High temperatures boost biodiversity in Arctic and sub-Arctic seas

The results of the study prove that global warming is leading to a redistribution of species not only in the tropics, but also in polar areas

Peer-Reviewed Publication


A new study by the Nord University (Norway) in which the Institut de Ciències del Mar (ICM-CSIC) in Barcelona has participated has confirmed that the high temperatures in the Arctic and sub-Arctic seas -especially affected by global warming- are promoting the settlement in these waters of species that previously lived in warmer areas located further south.

Details of the research are reported in a paper recently published in the journal PNAS. To carry out the study, data acquired from more than 20,000 trawl surveys in the Norwegian and Barents Seas between 1994 and 2020 were analysed.

“In 1994, an average of 8 fish species were caught in each trawl in the Norwegian and Barents Seas, while in 2020 the number rises to more than 13, which represents an increase of 66%. The results of the study also shown increases, albeit less significant, in the richness of adjacent areas,” explains lead author Cesc Gordó-Vilaseca, from the Nord University. 

This proves that the warming of waters due to climate change is leading to a redistribution of species, not only in the warmer areas -much more studied- but also in colder areas such as the polar zones, that are warming at a much faster rate than the rest of the planet.

Different responses to warming

On the other hand, the study shows different species’ responses to warming. Of the 193 species included, 71 relatively warm-water species are now more common in the northern seas, while 23 species that were previously more common in the study area are now less common.

However, the study also shows the expansion of some Arctic species that may be adapting well to the rising temperatures. Among the relatively warm-water species that are increasing are some of great commercial interest, such as the common cod (Gadus morhua). In contrast, according to the study, most of the Arctic species that have declined are not fished on a large scale, although they may play key ecological roles, such as the Arctic cod (Arctogadus glacialis).

“The shift in frequency of species, sometimes favoured by high temperatures and sometimes not, could lead to a reconfiguration of ecological interactions and, therefore, could cause changes in the structure and functioning of the entire ecosystem,” warns Marta Coll, researcher at the ICM-CSIC and co-author of the study.

Studies like this one are essential, as they can contribute to the design of more effective conservation and management strategies. For this reason, for future research, researchers will delve deeper into the changes at the level of the entire ecosystem that may be caused by the increase in temperatures in polar areas. The possible effects on fisheries management and protection measures that these changes may cause will also be analysed.


Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences




Experimental study




Three decades of increasing fish biodiversity across the northeast Atlantic and the Arctic Ocean

From EurekAlert!

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Tom Halla
January 30, 2023 6:12 pm

What is the actual yield of the ecosystem? What is the relative mass of the various beasties making up food chains, whether it is precisely the same beasties or not?

Reply to  Tom Halla
January 30, 2023 6:40 pm

I believe that warming and additional CO2 will result in a significant increase in the overall biomass of the planet.

Go through each known ecosystem, one by one, and see which (if any) would be helped by colder temperatures and lower CO2 levels.

There are probably some negative situations with relict populations in alpine conditions, but all of the major ecosystems should have positive responses.

John Oliver
January 30, 2023 7:06 pm

A warmer world is a better world brimming with new life.

Ron Long
Reply to  John Oliver
January 31, 2023 1:52 am

John, are you thinking that this is the reason that many people are leaving New York for Florida? OK, maybe also some of that political TAX/WOKE/CRIME stuff also?

Gary Pearse
Reply to  John Oliver
January 31, 2023 1:25 pm

That would appear to be the real scientific conclusion of this fishy study.

Peta of Newark
January 30, 2023 7:16 pm

What ‘high temperatures’?

Fishes don’t eat ZettaJoules, any other sorts of wildly exaggerated Joules or even frivolous few fractions of Fahrenheits

There is only one significant reason why these fishes are moving around, temperature is NOT it – do not project yourself onto these creatures.

Martin Cornell
Reply to  Peta of Newark
January 30, 2023 9:34 pm

My thoughts exactly. How much warming? What is the change in temperature profile with latitude? With depth? What is the change in the food chain with latitude ?

Gary Pearse
Reply to  Peta of Newark
January 31, 2023 1:21 pm

Oh the fishes would eat Zeta-Jones if she fell into the sea.

January 30, 2023 7:26 pm

The whole world will be engulfed by a pile of small fish in a matter of decades.. said Hanrahan.

