From: British Antarctic Survey
Published August 31, 2017 02:24 PM

Antarctic marine life may grow faster in a warming world

A team of scientists has discovered that a 1°C rise in local sea temperature has massive impacts on an Antarctic marine community. These new results are published this week (31 August) in the journal Current Biology, and enable researchers to better understand the biological implications of the future ocean warming predicted by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

By deploying heated panels on the seabed around Rothera Research Station, on the Antarctic Peninsula, the team observed that with a 1°C rise in sea temperature, predicted by the IPCC to occur before 2100, the growth of Antarctic seabed life nearly doubled. This is much greater than the long held expectation for biological responses to temperature. With a 2°C rise, however, the results are less clear as some species continued to grow faster whilst others had likely reached a limit.

Organisms on the seabed in Antarctica live in a very cold and stable environment where annual temperatures vary only between -2 and +1°C. The environment has been this cold for millennia, and so marine life has become highly adapted. Understanding how future environmental change will affect the polar biodiversity in the ocean is key, as species may either benefit from or be damaged by small changes in sea temperature.

Read more at British Antarctic Survey

Image: Diver monitoring the heated panels at 15m depth at Rothera Research Station, Antarctica. (Credit: Sabrina Heiser)

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