Questions for ‘Disappearing sea ice could disrupt Arctic’s food web’

Cameras set up in the Arctic’s Chukchi and Bering seas (one shown) record the amount of light that reaches water through the ice. More light means more algal blooms.

K. Frey/Clark University

To accompany feature “Disappearing sea ice could disrupt Arctic’s food web”


Before Reading

1.  Why do scientists worry about Arctic sea ice?

2.  How cold does the water get near the Arctic seafloor?

During Reading

1.  What unusual event did scientists notice in the Bering Sea in the winter of 2017 to 2018?

2.  What is the significance of the Bering Strait in terms of ice movements?

3.  What is the deep cold pool described in the story and what makes it so unusual?

4.  When does sea ice normally arrive in the Bering Sea?

5.  What was Peggy reporting by the summer of 2018?  

6.  Why do scientists describe sea ice as an “anchoring” part of the Bering ecosystem?   

7.  What benefit does spring meltwater bring to the Bering Sea?

8.  How has the rate of the Chukchi Sea’s freeze-over changed since 1981?

9.  On average, how much has the temperature of the Arctic warmed compared to the “long-term average?”

10.  Why does Karen Frey liken melt ponds to “skylights?” And why are these skylights a good thing or a bad thing, based on the reporting described in this story?

After Reading

1. Most of the story focuses on ecosystem effects of the diminishing sea ice. Based on what you learned, how could these changes also affect people both inside and outside the Arctic? (Hint: How do people interact with Arctic waters and ecosystems?)

2.  Algal blooms are an important theme in this story. In what ways can they impact animals throughout the food web? What role, if any, do you see for humans in affecting algal blooms?