ARCTIC OCEAN – Climate change is flooding the remote north with light – and new species (Jørgen Berge, Carlos Duarte, Dorte Krause-Jensen, Karen Filbee-Dexter, Kimberly Howland, Philippe Archambault, WEF)

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
  • The Arctic Ocean is the smallest, shallowest and coldest of the world’s oceans.
  • The Arctic is warming two to three times faster than any other place on Earth, meaning big changes for the Arctic Ocean.
  • The warming water is having some strange effects, from pulling some species further north to the underwater expansion of kelp forests.
  • It’s also allowing more light to flood in and scientists have discovered that polar night is actually crucial for ecological activity.