Thursday, March 31, 2011

Ocean decline around Antarctica

A variety of human impacts threaten ocean ecosystems around Antarctica. The expected results? According to a new study, unless we change our path the Southern Ocean will face: simplification, homogenization, loss of uniqueness--the "dumbing down" of the ecosystem.
"Antarctica is the most isolated continent on Earth, but it has not escaped the negative impacts of human activity. The unique marine ecosystems of Antarctica and their endemic faunas are affected on local and regional scales by overharvesting, pollution, and the introduction of alien species. Global climate change is also having deleterious impacts: rising sea temperatures and ocean acidification already threaten benthic and pelagic food webs. The Antarctic Treaty System can address local- to regional-scale impacts, but it does not have purview over the global problems that impinge on Antarctica, such as emissions of greenhouse gases. Failure to address human impacts simultaneously at all scales will lead to the degradation of Antarctic marine ecosystems and the homogenization of their composition, structure, and processes with marine ecosystems elsewhere."

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