Octopus DNA gives the answers

Octopus DNA gives the answers

JYVASKYLA UNIVERSITY: Collaborating on research into West Antarctic Ice Sheet Photo credit: CC/Tiia Monto

FINLAND has collaborated on research into the collapse of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet (WAIS) during the last Ice Age, about 120,000 years ago.

A groundbreaking discovery using the DNA of the Turquet’s octopus found parallels with current global temperatures.  It also supports the theory that the WAIS tipping point could be reached, even under the Paris Agreement’s target to limit warming to between 1.5 and 2C.

Published in Science magazine, the study has involved universities and research institutes in the UK, Australia, New Zealand, Portugal, Ireland and Germany as well as Finland.

Their research is based a previous genetic study used to test various theories regarding links between octopus populations in Antarctica.

“Only the disappearance of the WAIS can explain the continuous genetic similarities between the current Turquet octopus populations in the Weddell Sea, Ross Sea, and Amundsen Sea,” said Professor Philip Watts from the University of Jyvaskyla. The disintegration of the ice sheet opened a marine passage, connecting these otherwise distant regions.”

This same study provides an answer to the enduring debate as to whether the WAIS collapsed during the last Ice Age.

“The study is significant for predicting the impacts of climate change,” Professor Watts continued.

“During the last Ice Age, the average global surface temperature was about 1.5C warmer than in the pre-industrial era, and sea levels were between five and 10 metres higher than they are today,” states Watts.

“As the WAIS is currently a major contributor to rising sea-levels in Antarctica, its complete collapse means these could rise by three or five metres.”

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Written by

Linda Hall

Originally from the UK, Linda is based in Valenca and is a reporter for The Euro Weekly News covering local news. Got a news story you want to share? Then get in touch at editorial@euroweeklynews.com.