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Biological response to climate change in the Arctic Ocean: The view from the past

January 1, 2015

The Arctic Ocean is undergoing rapid climatic changes including higher ocean temperatures, reduced sea ice, glacier and Greenland Ice Sheet melting, greater marine productivity, and altered carbon cycling. Until recently, the relationship between climate and Arctic biological systems was poorly known, but this has changed substantially as advances in paleoclimatology, micropaleontology, vertebrate paleontology, and molecular genetics show that Arctic ecosystem history reflects global and regional climatic changes over all timescales and climate states (103–107 years). Arctic climatic extremes include 25°C hyperthermal periods during the Paleocene-Eocene (56–46 million years ago, Ma), Quaternary glacial periods when thick ice shelves and sea ice cover rendered the Arctic Ocean nearly uninhabitable, seasonally sea-ice-free interglacials and abrupt climate reversals. Climate-driven biological impacts included large changes in species diversity, primary productivity, species’ geographic range shifts into and out of the Arctic, community restructuring, and possible hybridization, but evidence is not sufficient to determine whether or when major episodes of extinction occurred.

Citation Information

Publication Year 2017
Title Biological response to climate change in the Arctic Ocean: The view from the past
DOI 10.1007/s41063-015-0019-3
Authors Thomas M. Cronin, Matthew A. Cronin
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title arktos
Series Number
Index ID 70180967
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Eastern Geology and Paleoclimate Science Center