Global Warming Is Turning Antarctica Green, Study Says

Global Warming Is Turning Antarctica Green, Study Says

Global Warming Is Turning Antarctica Green, Study Says

Professor Sharon Robinson, a climate change biologist at the University of Wollongong said the study by the United Kingdom researchers reaffirmed that mosses were a sensitive proxy for climate change in Antarctica.

In fact, the Antarctic Peninsula is one of the regions with the fastest warming on the planet with a temperature rise of about 0.5 degrees Celsius per decade since the 1950s.

"We can't measure temperature or any other aspect of climate directly in these moss banks, but we can measure things that respond to temperature", said Dr Amesbury, a paleoclimatologist at the University of Exeter.

"But this is, absolutely, further evidence the ecosystems in the Antarctic, particularly the Antarctic Peninsula, are responding to human-induced climate change".

Antarctica isn't known for plants - in fact, it is mostly a barren landscape of ice and more ice.

University of Exeter's project lead, Professor Dan Charman, expressed that the continued rise in temperature suggests a rapid adjustment in Antarctica's ecosystem in the future.

Scientists have found a sharp increase in moss growth on Antarctica over the past 50 years.

"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 co-author Matt Amesbury, of the University of Exeter, adding that if this trend continued, then the peninsula would be a much greener place than it is today.

Amesbury stresses that they've found similar differences in all of their research cores across Antarctica. However, in parts of the peninsula, the Antarctic mosses have grown on the frozen ground that usually thaws only partly during summers.

The cores reveal that the warming climate of Antarctica in the past 50 years has spurred on biological activity: the rate of moss growth is now four to five times higher than it was pre-1950.

The cores allowed the scientists to reconstruct temperature and precipitation rates in the region for the last 150 years.

The changes in the Antarctic also parallel the greening occurring in the Arctic, according to the study.

The study, published Thursday in the journal Current Biology, looked back over the past 150 years, concluding that biological activity had greatly accelerated, particularly since the middle of the 20th century.

Fellow research Professor Dan Charman, also from Exeter, said the changes were likely to be significant.

The research teams, which included scientists from the University of Cambridge and British Antarctic Survey, say their data indicates that plants and soils will change substantially even with only modest further warming.

Related news