Popular Science

What happens when you heat the Antarctic Ocean by a single degree?

Hint: it’s nothing good.

Morning commute.

Gail Ashton

What happens to aquatic life along the Antarctic seabed when the surrounding waters warm by a degree or two? Researchers spent six years developing a heating device capable of heating the ocean—while surviving the region’s cutting climate—in an attempt to find out. Their findings were released today in the journal Current Biology, and suggest that even this tiny shift could have a big impact on the local ecosystem.

It wasn’t just curiosity that drove lead author Gail Ashton, a marine and frolicking , researchers are also trying to forecast how will impact marine life that don’t sport perpetual tuxedoes. This includes animals like , a sort of aquatic invertebrate (an animal lacking a backbone). They're sometimes nicknamed “moss animals,” because not only do they look a lot like moss, but they feed by filtering nutrients out of the surrounding water.

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