Melting Ice Gives Birth to a Strange New World.docx

Normally these lilies are found at depths of 2000

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urchins – to adapt to the relative shallows of the Larsen seabed. Normally, these lilies are found at depths of 2,000 meters. The scientists also saw minke whales and rare beaked whales moving close to the edge of the pack ice that had been exposed by the lost ice shelves, said Dr Meike Scheidat, a German scientist on the team. ‘It was surprising how fast such a new habitat was used and colonized by minke whales in considerable densities. They indicate that the ecosystem in the water column changed considerably.’ E One overwhelming conclusion from the expedition was that the marine ecosystem was in a state of flux after the changes in the space of just 10 years. ‘The collapse of the Larsen shelves may tell us about impacts of climate-induced changes on marine biodiversity and the functioning of the ecosystem,’ Dr Gutt said. ‘Until now, scientists have glimpsed life under Antarctica’s ice shelves only through drill holes. We were in the unique position to sample wherever we wanted in the marine ecosystem considered one of the least disturbed by humankind anywhere on the planet. F The Larsen shelves were attached to the Antarctic peninsula, one of the fastest-warming regions, with temperatures 25°C higher than 60 years ago. Since 1974, some 13,500sq km of ice shelves, which are attached to the mainland but float on the sea, have disintegrated in the Antarctic peninsula. Scientists fear more ice-shelf disintegration could lead to the rapid loss of glaciers and ice sheets from the continental mainland, and a consequent rise in global sea levels. G Dr Gutt said one question the scientists wanted to answer is whether the massive movements of ice were detrimental to the life forms on the seabed. ‘During the disintegration of the shelves, many icebergs caved, and the question arises whether grounding icebergs only devastate life at the sea floor or whether such disturbance contributes to a high biodiversity. Iceberg disturbance was much more obvious north of the Larsen A and B areas where icebergs typically run aground. At depth of 100 meters, we saw fresh ice scour-marks everywhere and early stages of marine life recolonisation but no mature community. At about 200 m, we discovered a mosaic of life in different stages of recolonisation.’ The scientists also found small clusters of dead clamshells littering a dark area of the seabed which was probably the site of a mineral-rich ‘cold seep’, spewing methane and sulphide, which had fertilized the region then petered out and starved the surround life forms.
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The reading passage has seven paragraphs, A-G. Choose the correct heading for paragraphs, A-G.
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  • Winter '13
  • 121
  • Oceanography, Ice shelf, Larsen Ice Shelf

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