SYDNEY -- An increase of just 1-2 degrees Celsius in shallow waters on the West Antarctic Peninsula has radically reduced marine diversity, said a new study released on Friday.

Researchers from the British Antarctic Survey and the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center placed heating panels at the bottom of the seabed in order to measure what effect it would have on local marine species.

Although the temperature only warmed the water a few millimeters above the panels, the increase was enough to have "massive impacts on a marine assemblage," the report said.

"With near doubling of growth rates of Antarctic seabed life, growth increases far exceed those expected from biological temperature relationships established more than 100 years ago."

Marine biologist Jonny Stark from the Australian Antarctic Division told Xinhua on Friday the results of the study were "very surprising."

"It goes against a lot of what we understand about how animals respond to changes in temperature, particularly in Antarctica," Stark said.

"The fact that a couple of species had a big increase in their growth rate was quite unusual at only one degree above what it would usually be at that time of year."

Over the course of the nine-month study, the research highlighted that very little is known about what impact climate change will have on the balance of sea life in certain parts of the world.

In an area like Australia, a difference in ocean temperatures is likely to change around 10-20 degrees throughout the year, however, species in Antarctica have evolved in an environment where there is very little variation in temperature.

"When it starts changing even by only one or two degrees, you begin to put them in the upper limits of what they might be able to tolerate," Stark explained.

"Initially with one degree, it's all good and they can grow faster but by the time it increases by two degrees, which is what we expect to see potentially with current rates of climate change, it might be pushing them to the outer limits of their capabilities."

"It's certainly a concern, I don't think anyone was expecting to see such an increase with an only one-degree change in temperature."

As other marine animals decreased, two particular species began to thrive.

A marine worm is known by its scientific name Romanchellaperrieri and Fenestrulinarugula, a small invertebrate, both grew by around 70 percent in the area.

"These animal are reliant on conditions that allow them to build structures," Stark said.

"They're a bit like a coral, they lay down a calcium carbonate skeleton with a pollack inside."

Up until now, the complexities of the changes likely to be seen in marine ecosystems have been very difficult to examine and predict, according to Stark.

With very little data from field experiments that are done in the "real world," researchers are forced to recreate outcomes in laboratories.

"What happens in the lab and what happens in the real world are often very, very different. In the real world, you have greater variability, you have species interacting with each other and there is also competition." (Levi J. Parsons of Xinhua)