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. The Arctic And Global Warming

Illustration of how much the arctic ice cap may shrink by the year 2100
by Staff Writers
Virginia Key FL (SPX) Feb 21, 2006
A warmer Arctic Ocean may mean less food for the birds, fish, and baleen whales and be a significant detriment to that fragile and interconnected polar ecosystem, and that doesn't bode well for other ocean ecosystems in the future. That's the word from University of Miami Rosenstiel School's Dr. Sharon Smith.

"We've seen models of global climate change for more than 20 years, and they have shown us that warming associated with increased, man-made carbon dioxide emissions will appear first and be the most intense in the Arctic," Smith said. "But what extensive satellite imagery confirms is that this Arctic warming is happening already. Permanent ice is thinning, and the duration of ice-free conditions is extending. This is changing currents and affecting feeding patterns and food source availability for the animal life there."

According to Smith, the match of the physical forcing and the life cycles of Arctic marine organisms is crucial; both need to be relatively predictable in time and space for evolution of this food web to have taken place. Global warming is acting to disrupt predictability, a situation that could cause the rapid demise of marine mammals and birds upon which subsistence human populations depend.

A biological oceanographer, Smith has spent her career examining some of the smallest components of food webs. She is the co-director of the National Science Foundation/National Institute of Environmental Health Science Oceans and Human Health Center that is based at the University of Miami Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science as well as a professor in marine biology and fisheries there. Her presentation was part of a session titled, Observations of Anthropogenic Climate Change in the Oceans and their Implications for Society II: Arctic and Ecosystem Responses. Dr. Rana A. Fine, also a UM Rosenstiel School faculty member, presided over the session with Dr. Richard Feely from NOAA's Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory.

Related Links
University of Miami Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science
American Geophysical Union

Late Pleistocene Americans Faced Chaotic Climate Change Environments
University Park PA (SPX) Feb 20, 2006
The environment encountered when the first people emigrated into the New World was variable and ever-changing, according to a Penn State geologist. "The New World was not a nice quiet place when humans came," says Dr. Russell Graham, associate professor of geology and director of the Earth & Mineral Sciences Museum.

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