Arctic Ocean Diversity Synthesis

Marine Biodiversity

, Volume 41, Issue 1, pp 181-194

First online:

Impacts of changing sea-ice conditions on Arctic marine mammals

  • Kit M. KovacsAffiliated withNorwegian Polar Institute Email author 
  • , Christian LydersenAffiliated withNorwegian Polar Institute
  • , James E. OverlandAffiliated withNOAA Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory
  • , Sue E. MooreAffiliated withNOAA National Marine Fisheries Service ST7

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Arctic sea ice has changed dramatically, especially during the last decade and continued declines in extent and thickness are expected for the decades to come. Some ice-associated marine mammals are already showing distribution shifts, compromised body condition and declines in production/abundance in response to sea-ice declines. In contrast, temperate marine mammal species are showing northward expansions of their ranges, which are likely to cause competitive pressure on some endemic Arctic species, as well as putting them at greater risk of predation, disease and parasite infections. The negative impacts observed to date within Arctic marine mammal populations are expected to continue and perhaps escalate over the coming decade, with continued declines in seasonal coverage of sea ice. This situation presents a significant risk to marine biodiversity among endemic Arctic marine mammals.


Climate change Competition Conservation Extinction threat Habitat deterioration Management