The Arctic Ocean is beginning to look and act more like the Atlantic. It’s a shift that threatens to upend an entire food web built on frigid waters.
On a cool morning in late July, the Oceania, a blue and white, three-masted research vessel, maneuvers through the dark waters of a fjord on the west coast of the Arctic island of Spitsbergen. Craggy peaks streaked with snow rise sharply out of the water. Expansive sweeps of glacial ice plow between mountains and into the fjord, ending abruptly in towering turquoise walls. Chunks of ice drift by, sizzling and popping like sheets of bubble wrap as they melt and release air captured ages ago.