Antarctica Turning Green, Why Should We Worry?

If other regions go green it’s time to rejoice but not when Antarctica, an icy edge on the other side of the earth goes green, repleting its ice. Scientists cry foul as it indicates climate change, significantly global warming that is melting down the ice and giving scope to green algae now.

A team of scientists from the University of Exeter used moss bank cores — which are well preserved in Antarctica’s cold conditions — from an area spanning about 400 miles and found a sharp increase in biological activity in the last 50 years. They tested 5 cores from 3 sites before concluding the climate change phenomenon.

“Temperature increases over roughly the past half century on the Antarctic Peninsula have had a dramatic effect on moss banks growing in the region,” said Dr Matt Amesbury. “If this continues, and with increasing amounts of ice-free land from continued glacier retreat, the Antarctic Peninsula will be a much greener place in the future.”

The scientists analysed data for the last 150 years, and found clear evidence of “changepoints” in the past half century.

“The sensitivity of moss growth to past temperature rises suggests that ecosystems will alter rapidly under future warming, leading to major changes in the biology and landscape of this iconic region,” said Prof. Dan Charman, who led the project. “Although there was variability within our data, the consistency of what we found across different sites was striking.”

Plant life only exists on about 0.3% of Antarctica, but the findings provide one way of measuring the extent and effects of warming on the continent.

The paper was published in the journal Current Biology.

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