NASA finds life under the ice in the ARCTIC! THEY DON'T KNOW THE ECOLOGY OF THE ARCTIC ENOUGH TO BE RECKLESSLY DRILLING FOR OIL! Please write to President Obama and demand they stop SHELL and other oil companies from exploration and drilling until more is known about the ecology of the region due to the new findings. Read the article below and check out the NASA website for more information.
NASA finds surprising level of plant life growth under Arctic ice
Published - Jun 08 2012 02:19PM PST
Raymond Gellner, World News Examiner
In a discovery which may require the need to re-evaluate future climate change models NASA announced on Thursday that a scientific expedition in the Arctic Ocean has found an incredibly high level of microscopic plant life existing and thriving under the sea ice.
In a statement NASA ocean biology and biogeochemistry program manager Paula Bontempi described the discovery to being “ like finding the Amazon rainforest in the middle of the Mojave Desert .”
The finding was made during a NASA-sponsored oceanic expedition in the summers of 2010 and 2011 named ICESCAPE (Impacts of Climate on EcoSystems and Chemistry of the Arctic Pacific Environment). The purpose of this mission, carried out with the aid of a U.S. Coast Guard icebreaker in the Beaufort Sea and the Chukchi Sea, was to study how changes in the world’s environment affect the biology, ecology and biogeochemistry in the Arctic Ocean.
Surprisingly the expedition found high population blooms of microscopic phytoplankton, the base the oceanic food chain, growing under the Arctic ice as far as 72 miles into the ice pack. The under-ice phytoplankton have a growth rate of twice that of the phytoplankton in nearby non-ice covered waters. In addition, scientists estimate that production levels of the under-ice phytoplankton may be up to 10 times that of the phytoplankton in nearby non-ice covered waters.
Professor Kevin Arrigo of Stanford University and leader of ICESCAPE, remarked, “ If someone had asked me before the expedition whether we would see under-ice blooms, I would have told them it was impossible. This discovery was a complete surprise .”
Prior to this find, scientific expectation was that the required light needed for such phytoplankton growth would not adequately penetrate the Arctic ice. However, thinning sea ice may be responsible for increased energy penetrating to the ocean beneath, with an even greater amount of light reaching the ocean under melt ponds. Even so, scientists say that it is too early in the investigation to determine how long these increased levels of phytoplankton have been thriving.
Arrigo stated, “ At this point we don't know whether these rich phytoplankton blooms have been happening in the Arctic for a long time and we just haven't observed them before .
“ These blooms could become more widespread in the future, however, if the Arctic sea ice cover continues to thin .”
The under-ice phytoplankton, if found to be widespread, may require an alteration to future climate change models as phytoplankton use large amounts of carbon dioxide in their biological functions. However, it is still too early to understand the exact effects if any that an increase in phytoplankton production or a loss due to future Arctic oil drilling plans would have on the carbon cycle and the energy balance in the Arctic Ocean and further research is required.