Climate change: effects on polar ecosystems
Ecosystems are adapted to the climate in a specific region, and changes in that climate will affect ecosystems in various ways. Each arctic ecosystem will probably react differently to such changes. Certain climate-related alterations will have significant impact overall: changes in seasonal phases of the life cycle, changes in species distribution, perturbations in the food web, increased occurrence of parasites and diseases, and greater risk of extinction.
The effect of climate change on polar ecosystems may include shifts in species’ range, population structure, occurrence, phenology, behaviour, growth and health status. However, it is difficult to identify direct connections between changes in ecosystems and in climate. To project future effects of climate change in polar ecosystems, it is crucial to gain better insight into cause and effect relationships between physical processes in the environment and the responses of animals, plants and their habitats.
The Norwegian Polar Institute carries out research on species that are particularly vulnerable to climate change, especially those that depend on ice for their survival.
Latest articles on biodiversity
Master thesis project on arctic ecotoxicology – Pollutant effects in walruses
The Norwegian Polar Institute and UiT The Arctic University of Norway are looking for a student to a master thesis project that will examine contaminant related health effects in walruses from Svalbard. Walrus samples will be analyzed for pollutants, hormone levels and immunological responses. In addition they will be analyzed for mRNA expression of genes related to hormone disruption and immune suppression.
Polar bears in Svalbard in good condition – so far
The Norwegian Polar Institute has carried out a counting of polar bears in Svalbard. The results show that there are probably more polar bears than the last time the bears were counted.