The authors of the new work studied the history and levels of nitrogen input into the Arctic Ocean to understand how its ecosystems will change under the influence of global warming. The results of the work show that the stratification of open Arctic waters, especially in the areas that pass through the Bering Strait, will not allow surface plankton to receive enough nitrogen for abundant growth.
Some scientists have previously suggested that the melting ice of the Arctic Ocean will help light to reach the surface of the water more often, and this will lead to an increase in the amount of plankton that fish and other living things feed on.
In the new work, the researchers decided to check whether this is really so: they studied fossilized plankton in order to understand the rate of nitrogen input into the Arctic Ocean. As a result of this analysis, they assumed that in the face of global warming, the amount of nitrogen in these open Arctic waters would be limited.
This happens because plankton needs not only nitrogen for life, but also nutrients that are only in the depths of the Arctic Ocean.
Whether plankton can absorb these nutrients depends on how stratified or layered the top layer of the ocean is. These layers allow nutrients to rise gradually to the plankton.