These foolish people seem to think that the natural world would simply cease to exist or careen out of control were it not for their careful conservation efforts. Other than maybe providing a meal for a hungry Polar Bear, their efforts will have little to no effect.

Ben Vorlich
Reply to  MarkH
January 31, 2023 4:45 am

their careful conservation efforts.

Apart from stopping over expoitation of a natural resource the majority if not all interference by these people has more negative effects than positive.

Re-introduction of long extinct species can also have downsides

January 30, 2023 7:52 pm

What is the actual measured temperature change of Arctic and Antarctic oceans?

Rick C
Reply to  Denis
January 30, 2023 8:09 pm

Zero point zero zero something, F or C, take your pick.

Last edited 1 month ago by Rick C
Reply to  Denis
January 31, 2023 3:57 am

And remember where we came from. The Ice Age scare of the 60s and 70s.

Bill Parsons
January 30, 2023 8:21 pm

Fortunately herring prefer warmer waters. As for puffin, Chef Google counsels:

What does puffin meat taste like?

Soaked in salt water, smoked with wood chips and dried sheep dung, then boiled for two hours in a sweet malt beverage before being refrigerated and finally served, bone-in and cold, alongside a packet of butter, smoked puffin tastes briny and a bit fishy and musky-sweet in the manner of mesquite barbecue.

Dave Fair
Reply to  Bill Parsons
January 30, 2023 10:26 pm

I think they meant: “… and toiletly-bitter in the maner of sheep-dung barbecue.”

January 30, 2023 8:36 pm

I recall a couple of papers from the very early 1950s (but unfortunately not their titles, authors, or any links to). One was about the ocean around the Scandinavian Peninsula where quite a few species were becoming abundant, from single cell beasties to commercial fish, and some larger creatures, which were previously found no further north than Mediterranean Sea latitudes.
The other paper was about the Pacific Coast of South America where various important fish, particularly anchovies, were now mainly found well north of their previous abode.

Then it got colder again.

January 30, 2023 8:44 pm


January 30, 2023 9:13 pm

This article provides an example of the true causes of the imaginary problem of CAGW. The majority of the human species live in relatively fixed locations, whereas all other species, of lower intelligence (?), migrate to more suitable climates as the climate changes, as it always does and has.

There are no regulations imposed on fish, or birds, or any mammals or life-forms, migrating to more suitable climates. Homo Sapiens is the exception. Everything is highly regulated in our environment.

We strive to create our own environment, with a fixed home and a fixed job in a specific location, and any natural, environmental, or climatic change, becomes more difficult to manage because the majority of us are essentially stuck in one place, or want to remain in the one place where we have built our prosperous life-style.

Humans who wish to migrate to better environments, for whatever reasons, such as poverty, lousy climate, corrupt and incompetent government management, violence and internal conflict, are usually blocked.

This doesn’t happen with any other life-form, and it probably didn’t happen with our ancient ancestors who migrated out of Africa in search of greener pastures.

Reply to  Vincent
January 31, 2023 12:36 pm

Thanks for that observation. Good one.

January 30, 2023 10:35 pm

Yea, blame CO2, this has nothing to do with fish preferring quieter waters to busy shipping lanes

abolition man
Reply to  Redge
January 30, 2023 10:56 pm

I am shocked, shocked I tell you, that these fish are not congregating around offshore wind farms! They must be waacist and homophobic!

Reply to  abolition man
January 30, 2023 11:44 pm

That must be the red mullet, they can’t stand grey mullet.

Reply to  Redge
February 1, 2023 9:07 am

Do they like blue marlin?

Reply to  rckkrgrd
February 1, 2023 10:10 am

Only when marinated in calamansi juice, garlic salt, and paprika

David Solan
January 30, 2023 10:46 pm

  It is a truth that one should always keep in mind, at least within the temperature
range now expected for a good deal of the planet Earth, that, in general, warmth is
always better for life than cold. For instance, the basis of virtually all life on
Earth is plant photosynthesis, which gives us primary plant productivity [“PPP”]. In
most cases, photosynthesis clearly increases with temperature. As the Earth has
warmed over the last 62 years, worldwide PPP has increased over 20% since 1961, and
some of this is surely due to the warmer temperatures and the longer growing seasons
and the increase in arable land thereby created from that warmth. Also fish and
animals, as a general rule, are less productive in colder times and during the winter
than they are in warmer times and during the summer. Studies have verified that the
summer months in both the Northern and Southern Hemispheres are more productive than
winter of new biomass for plants and fish and animals.

