Sea Ice Ecology

The dynamic Arctic sea ice environment of various ice types and open ocean is a prosperous habitat to a set of interdependent organisms at all trophic levels (Figure 1). The success of this habitation depends on a delicate balance of atmospheric condition, ice quality and water attributes to provide a capacity for hunting, feeding, natal care, migration, shelter and fortification. Additionally, the immigration of foreign species with reduced sea ice obstruction could distress this synergetic ecosystem (Norwegian Polar Institute, 2013).

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Arctic Ecosystem DiagramPolar Bear Bearded Seal Glaucous Gull Zooplankton KrillPhytoplankton BloomBowhead Whale & Killer Whale Ringed Seal Arctic ShrimpWalrusArctic Cod Arctic Prawn Image Map

Figure 1: Interactive Map of physical and ecological structure of sea ice. Adapted from Audun Igesund, Norwegian Polar Institute.

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Material on this page was provided by Maren Pauly, Department of Geography, University of Waterloo

Last updated on 06/11/2017