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Climate change drives expansion of Antarctic ice-free habitat

Lee, Jasmine R.; Raymond, Ben; Bracegirdle, Thomas J. ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-8868-4739; Chades, Iadine; Fuller, Richard A.; Shaw, Justine D.; Terauds, Aleks. 2017 Climate change drives expansion of Antarctic ice-free habitat. Nature, 547 (7661). 49-54. https://doi.org/10.1038/nature22996

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Abstract/Summary

Antarctic terrestrial biodiversity occurs almost exclusively in ice-free areas that cover less than 1% of the continent. Climate change will alter the extent and configuration of ice-free areas, yet the distribution and severity of these effects remain unclear. Here we quantify the impact of twenty-first century climate change on ice-free areas under two Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) climate forcing scenarios using temperature-index melt modelling. Under the strongest forcing scenario, ice-free areas could expand by over 17,000 km2 by the end of the century, close to a 25% increase. Most of this expansion will occur in the Antarctic Peninsula, where a threefold increase in ice-free area could drastically change the availability and connectivity of biodiversity habitat. Isolated ice-free areas will coalesce, and while the effects on biodiversity are uncertain, we hypothesize that they could eventually lead to increasing regional-scale biotic homogenization, the extinction of less-competitive species and the spread of invasive species.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI): https://doi.org/10.1038/nature22996
Programmes: BAS Programmes > BAS Programmes 2015 > Atmosphere, Ice and Climate
ISSN: 0028-0836
Additional Keywords: biodiversity, climate change ecology, projection and prediction, climate change impacts
Date made live: 25 Jul 2017 08:20 +0 (UTC)
URI: http://nora.nerc.ac.uk/id/eprint/516297

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