Melting glaciers a threat to biodiversity

Melting glaciers around the world are a worrying phenomenon, and in southern Chile, the Pia Glacier is no exception.

Scientists in Chile warned on Wednesday that the retreat of glaciers due to climate change represents a serious threat to marine biodiversity, according to a report by EPA-EFE.

Oceanographers at Ideal - Chile's centre for research on the dynamics of high latitude marine ecosystems - said they have found a direct correlation between the warming that causes the glacier tongue to melt fast and the quantity and health of marine life in the surrounding area.

In their study, the scientists found that in the Pia fjord, where the glacier tongue feeds directly into the sea, there was a high concentration of algae, which attracts a type of zooplankton known as copepods.

As the fjord melts faster into the sea, it releases a large quantity of inorganic material, which sickens and kills the copepods when they ingest it, lead researcher Ricardo Giesecke said.

Scientists concluded that the impact of climate change on glaciers directly affects the food chain, specifically zooplankton - vital both as nourishment for larger creatures and as absorbents of atmospheric carbon dioxide.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 21, 2019, with the headline 'Melting glaciers a threat to biodiversity'. Print Edition | Subscribe