gulfstream would be affected because melted arctic ice would introduce more fresh water to the oceans changing the salinity which could disrupt the Gulf Stream flow which could lead to more extreme global weather conditions(Ospina,2017,p.5)”. Finally “the melting of ice means carbon and other green house gases trapped in glaciers and permafrost would be realised accelerating climate change (Ospina,2017,p.5)”. Besides the damaging release of gases melting permafrost will also affect “35million people living in the area. Melting permafrost will seriously damage infrastructure from ground collapse or lake formations (Ospina,2017,p.6)”. In other words all animals are in danger including humans.

Ospina,C.(2017) Climate Change Impact on Arctic Ecosystems. Climate Institute, pages 1-6, http://climate.org/climate-change-impact-on-arctic-ecosystems/

I chose this summary because the fast changes occurring in the Arctic have made the world very worried about the degrading state of our world due to climate changes. Everyone knows about this situation, but I don't think that we are all informed well-enough, which might be why drastic action to counter its effects have not been implemented. In the academic article "Tipping Elements in the Arctic Marine Ecosystem", it is argued that the thawing happening in the Arctic is going to a higher rate than any other places on the planet, which is very bad news because it implies that the ice (which is crucial in its current ecosystem) is quickly melting away (Duarte et al., 2012, p.44). Other implications of this ice melting not mentioned in your summary are the reduction of albedo causing a warming of the Arctic Ocean, the release of methane hydrates due to permafrost melting, etc. (Duarte et al, 2012, p.48) Moreover, evidence has been shown to prove that human activities are the main causes behind all of the changes in the arctic ecosystem (Duarte et al., 2012, p.44). The irony of this is that, these changes that are caused bring even more human activities on the Arctic soil, because the land is now more accessible and ready to be exploited (Duarte et al., 2012, p.50). I believe that we are capable of fixing our mistakes and that it is not to late for us to try and save the Arctic, even if it might take a lot of resources and will to do so.
Reference list:
Duarte, C. M., Agustí, S., Wassmann, P., Arrieta, J. M., Alcaraz, M., Coello, A., . . . Vaqué, D. (2012). Tipping elements in the arctic marine ecosystem. Ambio, 41(1), 44-55. http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s13280-011-0224-7 Retrieved from https://proquest-crc.proxy.ccsr.qc.ca/docview/917346707?accountid=44391.

Your topic got my attention because its one of the most debated subject nowadays. Students from elementary school to big institution all demand to understand what is happening to our northern glaciers. One of McKie’s points, that snow has been melting away at a rapid rate in the artic, and this has caused many trouble in the ecosystem, such as land loss and water overflow. Actually, the consequences that the deformation of ice is the overflow of water in the oceans. In fact, over 30 years of change, 30% of the ice surface on the artic ground has melted (NSIDC, 2018). The article by Robin McKie also makes a point when it mentions that unbalancing the ecosystem will inevitably affect the way that some animals were living in these habitats. Most of these animal life problems are caused by, once again, the rising heat. And it’s very true, the artic has seen great changes on it’s temperature, and has recorded the most amount of heat accumulated over the last 30 years compared to the rest of the world (NSIDC, 2018).Just in 2010, it was reported that the temperature in this northern hemisphere to be 4 degrees higher than what it was in the 20th century (NSIDC, 2018). The Artic used to play a big role in regulating world temperature by absorbing the excessive heat, which it cannot do efficiently anymore (NSIDC, 2018). The heat is indirectly ravaging the whole northern ecosystem.
NSIDC. (2018). Climate Change in the Arctic. National snow and ice data center, https://nsidc.org/cryosphere/arctic-meteorology/climate_change.html

Your topic got my attention because its one of the most debated subject nowadays. Students from elementary school to big institution all demand to understand what is happening to our northern glaciers. One of McKie’s points, that snow has been melting away at a rapid rate in the artic, and this has caused many trouble in the ecosystem, such as land loss and water overflow. Actually, the consequences that the deformation of ice is the overflow of water in the oceans. In fact, over 30 years of change, 30% of the ice surface on the artic ground has melted (NSIDC, 2018). The article by Robin McKie also makes a point when it mentions that unbalancing the ecosystem will inevitably affect the way that some animals were living in these habitats. Most of these animal life problems are caused by, once again, the rising heat. And it’s very true, the artic has seen great changes on it’s temperature, and has recorded the most amount of heat accumulated over the last 30 years compared to the rest of the world (NSIDC, 2018).Just in 2010, it was reported that the temperature in this northern hemisphere to be 4 degrees higher than what it was in the 20th century (NSIDC, 2018). The Artic used to play a big role in regulating world temperature by absorbing the excessive heat, which it cannot do efficiently anymore (NSIDC, 2018). The heat is indirectly ravaging the whole northern ecosystem.
NSIDC. (2018). Climate Change in the Arctic. National snow and ice data center, https://nsidc.org/cryosphere/arctic-meteorology/climate_change.html

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