Researchers in the Arctic Ocean have drilled through the sea ice and found the levels of phytoplankton far exceeded anything that was expected. This was under thin, new ice that was about 3 feet thick. Analysis of the currents and plankton growth rates show that this plankton is actually growing under the ice and is not being swept in by the currents. One of the reasons this was unexpected is that light does not penetrate ice very well. This is especially true of the thick, older ice that can be very rough and irregular. However, the thinner new ice tends to be flat and allows melt water to form large ponds. The optical properties of these ponds work to allow light to pass through.
Credit: Don Perovich/U.S. Army Cold Regions and Engineering Laboratory
What this will mean in terms of the environment is yet to be determined. But, we see yet another example of how the climate is changing due to global warming. The evidence keeps mounting and has become an entire mountain range. And, as we keep debating this massive amount of evidence, we see that the effects keep mounting as well. Instead of acting, we are being held hostage by the climate change deniers that want to keep any of us from doing anything that will benefit us.
Why is that?