Arctic Ocean: Climate change is flooding the remote north with light - and new species

The crew of the  U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Healy, in the midst of their ICESCAPE mission, retrieves supplies for some mid-mission fixes dropped by parachute from a C-130 in the Arctic Ocean in this July 12, 2011 NASA handout photo obtained by Reuters June 11, 2011. Scientists punched through the sea ice to find waters richer in phytoplankton than any other region on earth.  Phytoplankton, the base component of the marine food chain, were thought to grow in the Arctic Ocean only after sea ice had retreated for the summer. Scientists now think that the thinning Arctic ice is allowing sunlight to reach the waters under the sea ice, catalyzing the plant blooms where they had never been observed. REUTERS/Kathryn Hansen/NASA   (UNITED STATES - Tags: ENVIRONMENT SCIENCE TECHNOLOGY) THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY. IT IS DISTRIBUTED, EXACTLY AS RECEIVED BY REUTERS, AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS. FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NOT FOR SALE FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS - TM3E86B0WCN01

The Arctic Ocean provides a major opportunity for researchers to understand how climate change effects our planet. Image: REUTERS/Kathryn Hansen/NASA

Jørgen Berge
Vice Dean for Research, Arctic and Marine Biology, University of Tromsø
Carlos Duarte
Adjunct professor, King Abdullah University of Science and Technology
Dorte Krause-Jensen
Professor, Marine Ecology, Aarhus University
Karen Filbee-Dexter
Research Fellow in Marine Ecology, Université Laval
Kimberly Howland
Research Scientist/Adjunct University Professor, Université du Québec à Rimouski (UQAR)
Philippe Archambault
Professor & Scientific Director of ArcticNet, Université Laval
Our Impact
The Big Picture
Explore and monitor how Ocean is affecting economies, industries and global issues
A hand holding a looking glass by a lake
Crowdsource Innovation
Get involved with our crowdsourced digital platform to deliver impact at scale
Stay up to date:


Have you read?
A researcher stands on a ship in the arctic, during the polar night with a flashlight.
The polar night can last for weeks and even months in the high Arctic. Image: Michael O. Snyder, Author provided
A research ship is seen in the arctic ocean at night, with bright lights.
Creatures which have adapted to the polar night over millions of years are now suddenly exposed to artificial light. Image: Michael O. Snyder, Author provided
A research ship is seen in the distance of the arctic among snow.
Research in the Arctic could change considerably over the coming years to reduce light pollution. Image: Michael O. Snyder, Author provided
Underwater sea kelp is shown
Badderlocks, or winged kelp, off the coast of Nunavut in the Canadian Arctic. Image: Ignacio Garrido/ArcticKelp, Author provided
A diver is seen swimming among sea help
A diver explores a four-metre-high sugar kelp forest off Southampton Island, Canada. Image: Ignacio Garrido/ArcticKelp, Author provided
a map showing ocean temperatures while mapping sea kelp forests
Known locations of kelp forests and global trends in predicted average summer surface temperature increase over next two decades, according to IPCC models. Image: Filbee-Dexter et al. (2018), Author provided
A forest of sea kelp attracting lots of marine life
Kelp forests offer lots of nooks and crannies and surfaces to settle on, making them rich in wildlife. Image: Ignacio Garrido/ArcticKelp, Author provided
A crab resting on sea kelp
A crab finds refuge on Laminaria solidungula – the only kelp species endemic to the Arctic. Image: Ignacio Garrido/ArcticKelp, Author provided
A shot of the arctic ocean from the shore
Passengers from a cruise ship arrive in Pond Inlet, Nunavut. Image: Kimberly Howland, Author provided
A research ship is shown by a small ice berg
A cargo ship passes through Milne Inlet, Nunavut. Image: Kimberly Howland, Author provided
a group of searchers examine their samples by the ocean's edge
Members of the 2019 field team from Pond Inlet and Salluit filter eDNA from water samples collected from Milne Inlet. Image: Christopher Mckindsey, Author provided
Don't miss any update on this topic

Create a free account and access your personalized content collection with our latest publications and analyses.

Sign up for free

License and Republishing

World Economic Forum articles may be republished in accordance with the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International Public License, and in accordance with our Terms of Use.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author alone and not the World Economic Forum.

Related topics:
OceanRestoring ocean lifeClimate Change
World Economic Forum logo
Global Agenda

The Agenda Weekly

A weekly update of the most important issues driving the global agenda

Subscribe today

You can unsubscribe at any time using the link in our emails. For more details, review our privacy policy.

Why the tropical majority is key to creating effective ocean solutions at COP28, and beyond

Josheena Naggea, Alfredo Giron and Ana Spalding

November 29, 2023


About Us



Partners & Members

  • Join Us

Language Editions

Privacy Policy & Terms of Service

© 2023 World Economic Forum