Seafloor predators and open water feeding animals like the starfish and the jellyfish will benefit from climate change, while those associated with sea ice for food or breeding are most at risk, a study said on Thursday
Marine Antarctic animals closely associated with sea ice for food or breeding, such as the humpback whale and emperor penguin, are most at risk from the predicted effects of climate change, according to the study published in the journal Frontiers in Marine Science.
Using risk assessments like those used for setting occupational safety limits in the workplace, scientists from the British Antarctic Survey (BAS) determined the winners and losers of Antarctic climate change impact, which includes temperature rise, sea ice reduction and changes in food availability
They show that seafloor predators and open water feeding animals, like starfish and jellyfish, will benefit from the opening up of new habitats.
“One of the strongest signals of climate change in the Western Antarctic is the loss of sea ice, receding glaciers and the break up of ice shelves,” said lead author Simon Morley from the BAS.
“Climate change will affect shallow water first, challenging the animals who live in this habitat in the very near future. While we show that many Antarctic marine species will benefit from the opening up of new areas of sea floor as habitat, those associated with sea ice are very much at risk.”