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
AUG 03, 2021
Technology
Using Snakes to Monitor Nuclear Radiation
AUG 03, 2021
Using Snakes to Monitor Nuclear Radiation
Nuclear disasters can be devastating. When these accidents happen, such as Chernobyl in the Ukraine or Fukushima in Japa ...
AUG 06, 2021
Earth & The Environment
Your Coffee Could be Harming the Oceans
AUG 06, 2021
Your Coffee Could be Harming the Oceans
Caffeine is one of the most widely consumed psychoactive drugs in the world. Approximately sixty plant species produce c ...
AUG 22, 2021
Microbiology
Morbillivirus in Fraser's Dolphins May Infect Other Marine Mammals
AUG 22, 2021
Morbillivirus in Fraser's Dolphins May Infect Other Marine Mammals
Scientists are concerned about a virus they've recently identified in Fraser's dolphins. Though the disease has already ...
SEP 16, 2021
Plants & Animals
Climate Change Is Already Bad for Corn Production. Weeds Make It Worse.
SEP 16, 2021
Climate Change Is Already Bad for Corn Production. Weeds Make It Worse.
Climate change is accelerating, causing more severe droughts, heat, and flooding. The United Nations Intergovernmental P ...
SEP 29, 2021
Space & Astronomy
When a Meteor Destroyed an Ancient City, It May Have Inspired Biblical Tales
SEP 29, 2021
When a Meteor Destroyed an Ancient City, It May Have Inspired Biblical Tales
This meteor may have caused a blast as large as the one in the Tunguska Event, and totally flattened a city.
OCT 20, 2021
Earth & The Environment
Building Better Crops: Pumpkin and Squash
OCT 20, 2021
Building Better Crops: Pumpkin and Squash
It’s the time of year for all things pumpkin. But what do you really know about pumpkins? They are generally consi ...
Loading Comments...