The United Kingdom and US have confirmed that a “dead zone” has been formed in the Antarctic grasslands on the continent’s northern tip.
It is the largest known dead zone on the planet, and scientists have said that a large part of the landmass is covered in the sedimentary layer that has been deposited by the continent in recent decades.
In a report published on Tuesday, the scientists who authored the study in Nature Geoscience described the formation of the dead zone as “a significant and rapid change in landscape characteristics”, and noted that the area around the island of Erebus was covered with layers of “planktonic organic matter” that was “clearly not there before”.
The authors of the study were led by Dr Tim Beddoes, from the University of Exeter, UK, and Prof Tim M. Dickey, from Texas A&M University.
The team said that “the composition of the planktonic material [on the island] is consistent with a significant increase in the biotic content of the sedimental layer, indicating a large-scale release of microorganisms”.
The scientists described the planktoms that are found in the dead zones as “molluscs, lichens, algae, algae-like algae, and some macroalgae”.
In an interview with BBC News, Prof M.
Dickey said that the planktons are “a major contributor to the overall biota of the landscape”.
“The planktonal carbonate layer is not that large and they’re probably a little more diverse than some of the microorganisms, but they’re a major component of the ecosystem,” he said.
The researchers concluded that “there is a clear and rapid and substantial increase in microorganisms in the ecosystem” of Erenus, which is also home to the world-famous giant penguin population.
“There’s a large amount of carbon dioxide [in the carbonate] and there’s no indication of an increase in plankton,” said Prof Dickey.
“It’s a pretty clear indication of the fact that this [dead zone] is a major contributor in the carbon cycle.”
Dr Beddoe said that it was not clear what caused the change in the plankodemographic characteristics, and added that it may be due to “a different ecosystem in different places”.
However, he stressed that it would be important to follow up on the cause of the changes, because the area is a “very remote and remote place”.
The area around Erens island is considered “remote” because it lies in a remote region of the Antarctic Peninsula known as the Southern Table.
The area is considered so remote that it is inaccessible to other researchers.
In order to access the area, researchers must use specially equipped polar ships that are required to travel at speeds of up to 300 kilometres per hour and are often equipped with thermal cameras, sonar and sonar buoys to detect plankton.
“This is a unique and very sensitive region,” said Professor Dickey of Texas A &M University, who is part of a team which is currently investigating the impact of climate change on the plankbiotic carbon cycle in the polar region.
The scientists’ study concluded that the formation and persistence of the “dead zones” could contribute to the formation or persistence of “a substantial number of species”.
“Our results indicate that the extent of carbon in the landscape is changing at a rate that is significant and consistent with recent changes in the biodiversity of the carbon-rich carbonate-rich ecosystem on the Antarctic peninsula,” the scientists wrote.
They added that “this alteration in landscape carbonate, with a potential contribution of increased carbon dioxide emissions, is likely to be the main mechanism responsible for the occurrence of the ‘dead zones’.” The findings came after a similar study in March 2017 by the same team found that the amount of plankton in the world is increasing rapidly.
The authors also said that this is “a trend that is likely not to be reversed” unless “carbon emissions are drastically reduced”.
“In the short term, it may not matter how much carbon dioxide is emitted, the problem is going to get worse,” said Dr Bedsons co-author Dr Tim M Dickey from Texas Mote Marine Laboratory, who was not involved in the new research.
“I don’t think we’re going to see a carbon emissions spike in the near future,” said Dickey who also stressed that “in the long run, carbon emissions are going to be a problem for a large percentage of the world population.”
The researchers said that their findings are in line with the latest studies on plankton, but said that previous studies had shown that plankton growth in the southern Antarctic was slowing.
In March 2017, Prof Diblons co‑authors Dr Robert B. Pielke, from Georgia Tech, and David C. G. Smith, from Johns Hopkins University, published a study