AUG 31, 2017 5:35 PM PDT

How much can 1 more degree really hurt?

How much can 1 degree really hurt? A new study published in Current Biology has just answered that question, and the results are not stellar. It turns out that a warming of just 1 or 2 degrees Celsius in the Antarctic Ocean has huge impacts on marine ecosystems, particularly marine assemblage, which almost doubled growth rates.

Photo: National Geographic Voices

The aim of the study was to get more concrete answers in regards to predictions about our future planet – which will likely be 1, 2, or even several degrees warmer. In order to adequately test this idea, the team of researchers didn’t use abstract computer models or graphing projections. They literally heated an area of seabed around the Rothera Research Station using heated settlement panels in order to mimic rising ocean temperatures.

The results from the experiment showed that the area of ocean warmed to a 1°C increase experienced a boom of bryozoan (Fenestrulina rugula) which dominated the community to such an extent that overall species diversity and evenness plummeted. In this 1°C increase scenario, certain marine worms, Romanchella perrieri, also grew to an average size 70% larger than those under ambient conditions, the researchers report. Such growth of a few species highlights the ultimate truth of climate change: some species will thrive, while others may not survive.

The responses of organisms in the 2°C increase scenario had more mixed results, with growth-rate responses varying among species, ages, and seasons. “Species generally grew faster with warming through the Antarctic summer. However, different responses among species were observed in March, when both food availability for suspension feeders and ambient temperature declined,” Science Daily explains.

"I was quite surprised," says Gail Ashton of the British Antarctic Survey and Smithsonian Environmental Research Center. "I wasn't expecting a significant observable difference in communities warmed by just 1°C in the Antarctic. I have spent most of my career working in temperate climates where communities experience much greater temperature fluctuations and [I] wasn't expecting such a response to just 1°C of change."

Photo: www.asoc.org

So, what’s the take-home message? The researchers say the data shows the impacts we can anticipate climate change will have on polar marine ecosystems. They plan to extend this knowledge and experimental method into other regions of the ocean, such as the Arctic, in order to analyze how warming will affect those locations and communities.

Sources: Science Daily, Current Biology

About the Author
  • Kathryn is a curious world-traveller interested in the intersection between nature, culture, history, and people. She has worked for environmental education non-profits and is a Spanish/English interpreter.
You May Also Like
MAR 23, 2020
Earth & The Environment
MAR 23, 2020
Grasshopper declines signal failing praries
Grasslands cover over 30% of Earth's landmass and account for the majority of cropland globally. Yet, new research p ...
MAR 27, 2020
Earth & The Environment
MAR 27, 2020
Why haven't we stopped burning coal yet?
We all know how bad it is for the planet and for our own public health, so why can’t we just say no, once and for ...
APR 02, 2020
Chemistry & Physics
APR 02, 2020
New development for sustainable energy storage
Sustainable energy storage is a hot topic recently and scientists around the world are working to develop better mechani ...
APR 07, 2020
Cancer
APR 07, 2020
Chemo drugs are leaking into our water
With cancer as the second leading cause of death globally, it comes as a surprise that we know very little up until now ...
MAY 24, 2020
Cell & Molecular Biology
MAY 24, 2020
Common Chemicals May Contribute to Obesity
Several explanations have been proposed to answer the question of why obesity has been on the rise for many years in the ...
MAY 24, 2020
Plants & Animals
MAY 24, 2020
Bees May 'Trick' Plants Into Flowering When Pollen is Scarce
It’s no secret that bumblebees depend heavily on pollen for their unique worker-centric lifestyles. In fact, whene ...
Loading Comments...