Winners and losers of the new Arctic

The Arctic Ocean is rapidly changing, and with this change, there are losers and winners. Nansen Legacy scientists, Dr. Geir Wing Gabrielsen (Norwegian Polar Institute), explains in an article by Cheryl Katz in the Kakai Magazine, that he and colleagues have been monitoring Arctic seabirds on Spitsbergen since the 1980s. In 2007, resarchers measured a strong inflow of warm Atlantic water into the fjords on the west coast of Spitsbergen, with the effect of that cold-loving, arctic species decreased in abundance, while Atlantic spieses became more dominating. Geir Wing Gabrielsen and his colleagues saw this change reflected in the diet of the black-legged kittiwakes they monitored on Spitsbergen, which suddenly had the remains of Atlantic fish species such as capelin, Atlantic cod and herring in their stomachs.

The changed diet situation appears to affect seabirds differently. While Kittiwakes and Atlantic puffins seems to win from the new foraging situation, and are increasing in numbers on Spitsbergen, other seabirds like little auks are suffering from the loss of their Arctic prey.