Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

7/12/2013 (1 year ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Glass sponges could be on the winning end of climate change

One invertebrate community on the ocean floor seems to be benefiting from climate change and the melting of glacial shelves. The mysterious, beautiful glass sponge has taken root on the ocean floor in the wake of the disintegration of the Larsen A ice shelf in Antarctica disintegrated 20 years ago. Glass sponges were originally believed to have taken long periods to take root, but with the sudden influx of entire communities being discovered, the life form may be one the few to benefit from climate change.

Populations of glass sponges, or Hexactinellida have tripled between 2007 and 2011, allowing them to completely take over the seafloor.

Populations of glass sponges, or Hexactinellida have tripled between 2007 and 2011, allowing them to completely take over the seafloor.

Highlights

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

7/12/2013 (1 year ago)

Published in Green

Keywords: Glass sponges, Antarctica, Larsen A ice shelf, photosynthesis


LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Populations of glass sponges, or Hexactinellida have tripled between 2007 and 2011, allowing them to completely take over the seafloor.

"The shelf broke off, split into tiny pieces and was gone in a couple of weeks," lead researcher Claudio Richter, a biologist at the Alfred Wegener Institute in Germany, says. "Now the benthos, which we believed would take decades or centuries to move and change, is transforming quickly in just a matter of years."

Scientists originally believed that seafloor communities were very poor as animals could only get food when strong currents brought it in, Richter says. The biologist likens the thick ice shelf to a large balcony attached to a house or building, blocking the sun, which gives organisms at the base of the marine food chain energy.

Photo of a typical glass sponge community in Antarctica

Photo of a typical glass sponge community in Antarctica's eastern Weddell Sea


"If you have a balcony that extends really far out, you would have a difficult time growing vegetables beneath it," Richter says.

Warming waters in Antarctica's Weddell Sea in 1995 caused the Larsen A ice shelf to give way. Sunlight bathed the surface waters afterwards, allowing phytoplankton and ice algae, fed by photosynthesis, to grow. This food was then passed down to the seafloor, helping sponges, sea squirts and other animals thrive.

Scientists in 2007 discovered communities of deep-sea invertebrates that are normally found at depths of 3,300 feet or more. Scientists also saw occasional small glass sponges and large populations of fast-growing sea squirts, which dominated the seafloor.

Returning to the area in 2011, Richter and his colleagues and maneuvered their ROV over the original area surveyed in 2007. The seafloor changed dramatically in just four years: Predatory species such as sea stars were scarce in both surveys, but glass sponges had taken over the seafloor. However, the pioneering species of sea squirts had all but disappeared.

Photo of a typical glass sponge community in Antarctica

Photo of a typical glass sponge community in Antarctica's eastern Weddell Sea


"The sponges are now three times more numerous and two times as big as before," Richter said. What's even more astounding, he adds, is that satellite images show the area was only productive (in terms of phytoplankton and algae growth) for two out of the four years between the two surveys.

Previous research previously suggested that hexactinellid species live long, slow lives. Other research suggests the animals have a very slow metabolism, allowing them to live for 10,000 years or more. Recent findings, taken together with other work, suggest that Antarctic glass sponges that have endured arrested growth for decades can undergo booming periods that allow them to quickly colonize new areas.

"It's a complex issue," Richter said. "It's difficult to predict the evolution of how things develop, but for now, the sponges seem to be gaining pace."

---


Pope Francis: end world hunger through 'Prayer and Action'


Copywriter 2015 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for February 2015
General Intention:
That prisoners, especially the young, may be able to rebuild lives of dignity.
Missionary Intention: That married people who are separated may find welcome and support in the Christian community.



Comments


More Green

Climate scientist faces witch hunt after revealing money come from fossil fuel industry Watch

Image of It is important we get the facts of climate change right so we can make science-based decisions, not politically-influenced ones.

By Marshall Connolly, Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Science is a hotly debated topic on Capitol Hill, as though scientific theories were subject to political interpretation; nonetheless this time it's Democrats who are leading a witch hunt of sorts against climate skeptics. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Democrats ... continue reading


NASA warns of 'megadrought' that could cause massive collapse Watch

Image of NASA is warning that the current drought in the Western half of the U.S. will be nothing compared to future droughts that will impact the region.

