About two-thirds of Antarctic species are expected to significantly shrink in size by 2100 due to insufficient conservation efforts addressing climate change.
This is according to a new study published this week, which projects Antarctic emperor penguin colonies could reduce in population by over 90% by the end of the century.
New research projecting the impacts of climate change on Antarctic biodiversity was published by the Public Library of Science on Thursday.
The report investigated management strategies to protect life in Antarctica from climate change, finding that current efforts would result in mass population declines and risk extinction.
Climate change was identified as the biggest threat to Antarctic species.
Under baseline projections (assuming that current action is continued but nothing new is employed over time), 65% of Antarctica’s native species are forecast to decline by 2100.
Emperor penguins were seen as the most vulnerable species, due to their reliance on melting ice sheets. Other seabirds were also seen as a specific concern.
Is there a bright side?
The report proposed 10 threat management strategies they say could benefit up to 84% of Antarctic biodiversity.
They say the strategies would cost about $AU34 million each year up to 2100. These would include new measures to protect species and vegetation, while also remediating environmentally-damaged sites and minimising the impacts of human activity.