Thursday, June 29, 2017

Antarctica: Decline in biodiversity expected as climate change leads to growing ice-free areas

Areas of Antarctica that are permanently without ice could increase by up to 25 per cent by the end of the century because of climate change.

Ice-free land is home to 99 per cent of Antarctica's
 plants and animals, including penguins.
A study by Australian scientists has found "ice-free areas" will increase up to 17,267 square kilometres by the year 2,100 under a worst-case climate change scenario.

About 68,000 square kilometres — or less than 1 per cent — of the white continent is currently ice free, but that land is home to 99 per cent of Antarctica's terrestrial plants and animals.

They include penguins, seals and seabirds, but also unique species of lichen, moss, fungi and small invertebrates.

Any expansion of ice-free areas could have serious implications for biodiversity, according to Aleks Terauds, a lead researcher with the Australian Antarctic Division.

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