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Jasmine Lee / Australian Antarctic Division

Antarctica is thought of as covered in ice, but a small part, about 1%, is dry land. These patches are the most biodiverse places on the continent. Despite this, little is known about the impacts climate change will have on those biological hotbeds. A new study, published today in Nature, found climate change could increase Antarctica's dry land by 25%.

Why it matters: Some patches of ice-free land have species that haven't been seen anywhere else. Others serve as important breeding grounds for seabirds and seals. It's unclear whether existing species could move into the dry land or if animals there now could disappear.

What they did: Researchers calculated the rates that ice would melt or sublimate across Antarctica under two different warming scenarios. They also estimated the change in precipitation and, by combining the calculations, they were able to map where ice is likely to increase and where it might disappear.

What they found: Across Antarctica, ice-free land will increase by about 25%, but the impacts of global warming will vary regionally. In the dry mountain valleys, which are ice-free because they receive no rain, little will change. But patches in the rapidly-warming North Antarctic Peninsula could triple in size. Some places, like the South Orkney Islands, could become completely ice-free.

What it means: All of this uncovered land could be new habitat for existing species, say the authors. In that respect, biodiversity could increase. But it's also possible that animals and populations unique to some patches of rock could disappear or lose diversity as the patches grow and combine. Scientists are concerned that more invasive species could gain footholds as Antarctica becomes more hospitable and ice-free zones increase.

Go deeper

Former Sen. David Perdue to launch bid for Georgia governor

Photo: Megan Varner/Getty Images

Former Senator David Perdue (R) plans to announce a campaign against Georgia's incumbent Republican Gov. Brian Kemp Monday, according to a source familiar with Perdue's thinking.

Why it matters: Perdue's challenge to his former ally Kemp sets up an unprecedented "scorched earth" battle between Georgia Republicans fueled by former President Donald Trump, in the battleground state. The news was first reported by Politico.

Updated 44 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Bipartisan tributes flood in for "giant of the Senate" Bob Dole

Then-Vice President Joe Biden and former Sen. Bob Dole at an event put on by the World Food Program where he was awarded the first “McGovern-Dole Leadership Award” in December 2013. Photo: Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call

Republican and Democratic politicians, including former Senate colleagues, are sharing condolences and memories commemorating the life of Bob Dole, who passed away at 98 on Sunday morning.

The big picture: Dole, the Republican presidential nominee in 1996, was the longest serving Republican leader in the Senate until 2018, when current Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell surpassed his record.

Former Sen. Bob Dole dies

Former Sen. Bob Dole in 2019. Photo: Tom Brenner/Getty Images

Former Kansas Sen. Bob Dole passed away Sunday morning at the age of 98, the Elizabeth Dole Foundation announced in a statement.

Driving the news: Dole, a revered figure in U.S. politics and the Republican presidential nominee in 1996, served in the Senate for 27 years, including 11 years as GOP leader. Earlier this year he revealed he had been diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer.