Thanks to global warming, Antarctica is starting to turn green

Thanks to global warming, Antarctica is starting to turn green

Thanks to global warming, Antarctica is starting to turn green

"We are likely to see moss particularly colonising new areas of ice-free land created by the warmer climate ... and particularly things like glacier retreat". What's more, the scientists warn that greening, together with increases in the number of visitors to Antarctica, could make it easier for invasive species to colonise the continent.

The researchers realized they could learn a lot about how rising temperatures have affected the ecology of the Peninsula by studying core samples taken from moss banks, which are well preserved in Antarctica's cold conditions.

The polar regions are warming more rapidly than the rest of the Earth, as greenhouse gasses from fossil fuel burning build up in the atmosphere and trap heat.

Over 150 years of data from three different sites, the team found three times in the last 50 years when moss growth was up to three times its normal rate.

"We looked at the last 150 years of records to try and give a bit of longer term context to well-documented and recorded changes in the Antarctic Peninsula from the 1950s onwards", he said.

Dr Matt Amesbury, who took part in the study, told The Independent: "What we found were these large, dramatic changes occurring in all of our cores".

A moss bank on Antarctica's appropriately named Green Island. The outcome, the study found, was a four- to fivefold increase in the amount of moss growth in the most recent part of the record.

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"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 researcher Dan Charman, a professor at Exeter. Their findings appeared Thursday in the journal Current Biology.

"In short, we could see Antarctic greening to parallel well-established observations in the Arctic".

Currently, plant life is 0.3% in what used to be a state dominated by ice. According to Charman, it is striking to find out the kind of consistency in reports from different sites.

Thanks to global warming, the remote continent of Antarctica is turning greener by the day.

Researchers say global warming has already transformed the Arctic into a "new state" and that further change is inevitable in the near future.

"People will think of Antarctica quite rightly as a very icy place, but our work shows that parts of it are green, and are likely to be getting greener", said Matthew Amesbury, a researcher with the University of Exeter in the United Kingdom, and lead author of the new study.

"The likelihood of this happening is very much an uncertainty, but remains a very real possibility, which is understandably concerning", said Thomas Roland, a co-author of the study also from the University of Exeter.

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