Living on the Edge: Biodiversity of the Polar Regions

Text & photos by Rituraj Phukan

An explorer and environmental writer from Northeast India visits the Arctic and Antarctic region and documents the iconic species of the area ravaged by rapid climate change.

The polar regions are warming twice as fast as the rest of the world. In the Arctic, parts of the Svalbard archipelago have warmed by an average of 5 degree centigrade in just over two decades. The loss of sea ice, permafrost melting, ocean acidification and sea level rise has had a profound impact on polar ecosystems.

This photo essay is a compilation of observations and images from three expeditions to the Arctic region and one to Antarctica. These iconic species represent the biodiversity of the remotest places on Earth now ravaged by rapid climatic changes.

The world’s repository of biodiversity at Longyearbyen

Global Seed Vault

The Global Seed Vault being repaired in June 2019 after unexpected flooding in October 2016. Also known as the Doomsday Vault, it was built as a backup for humanity with millions of seeds and features to preserve major food crops for hundreds of years. Unfortunately, high temperatures and heavy rainfall caused a damage to the infrastructure less than 10 years after its inauguration.

The Wild Arctic

The Arctic Council’s biodiversity working group has reported the modification of habitats, ecosystems, and populations of arctic wildlife and shi