  Or, take the case of Earth’s forests, which cover one-third of the world’s land
surface. There are 4 basic forestlands that exist on Earth, and they pretty much
grade in life’s productivity, in lockstep, with their average temperatures: tropical,
subtropical, temperate, and boreal.

  The warmest, the tropical forests, are extremely biodiverse. You’ll find more
different kinds of plants and animals in those forests than anywhere else on Earth.
With year-round temperatures above 65°F and plenty of water, just about any creature
can thrive in them. Subtropical forests are somewhat like the tropical ones, but not
quite as hot or biodiverse. Temperate forests go through all four seasons. The cold
winter in these forests means you won’t find the variety of animal and plant life
you’ll find in subtropical or tropical regions, and many of the animals hibernate or
migrate during the winter. And last you have the boreal forests. They are still full
of life that’s adapted to withstand frigid temperatures year-round, or temporarily
removes itself from the anti-life properties of the cold there, but while they are
known as important carbon sinks, life gaily abundant and reproducing is not their
hallmark. It is more like life trudging through at a snail’s pace — hence all the
majestic trees in those areas, which hardly change from year to year to year.

  So, of course, the warmer temperatures now found in the arctic and sub-arctic would
be expected to correlate with increased biodiversity in those areas (especially in
their waters). And that is exactly what was found in this latest study. Warmth is
just good for life. And while they were at it, the authors of that study should have
included the fact that so is carbon dioxide — because it allows for the quick passage
of the precious carbon of our biosphere from the dead to the living. Why Marta Coll,
one of those authors, had to “warn” anyone about advantageous ecological changes is
beyond me. Notice that now both warmth and carbon dioxide are wildly opposed,
sometimes in a sneaky way, by the global warming kookadoos. Those pretentious twits
are zero for two. Pathetically, actually, they are wrong on a whole host of other
issues as well. You would need a book, a long one, to extensively document all their

David Solan

abolition man
January 30, 2023 11:07 pm

A study that shows that warming ocean waters become more biodiverse? Oh, the horrors! Are most “climate” researchers stuck in a well? Better call Lassie to help them out of their myopic view of reality!
The Coral Triangle in the western Pacific has some of the warmest waters and highest biodiversity on Earth. What could someone with a functional brain and basic logic skills infer? I know, I know, it’s quite cruel of me to ask them to think!

Last edited 1 month ago by abolition man
Coeur de Lion
January 31, 2023 1:57 am

One of the sites I obsessively follow is earth.nullschool.net and Ok I’m not a climate scientist etc etc but I note today that the North Pole is minus 33degsC and the top of Greenland is minus 44. Doesn’t seem likely that it will all melt any time soon. What’s this ‘heating’?

AGW is Not Science
Reply to  Coeur de Lion
January 31, 2023 6:28 am

If some polar temperature goes from -60 to -40, they call that “heating.”

What they should call that is more like “somewhat less bitterly cold.”

And since most Arctic temperature “data” is made up (“infilled”) from distant temperature “stations” that are likely experiencing spurious “warming” due to their proximity to human occupied outposts and their artificial heat sources, you can rest assured that no “melting of the ice caps” is imminent.

And also notice how Antarctica is willfully ignored, since it isn’t warming and more importantly is ADDING ice mass. Guess we can waive away “global” warming of the current warm period just like they attempt to do as respects the Medieval Warm Period, since the northern hemisphere warmed more than the southern.

Reply to  AGW is Not Science
February 1, 2023 6:59 am

Actually measurements show that Antarctica has been losing ice at the rate 0f about 150Gtonne/year since 2002.

January 31, 2023 4:08 am

”WHAT’S HAPPENING IN THE STRATOSPHERE? Around the North Pole, the stratosphere has suddenly become very, very cold. NASA satellites are registering temperatures less than -85 C, the threshold for formation of rare polar stratospheric clouds (PSC). In the past few days, colorful PSCs have spilled outside the Arctic Circle, spreading as far south as Scotland. High-latitude sky watchers should remain alert for these clouds as the outbreak”


Reply to  Robertvd
February 1, 2023 7:03 am


Caleb Shaw
January 31, 2023 7:28 am

In the Washington Times issue of December 2, 1922 (page 63) they mention, “Formerly vast shoals of whitefish were found about Spitzbergen,
but last summer fishermen sought them in vain.” Later the article states, “On the other hand, other kinds of fishes, hitherto unknown so far north, have made their appearance. Shoals of smelt have arrived, and immense schools of herring are reported by fishermen off the west coast of Spitzbergen.”

