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Bering Sea Ecosystems Changing Rapidly In Response To Climate Shift

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hatrack Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Mar-10-06 05:22 PM
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Bering Sea Ecosystems Changing Rapidly In Response To Climate Shift
Physical changes--including rising air and seawater temperatures and decreasing seasonal ice cover--appear to be the cause of a series of biological changes in the northern Bering Sea ecosystem that could have long-range and irreversible effects on the animals that live there and on the people who depend on them for their livelihoods.

In a paper published March 10 in the journal Science, a team of U.S. and Canadian researchers use data from long-term observations of physical properties and biological communities to conclude that previously documented physical changes in the Arctic in recent years are profoundly affecting Arctic life.

The northern Bering Sea provides critical habitat for large populations of sea ducks, gray whales, bearded seals and walruses, all of which depend on small bottom-dwelling creatures for sustenance. These bottom-dwellers, in turn, are accustomed to colder water temperatures and long periods of extensive sea ice cover. However, "a change from arctic to sub-arctic conditions is under way in the northern Bering Sea," according to the researchers, and is causing a shift toward conditions favoring both water-column and bottom-feeding fish and other animals that until now have stayed in more southerly, warmer sea waters.

As a result, the ranges of region's typical inhabitants can be expected to move northward and away from the small, isolated Native communities on the Bering Sea coast that subsist on the animals. "We're seeing that a change in the physical conditions is driving a change in the ecosystems," said Jackie Grebmeier, a researcher at the University of Tennessee and one of the paper's co-authors.

EDIT

http://www.terradaily.com/reports/Bering_Sea_Ecosystem_...
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katty Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Mar-10-06 05:49 PM
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1. good piece-thanks
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phantom power Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Mar-10-06 05:53 PM
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2. Bye bye carbon-sink...
Just what we need, more postive feedback mechanisms.

Those highly productive waters currently act as sponges for carbon dioxide, absorbing quantities of the gas that otherwise would remain in the atmosphere where it would be expected to contribute to warming. But, the researchers say, if the biological trends they observe in the northern Bering Sea persist and are not reversible, the accompanying shift in species and ecosystem structure could have important implications for the role of the sea as a "carbon sink."

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