11 Mar 2013

Over, Under, and On the Arctic Sea Ice

By Claire Eamer

The shrinking sea ice of the Arctic Ocean has been in the news a lot lately, along with photos of polar bears stranded on ice pans or wandering hungrily along bare shores. But what does the disappearing ice affect, apart from polar bears and some shipping companies that see a shorter sea route opening up?

Claire Eamer photo
Arctic sea ice supports a huge and complex ecosystem that ranges from polar bears, birds, and humans down to organisms too small to see without a microscope. Here are a few sites about that world - and a lot of gorgeous photographs!

The Census of Marine Life's Arctic Ocean Diversity website has great information and amazing images. Click on Species to see some of the creatures that make use of the Arctic Ocean and its ice, from top to the ocean bottom.

The US National Earth Science Teachers Association’s page on Arctic Marine Life gives a quick overview of Arctic Ocean biology, from algae to polar bears.

A young Russian scientist and photographer, Alexander Semenov, has been photographing Arctic sea life and sharing his photos with the world. There’s an article about him (with lots of lovely photos) and here's his own website and gallery.

How about the people who live with the ice all their lives? What can they tell us about it? The Inuit of northeastern Canada have been collecting traditional information about sea ice and sharing it at Inuit siku (sea ice) Atlas.

What does it really look like up there, around the Arctic Ocean, both above and below the ice? The photo galleries of Canada’s ArcticNet research program can give you a good idea.

And if you’re a student or a teacher and you want to see the Arctic for yourself, it just might be possible. Check out ArcticNet’s Schools on Board program.

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