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Arctic lifeline could be cut by expanding offshore oil drilling

Not long ago, bowhead whales in the Barents Sea, between the Norwegian and Russian Arctic, were thought to be extinct because of whaling activities. But scientists discovered that a small number of bowheads still live in a biologically rich area known as the marginal ice zone. Despite prices for crude oil dipping into historic lows, this group of critically endangered whales faces a new threat as the Norwegian parliament decides in the coming weeks whether to expand oil drilling into the globally significant marginal ice zone.The marginal ice zone is the area where Arctic sea ice meets the open ocean. It stretches like a belt across the Arctic, thousands of kilometers long, as the extent of the ice expands and retreats throughout the year. This area has supported unique biodiversity such as phytoplankton, zooplankton, fish, polar bears, birds, seals and whales for millions of years. It is now under threat from climate change as the shrinking extent of the sea ice tempts oil producers …