The National Aeronautics and Space Administration reported in a Science article, “Life Blooms Under Arctic Ice,” June 8 that a scientific mission surveying the Chukchi and Beaufort Seas off northern Alaska discovered highly active phytoplankton blooms just below the sea-ice layer, the first time such plant life has been found beneath the ice pack. The discovery has implications for the amount of CO2 being absorbed by the ocean as well as for migrating birds and whales, since the phytoplankton comprise the base of the marine food web. Thinning Arctic sea ice and widespread melt patches have allowed sunlight to penetrate the water, thus spurring the plant growth.
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