Thursday, April 30, 2015

Why global warming is dangerous to the aquatic food chain in Antarctica

Didn't know this. As the planet warms, gigantic icebergs break off the Antarctic ice sheets. These icebergs run a thousand or more feet deep. As they move away from the sheet, due to their massive size and depth, they scrub the ocean floor of sea life.

That's the short story. Here is science in a snippet - a quote from Current Biology reprinted by Daily Kos.

Life on Antarctica’s coastal seabed rollercoasters between food-rich, open-water, iceberg-scoured summers and food-sparse winters, when the sea surface freezes into ‘fast-ice’, locking up icebergs, reducing their seabed collisions (scouring). In the last half century, there have been massive losses of winter sea ice along the Antarctic Peninsula, as well as retreat of glaciers and disintegration of ice shelves coincident with rapid recent regional warming [1] . More calving from glaciers and ice shelves coupled with less winter ice should increase scouring of the seabed — which is where most Antarctic species live (http// Polar benthos are considered highly sensitive to change, slow growing and all endemic. However, the only published effect of increased scouring on benthos has been increased mortality of the pioneer species Fenstrulina rugula, adjacent to Rothera Research station, West Antarctic Peninsula [2] (Supplemental information; Figure S1 ). It is likely that the recent increase in mortality in this species reflects the mortality of other species on hard substrata. A 2013 survey dive at a nearby locality (Lagoon Island) revealed large areas where no live mega- or macro-fauna could be found, the first time this has been observed there despite being regularly visited by scientific divers since 1997. Here, we report the first assemblage level changes coincident with increased scouring.

For the rest of the story, with photos, see the report in Daily Kos.

Oh, man. It just occurred to me. The GOPlins have an answer. Send a fleet of A-10s to blow those nasty icebergs to hell. (Got to stop writing this stuff at night.)

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