The article is indulging in a bit of sensationalism perhaps, but basically is describing the antics of the WSC (West Spitzbergen Current) which can drastically change conditions, by changing where it stops being a surface current and instead becomes subsurface current. The article describes summer water temperatures switching from 5 degrees above freezing to 28 degrees above freezing.

You might get a “seven-day free trial” and view the old paper here:


Mind you, this was occurring in 1922. I think a lot of wisdom is passed down father-to-son among fishermen of the north. After all, they’re the ones who have to find where the blasted fish have gone, when they up and vanish. They probably shake their heads when scientists “discover” things that their grandmothers knew.

Reply to  Caleb Shaw
January 31, 2023 8:17 am

Good comment about fisherfolk, they are hands on types and know stuff from observation and experience, not from computer games in warm offices. An interesting variant to this story is ” what happened to the snow crab in the US part of the Bering Sea?”.

Caleb Shaw
Reply to  Yooper
January 31, 2023 12:38 pm

I didn’t know about the snow crab population crash. Just looked into it. Interesting. If it is human caused, my bet would be the draggers. Those nets do a real number on the sea-bottom. But also, other changes in the environment having nothing to with humans can cause amazing shifts in where species are found, and their numbers. I recall reading that fishermen in Peru dislike El Nino’s because it decimates the fish population, but at the same time farmers rejoice, because their dry climate gets better rains.

That MOSAiC expedition, where they lodged the ship in the ice and drifted like the Fram did, “discovered” the sea-ice is far more fertile than once thought. I recall reading, years ago, an “authority” state that, away from the shores, the Arctic Sea would surely be a desert like other oceans tend to be, away from land, and that would surely cause the seals to starve, which would cause the polar bears to starve. FAIL. The seals and bears seemed to do just fine. The MOSAiC expedition then discovered lush festoons of algae hanging from the bottom of the sea-ice during the summer, creating a sort of bottom-of-the-food-chain that enables the Arctic Sea to be very alive away from shores. The richness of those waters is likely why many types of whales migrate north to the edge of the ice, (and why the whalers followed.) Lastly, because the edge of the sea-ice can vary hundreds of miles, any life dependent on that ecosystem must also be able to pack up and move hundreds of miles. It’s a highly variable ecosystem, and difficult to study. We tend to think in terms of ecosystems sitting in one locale, but arctic systems are too mobile for such boxed-up thinking.

Reply to  Caleb Shaw
February 1, 2023 9:17 am

I can understand that a citizen of Phoenix would be less enthused about a degree or two of warming than I am in central Alberta.
I could go to Arizona in winter and they could come to Alberta in summer.
Funny, there are far more Albertans in Arizona right now, than Arizonans in Alberta in summer.
Could that mean that cold is more uncomfortable than warmth.

John XB
January 31, 2023 8:44 am

This proves that the warming of waters due to climate change…’

And the proof this warming is caused by global warming is?

And warming compared to when?

‘… the high temperatures in the Arctic and sub-Arctic seas…’

Reached boiling point have they?

Gary Pearse
January 31, 2023 1:07 pm

Perhaps WUWT is catching more than the optimum number of stories in their net. The consensus, after having suffered through numerous failed prognoses (with no correct ones!), 2 decades into the new millennium with little to no warming, despite accelerating CO2 additions to the atmosphere has them in chaotic hysterical disarray. Every breeze, warm summer day, sirocco from Morocco, cold February, water spout, life-giving rainstorm and dust devil is being named!

‘Catastrophic Anthropo Global Warming’ didn’t happen so it has gone underground – always implied but never to be spoken. The substitute is scan the globe for singular bad weather news, a flood in Merseyside, Guandong or Krasnoyarsk; a heavy snow in Aspendell, Attawapiskat or Karaköl…

Dave Andrews
Reply to  Gary Pearse
February 1, 2023 6:21 am

One of my favourites is the Chacaltaya Glacier In Bolivia at the world’s highest ski resort. It has now disappeared – horrors! But in 1940, before CO2 really got going, it was only 0.22km
long. By 1982 0.14km. 1996 0.08km. 2005 0.01km.

February 1, 2023 9:02 am

Where is the bad news or is this actually better than we thought.

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