"Climate researchers have long warned that the Arctic is particularly vulnerable to global warming. The dramatic shrinking of sea ice in areas circling the North Pole highlights those concerns.
A new report finds that the disappearing ice has apparently triggered another dramatic event - one that could disrupt the entire ecosystem of fish, shellfish, birds and marine mammals that thrive in the harsh northern climate.
Each summer, an explosion of tiny ocean-dwelling plants and algae, called phytoplankton, anchors the Arctic food web.
But these vital annual blooms of phytoplankton are now peaking up to 50 days earlier than they did 14 years ago, satellite data show. "