Global warming turning Antarctica green

Guillermo Lane
May 20, 2017

Although less than 1 percent of present-day Antarctica is covered in plant-life, ice sections are gradually receding and freeing up more space for plants such as moss to spread.

"Then the next summer they thaw and grow some more", study author Matthew Amesbury of the University of Exeter told IBTimes UK.

"Previously, we had only identified such a response in a single location at the far south of the Antarctic Peninsula, but now we know that moss banks are responding to recent climate change across the whole of the Peninsula".

A new study has found a steady growth of moss in Antarctica over the last 50 years as temperatures increased as a result of climate change.

The scientists analyzed data for the last 150 years, and found clear evidence of "changepoints" - points in time after which biological activity clearly increased - in the past half century. According to Amesbury, said the consistency of changes in the samples taken from different areas of the Peninsula show that the changes are widespread.

" The sensitivity of foam growth to the rise in temperature in the past suggests that adjustment of ecosystems will occur rapidly with the current global warming, which will result in upheavals in the biology and landscape of this ecosystem".

The growth of green mosses in Antarctica in the past 50 years has shot up due to warming temperatures.

The researchers from the University of Exeter, University of Cambridge and British Antarctic Survey tested five moss cores drilled from three different sites in the region spanning about 400 miles.

Weather records mostly began in the 1950s but biological records preserved in moss bank cores can provide a longer-term context about climate change.

'In short, we could see Antarctic greening to parallel well-established observations in the Arctic. [Image by Mario Tama/Getty Images] The researchers have taken photos of certain parts of the Antarctic Peninsula that show a surprisingly green landscape. They plan to review core records that date back thousands of years in order to study the impact of climate change before humans contributed to global warming. Scientists once thought tiny marine plants known as phytoplankton could not thrive under sea ice in the frigid Arctic ocean.

"What we're also seeing concurrently with climate change are other physical processes such as glacier retreat particularly", Dr Amesbury said.

While the prospect of more plant growth might sound like a good thing from a greenhouse gas perspective, Professor Robinson said the warming could potentially release greenhouse gases from the ancient buried moss, which has so far remained frozen.

Other reports by TheDigitalNewspaper

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