The pristine white of the Arctic is turning green because massive blooms of plankton can grow beneath the thinning sheets of sea ice, according to a new study.
The phenomenon was first noticed in 2011 and was something of a surprise as it had been believed that the water beneath the ice was far too dark for plants to photosynthesize.
But now researchers have established the reason the plankton can flourish in such a usually alien environment is that rising temperatures have melted the ice to the point where light can pass through.
After developing a mathematical model, they concluded about 30 per cent of the Arctic sea ice is thin enough for this to happen, compared to just three to four per cent only 20 years ago, they reported in the journal Science Advances.
In addition to the thinning of the ice, large pools of water have been forming on the surface, which …