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Polar bear on sea ice

Shrinking Home

A polar bear tried (and failed) to scramble onto a too-small ice floe in the Denmark Strait in August 2012 during a cruise led by WHOI physical oceanographer Bob Pickart. This summer saw the annual Arctic sea ice extent plunge to a record low as a result of warming temperatures in the far north. Sea ice helps moderate sea surface temperatures by reflecting solar radiation that the darker ocean water naturally absorbs. It also provides habitat for phytoplankton, algae, and other small organisms that form the base of the marine food chain and that supports life in the harsh conditions of the Arctic and Antarctic. (Photo by Carolina Nobre, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)


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