Biologists fish for climate change clues – Fishupdate.com

Biologists fish for climate change clues Published:  11 December, 2006

Gretchen Hofman

SCIENTISTS are literally fishing for clues to global warming’s impact on earthly life by drilling holes in the Antarctic ice.

In these frigid waters under the ice at the bottom of the world, fish and water-dwelling invertebrates have lived with very little change in their environment for perhaps 11 million years, Reuters has reported.

That is likely to change as global warming raises water temperatures, at the same time that greenhouse gas emissions, especially carbon dioxide, alter the water’s acidity, marine biologist Gretchen Hofmann said outside her team’s mobile laboratory on the sea ice near McMurdo Station, the biggest U.S. science base in Antarctica.

Her research asks the key question: can young fish accustomed to constant cold temperatures and unchanging levels of acidity survive the possible simultaneous change in ocean temperature and acidic balance?

“The news might be good,” said Hofmann, who is based at the University of California-Santa Barbara. “Some organisms have a great deal of physiological plasticity and they can survive.

“But in some cases, that might not be true. How will these organisms respond to the changes that are happening right now, and to the trajectory of changes of multi-stressors of pH and temperature together?

“If we learn how the most cold-adapted organisms – the organisms that are most used to cold and no temperature change – how they respond, we might learn something about the processes in temperate species, figuring out what pathways to look at that might be changing – or might not be changing,” Hofmann said.

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