Global warming may be responsible for blooms of phytoplankton in Arctic sea

Researchers have warned that massive blooms of phytoplankton that have recently been found growing under the Arctic Sea may become more prevalent in the future, which could cause significant disruption in the marine food chain.

The researchers have also cautioned that global warming might be responsible for the unprecedented blooms of phytoplankton in the region.

Normally, phytoplankton can’t grow under the ice as ice reflects most of sunlight falling on it back into space. In other words, ice blocks sunlight from reaching the water below.

But over the past few decades, ice in the Arctic Sea has gotten thinner because of increasing temperatures, enabling more and more sunlight to enter the water beneath. It allowed massive blooms of phytoplankton to emerge in the region.

Lead study author Chris Horvat from the Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering & Applied Sciences said, “What we found was that we went from a state where there wasn't any potential for plankton blooms to massive regions of the Arctic being susceptible to these types of growth.”

The researchers found that 30 per cent of the ice-covered Arctic sea now allows sub-ice blooms of phytoplankton in summer months. Just two decades ago, only 3-4 per cent of Arctic sea ice was thin enough to let massive colonies of plankton to flourish underneath.