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Arctic Waters Blooming in Spring March 11, 2011
Plankton bloom graphic
Spring plankton blooms have expanded across the Arctic as polar sea ice melted at a record rate.
Tiny plants that provide the base of the marine food chain are blooming up to 50 days earlier each springtime in some areas around the North Pole, researches say.

Scientists at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography found that the early blossoming has occurred roughly where recent record melting of sea ice has created large gaps for sunlight to reach the phytoplankton.

Writing in Global Change Biology, the researchers wrote that the “spring bloom provides a major source of food for zooplankton, fish and bottom-dwelling animals.”

They add: “The trend towards earlier phytoplankton blooms can expand into other areas of the Arctic Ocean and impact the whole food chain.”

Graphic: Oregon State University