Antarctic ice loss lets the sunlight in, altering ecosytems

By on August 11, 2013

A new study led by a team of Australian biologists suggests that melting sea ice could spark a transformation in Antarctica’s underwater ecosystems, NBC News reported.

Climate change is causing ice sheets in Antarctica to melt earlier in the summer. As these ice sheets melt, the sea floor in more shallow waters is exposed to more sunlight than usual.

Researchers conducted a series of laboratory experiments and collected years of sunlight data from light monitors off eastern Antarctica to understand how ice loss might affect marine habitats.

Scientists concluded that additional sunlight exposure to the Antarctic sea floor would result in a shift from invertebrate-based habitats that currently dominate the region’s sea floor to algae-based habitats.

Image: Green and yellow sea sponges in Antarctic waters (Steve Rupp, National Science Foundation)

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