This is due to an increase in the number of icebergs scouring the seabed as a result of shrinking winter sea ice. The results are published this week in the journal Science.
Scientists from the British Antarctic Survey (BAS) show how the rate of iceberg scouring on the West Antarctic Peninsula seabed is affected by the duration of winter sea ice, which has dramatically declined (in space and time) in the region over the last few decades due to climate warming. This increase in iceberg disturbance on the seabed, where the majority of all Antarctic life occurs (80%), could have severe effects on the marine creatures living as deep as 500m underwater.Lead author, Dr Dan Smale from BAS, says:
Ice disturbance has been recognised as a driving force in the structure of the Antarctic seabed animal communities. Iceberg scouring damages areas of the seabed creating space for a high diversity of animals to use. However, an increase in iceberg scour with the seabed would affect the type and number of marine creatures found on the seabed and may cause changes in the distributions of key species.Issued by British Antarctic Survey Press Office.
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