Ice-free areas in the southernmost continent could expand by up to 25 percent by the year 2100, the data suggests, resulting in a substantial shift in the existing biodiversity, according to the scientists. The lead scientist on the project, PhD candidate Jasmine Lee, told Xinhua recently that the impact of climate change on the ice-free areas, rather than the surrounding ice, is important to better understand the overall ecological situation in the region.
"Until now, Antarctic climate change research has focused mainly on ice sheets and the potential impact on global sea level rise, while the effect of climate change on ice melt and native Antarctic biodiversity has been largely overlooked," Lee said.
"Permanently ice free areas range in size from less than one square kilometre to thousands of square kilometres and they are an important breeding ground for seals and seabirds. They are also home to small invertebrates such as springtails and nematodes, and vegetation including fungi, lichen and moss, many of which occur nowhere else in the world." she added.
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