Rising temperature is melting the ice that covers the Arctic Ocean, allowing sunlight into waters that have been dark for thousands of years. Previously barren ice-covered regions are being transformed into productive seas. Here we explain how computer modelling can be used to predict how this transformation will affect the food web that connects plankton to fish and top-predators like whales and polar bears. Images of starving polar bears have become symbolic of the effects of warming climate. Melting of the sea-ice is expected to reduce the bears’ ability to hunt for seals. However, at the same time, the food web upon which they depend is becoming more productive, so it is not completely clear what the eventual outcome will be for the bears. Computer models help us to understand these systems and inform policy decisions on the management of newly available Arctic resources.
- climate change
- food webs