SENSEI

SENtinels OF THE SEA ICE

Over the past 34 years, there has been a decrease of 3.8% per decade in the annual average extent of sea-ice in the Arctic. In contrast, the total extent of Antarctic sea-ice increased by 1.5% per decade, but there are strong regional differences around the Antarctic, contrary to the Arctic.

By the end of the 21st century, the decrease in polar sea-ice extent will range 8-34% in summer and 16-94% in winter.

Satellite images of Arctic (left) and Antarctic (right) sea ice cover in August 2017 compared to the 1979-2000 average (blue line). Images from ClimateReanalyzer.org

Our main objective is to investigate the behavioural and demographic responses of seabirds and seals to changes in sea ice by combining analyses of foraging data acquired by bio-logging/bio-telemetry techniques and long-term demographic data both in the Arctic and in the Antarctic. In each pole, the project will monitor the foraging and demographic performances of 3 predator species, a flying and a diving seabird and a marine mammal, chosen for their upper position in the food webs and their close association with sea-ice.

The project will propose a suite of indicators of sea-ice ecosystem change using seabirds and seals as sentinels of the sea-ice.

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