The Arctic Ecosystem spans the immediate area around the North Pole of earth and is underpinned by water from the Artic Ocean. Up to 80% of the Arctic ecosystem is ice and provides a suitable habitat for local animals including polar bears, seals and a variety of fish species including whales. Unfortunately over the last 100 years, extensive agricultural practices and climate change have had a detrimental impact on the survival of such species in the ice environment (Green Peace, 2015).
Oil drilling is the primary agricultural practice being conducted in the Arctic Ecosystem. It detrimentally impacts the ice, as large ice breaking vessels must drill through the interior of the ice in order to gain access to the oil locations and then drill deep into the core of the ice located underwater. Oil spills are contaminating the water and ice and consequently harming marine creatures and the natural habitat. Oil changes the acidity of the water, which requires species to readjust. Many of these species including seals fail to adapt to changing sea conditions when these vessels commence drilling and oil spills occur on a frequent basis (WWF, 2015).
Growing human populations in the Arctic Ecosystem are resulting in extensive commercial fishing and changes to its climate. Commercial fishing is eradicating whales and seals in the area whilst climate change involves rising sea temperatures and melting ice. The polar bears in the region are heavily impacted as commercial fishers are catching the fish they would normally feed on and much of the ice is now melting, impacting their local habitats (WWF, 2015). Polar bears rely on the ice for breeding and shelter. With large water masses, polar bears are unable to maintain these habitats and must survive longer in water habitats where they are unprotected. The majority of the Arctic ecosystem is melting and deteriorating as a result of extensive human interaction and climate change. It is predicted that by 2050, only 20% of the Arctic Ecosystem will be ice and the majority of its natural species will have been eradicated (Green Peace, 2015).
- Green Peace. (2015). Arctic Threats. GreenPeace International, Retrieved from http://www.greenpeace.org/international/en/campaigns/climate-change/arctic-impacts/arctic-under-threat/ Accessed on 12 July 2015
- WWF. (2015). Arctic – Overview. WWF International, Retrieved from http://www.worldwildlife.org/places/arctic Accessed on 12 July 2015