The Arctic sea ice ecosystem in recent environmental changes

Updated 2001-04-19

Biological materials obtained in the central Arctic Ocean at the FSU “North Pole stations” in 1975-1981 have shown that the multi-year ice and ice/water interface is of rich and diverse biotop inhabited by the large number of diatoms and invertebrate animals. Two main matter fluxes in the sea ice ecosystem may be distinguished: (1) the inflow of biogenous elements from water into the ice interior where they are assimilated by the microflora during photosynthesis (summer stage), and (2) the outflow – from ice to water - of the organic matter accumulated in the summer due to photosynthesis (winter stage). Accumulation of organic matter within the sea ice interior during the process of photosynthesis may be considered as an energy depot for organisms of the whole trophic network of the arctic sea ice ecosystem. Recent data from the SHEBA Ice Camp drifted within the Beaufort Gyre 1997-1998 have shown that: (1) sea ice diatoms are very scarce by species and numbers; (2) fresh water green algae are dominated by numbers and distributed within the whole sea ice thickness; (3) invertebrate animals within the sea ice interior are not indicated; (4) invertebrate animals from the ice/water interface are scarce by species and numbers; (5) concentrations of chlorophyll and nutrients in the sea ice are significantly lower of the average concentrations measured before in this region for the same period of time. Remarkable accumulation of the organic mater within the sea ice interior were not indicated.

This is a National Implementation Plan (NIP) project
Comments and additional information:

Well-known that the sea ice is influenced by a number of physical factors which show large-scale spatial and long-temporal variability. Observed changes in the species composition and dynamic of the arctic sea ice ecosystem may be explained by the growing melting of the sea ice cover during the last decade. We consider several factors and the main of them are: (1) drainage of fresh water throughout sea ice interior; (2) accumulation of fresh water beneath the ice; (3) formation of sharp pycnocline at around 30 m. It is our guess that the recent water/ice system above pycnocline is more a fresh water/brackish system than the real marine system. We suggest that dramatically changes within the sea ice environment can be considered as a result of global warming in the Arctic.

Time frame

Project time span
1999 - 2001
Data collection
1999 - 2001
Data processing
1997 - 2005
Data reporting
1975 - 2001

Contact information

Contact person
Melnikov Igor
P.P.Shirshov Institute of Oceanology Nakhimovsky pr., 36 117997 Moscow Russia
7 095 124 5996
7 095 124 5983

Parameters and Media

Parameter groups measured/observed/modelled
Biological effects
Climate change effects
Media sampled/studied/modelled
Algae (algae, phytoplankton)
Additional information or further specification of types of data / information collected, species / tissues / organs sampled, etc.

Sea ice biota, sea ice biotop, ecosystem, Arctic Ocean


Regions studied
Arctic Ocean
Arctic Ocean - Canadian Basin
Arctic Seas
Beaufort Sea
Russia, Northwest
White Sea
Stations or areas where observations are made

Kandalaksha Gulf of the White Sea, region of Kandalaksha, Marine Biological Station of the MSU (Poyakonda)

Data availability

Are data archived or planned to be archived at an AMAP Thematic Data Centre?
If no (or only part of data are reported to a TDC), where and how are (other) data stored?
Excel format
References to key publications (or planned publications) and data reports
Melnikov I.A. 2000. The Arctic Sea Ice Ecosystems and Global Warming. In: Huntington, H.P. (ed.). Impacts of Changes in Sea Ice and Other Environmental Parameters in the Arctic. Report of the Marine Mammal Commission Workshop, 15-17 February 2000, Girdwood, Alaska, p.72-82. Melnikov, I.A. 1995. An in situ experimental study of young sea ice formation on Antarctic lead. J. Geophys. Res., 100(C3), 4673-4680. Menshenina, L.L. and I.A. Melnikov. 1995. Under-ice zooplankton of the western Weddell Sea. Proc. NIRP Symp. Polar Biol., 8: 126-138. Melnikov, I.A. and V.N. Spiridonov. 1996. Antarctic krill, Euphausia superba Dana (Crustacea Euphausiacea) under perennial sea ice in the western Weddell Sea. Antarctic Science, 8(4), 323-329. Melnikov I.A.1998. Winter production of sea ice algae in the western Weddell Sea. J. оf Mar. Systems, 17, 195-205. I.A. Melnikov, L.G. Kolosova, H.E. Welch and L.S. Zhitina. 2000. Sea ice biological communities and nutrient dynamics in the Canadian Basin of the Arctic Ocean. Deep-Sea Research Part II (in press). Melnikov I., L. Zhitina, E. Kolosova. 2000. Arctic Sea Ice Biological Signal of Global Warming. Proceedings of the NIPR Symposium on Polar Biology. V. 13 (in press).
Samples/specimens archived in specimen banks?

Methods & Procedures

Not specified

Additional Information

Is this a bi- AND multi-lateral project (i.e. a project involving cooperation between different countries)?
Other institutes involved in the project

Moscow State University, Arctic Antarctic Institution, Botanical and Zoological Institutes (S.-Peterburg

Is this project reporting to other organizations/programmes?


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