The buildup of ice in Antarctica has left a third of the biomass in the Weddell sea

The ice buildup in Antarctica has had a huge impact on the lives of the inhabitants of the seabed: according to a study published in the journal Nature Communications, from 1988 to 2014, the total biomass on the continental shelf of the Weddell sea has reduced by two thirds due to changes in the structure of benthic communities. The ice area reached its peak in 2014, and now began to decline, which should lead to the restoration of the productivity of benthic ecosystems in the coming years.

Unlike the Arctic, where the ice area has decreased in recent decades, Antarctica has been observed the active ice formation on the Eastern shelf in the Weddell and Ross seas. The maximum area of ice at the South pole reached in 2014 and then the area began to decline.

The benthos is called all living organisms living on the seabed. They constitute a large part of Arctic biodiversity: due to the insulation in cold conditions of the Antarctic benthos endemic, productive and successful shifts in the periods of shortage of food. In the context of the current climate change is important to study the response of benthic communities to the growth and melting of the Antarctic ice.

Scientists led by Santiago Pineda Metz (Santiago E. A. Pineda-Metz) from the University of Bremen during the 26 years examined benthic communities in the Weddell sea. During eight expeditions to the ship of Polarstern experts collected more than 300 samples of sea soil, sifted 45 cubic tons of sediment and sorted and counted tens of thousands of marine organisms.

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