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Climate change drives expansion of Antarctic ice-free habitat


Lee, JR and Raymond, B and Bracegirdle, TJ and Chades, I and Fuller, RA and Shaw, JD and Terauds, A, Climate change drives expansion of Antarctic ice-free habitat, Nature, 547, (7661) pp. 49-54. ISSN 0028-0836 (2017) [Refereed Article]

Copyright Statement

2017 Macmillan Publishers

DOI: doi:10.1038/nature22996


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 Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:climate change, ice melt, Antarctic, habitat
Research Division:Environmental Sciences
Research Group:Climate change impacts and adaptation
Research Field:Ecological impacts of climate change and ecological adaptation
Objective Division:Environmental Management
Objective Group:Management of Antarctic and Southern Ocean environments
Objective Field:Biodiversity in Antarctic and Southern Ocean environments
UTAS Author:Raymond, B (Dr Ben Raymond)
UTAS Author:Terauds, A (Dr Aleks Terauds)
ID Code:118139
Year Published:2017
Web of Science® Times Cited:195
Deposited By:CRC-Antarctic Climate & Ecosystems
Deposited On:2017-07-05
Last Modified:2018-04-20
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