Climate Change Affects Food Chain
July 27, 2010
Rapid climate change on the Antarctic Peninsula is known to have affected many facets of the food chain. Recent research shows that even the very base of the chain, the phytoplankton, are responding to climate change and in two very contrasting ways.
The phytoplankton population in the north has vastly diminished. In the north of the peninsula, seasonal sea ice has diminished and retreated, and the freshwater melt-off that used to shield the water column from winds is much smaller now. Stronger winds mix the water, forcing phytoplankton down to depths where they can no longer photosynthesize or reproduce. On the other hand, in the south of the peninsula, year-round sea-ice cover has retreated and diminished. Areas where sunlight could not penetrate enough to sustain a large phytoplankton population in the past, are now more readily available and phytoplankton populations have gone up.
Topics: Environment, Planktology, Biological oceanography, Aquatic ecology, food chain, Polar seas, Phytoplankton, Antarctic Peninsula, Plankton