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Infotainment December 23, 2023

Octopus DNA reveals long history of Antarctic ice sheet

Scientists have used octopus DNA to study the West Antarctic Ice Sheet’s (WAIS) history and found that it likely collapsed during the Last Interglacial period around 120,000 years ago, a time when global temperatures were similar to today. The study, published in Science, reveals that geographically-isolated octopus populations freely mated around 125,000 years ago, indicating an ice-free corridor during that period. The findings suggest that the WAIS is closer to collapse than previously thought, potentially leading to 3.3 to 5 meters of long-term sea level rise if human-caused warming exceeds the 1.5 degrees Celsius target of the Paris Agreement. The researchers focused on Turquet’s octopus, a species found around Antarctica, and analyzed genetic information to trace historical connectivity, showing collapse events during the mid-Pliocene and the Last Interglacial period. The study emphasizes the urgency of addressing climate change to avoid the collapse of the WAIS.

Source – CGTN

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