By Matt Waterson (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

A new study from NASA warns that the United States is going to endure a drought. The likes of which may not have been seen in 1,000 years; the kind of drought that contributed heavily to the fall of per-colonial Native American civilizations and may cause immense ... continue reading


Will the United States run dry? Nation at risk for prolonged drought Watch

Image of Extended drought in the central plains could possibly lead to food shortages and famines.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

A comparative study has found that the American southwest and central plains could face super-droughts the like of which they have not witnessed in over a 1,000 years. In the study, researchers compared earlier droughts with climate simulations for the coming ... continue reading


Sobering reality: Enough plastic trash in ocean to put five bags on trash on every foot of coastline - worldwide Watch

Image of Volunteers collect garbage along the shore off Manila Bay, during an environmental project marking World Oceans Day in Paranaque, Metro Manila in this June 8, 2013.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Consider this, the next time you discard a plastic water bottle: There is enough plastic debris in the ocean to fill five grocery bags on every foot of every nation's coastline -- around the globe. Those are the sobering statistics are the recent findings of ... continue reading


The 'greatest scientific scandal': Is global warming a scientist-created problem? Watch

Image of Global warming may not be as real as scientists want you to believe, according to weather trending research.

By Abigail James (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

New data research shows much of the global warming trends and temperatures have been tampered with to show a greater increase in warming than actually exists in prime global warming crisis areas, such as in the Arctic. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - "When ... continue reading


Pope Francis Calls Christians to Protect the Gift of Creation: Do Not Fear Papal Letter on the Environment Watch

Image of (Pictured: Pope Francis in a reflective moment) The Catholic Church has been green for a lot longer than any modern environmental movement. We are called to what I call a relational environmentalism; one of stewardship with the earth which God has made and entrusted to us to care for and to share. For those eager to understand Catholic teaching on this vital topic, we should always begin with scripture and tradition. - Deacon Keith Fournier

By Deacon Keith Fournier

Our obligation to live a proper stewardship of the environment is grounded in our obligation to - and solidarity with - one another. It begins with the understanding that we have been given to one another as gifts. In addition, creation is a gift, entrusted to us ... continue reading


As world warms up, Iceland is RISING; soil pushed up by melting icecaps Watch

Image of There is geological evidence in Iceland that during the past deglaciation roughly 12,000 years ago, volcanic activity in some regions of Iceland increased thirtyfold.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Global climate change has many fearful that nations' coastlines will eventually be washed away to sea. In Iceland, the opposite appears to be true -- The Earth's crust there is rising. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - A recent study has found that as ice melts ... continue reading


You could be the reason fish are vanishing from the oceans! The shocking reality and consequences of harvesting fish into extinction Watch

Image of Researches estimate, oceans may be virtually emptied by 2050.

By Abigail James (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Fish are rich in omega-3 fatty acids; health experts and doctors consistently urge large consumptions of fish every day. However, the populations of fish are rapidly dropping due to massive amounts of human harvesting. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The oceans can ... continue reading


OUT OF THIS WORLD VIDEO: Monster leech swallows giant worm caught on camera Watch

Image of Filmed for the first time on Mount Kinabalu, Borneo, for the BBC Two's TV special,

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

In an incredible new nature video from the British Broadcasting Company, or BBC, a giant red leech is seen consuming a worm's body in its entirety. In footage that appears beamed in from another planet, the leech searches the worm's body for an end, and begins ... continue reading


The FRIGHTENING REALITY of sea level rise for United States' coastal cities: Where will they be in 30 years? Watch

Image of New York City is one of the coastal cities that will suffer with sea level rise.

By Abigail James (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

In 30 to 40 years, the sea level is likely to be between six and 15 inches higher than it was in 1986. Flooding along the United States coasts will become more common and some coastal cities may even be left permanently submerged in water. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic ... continue reading


All Green News

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Ezekiel 18:21-28
21 'If the wicked, however, renounces all the sins he ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 130:1-2, 3-4, 5-6, 7-8
1 [Song of Ascents] From the depths I call to you, ... Read More

Gospel, Matthew 5:20-26
20 'For I tell you, if your uprightness does not ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for February 27th, 2015 Image

St. Leander of Seville
February 27: St. Leander of Seville, Bishop (Feast - February 27th) Leander ... Read More

Inform, Inspire & Ignite Logo

Find Catholic Online on Facebook and get updates right in your live feed.

Become a fan of Catholic Online on Facebook


Follow Catholic Online on Twitter and get News and Product updates.

Follow us on Twitter