Antarctica Plant Life Gets Boost - from Climate Change
Antarctica Plant Life Gets Boost - from Climate Change
Green Island moss bank with icebergs. SWNSMore
19 May, 2017, 18:16
Matthew Amesbury, a researcher with the University of Exeter in the United Kingdom and the lead author of the study said, "People will think Antarctica is quite an icy place, but our work shows that parts of it are green, and are likely to be getting greener".
Those sites include three Antarctic islands - Elephant Island, Ardley Island, and Green Island - where the deepest and oldest moss banks grow.
With global warming acting up more and more, the effects are starting to show.
"Because we have got this wide transect now and all of the [sites examined] are showing the same response, consistently over that 1,000km transect, that makes us much more confident that it is a response to temperature change", said Amesbury.
The latest study claims the rate of moss growth is now four to five times higher than it was pre-1950.
The researchers also said that the sensitivity of moss growth rate in response to past temperature increases suggest that terrestrial ecosystems of the Antarctic Peninsula will continue to experience rapid change during future warmings.
"These changes, combined with increased ice-free land areas from glacier retreat, will drive large-scale adjustment to the biological functioning, appearance, and landscape of the [Antarctic peninsula] over the rest of the 21st century and beyond", they write.
The Arctic is warming the fastest, but Antarctica is not far behind, with annual temperatures gaining nearly one degree Fahrenheit (half degree Celsius) each decade since the 1950s.
If there's a colour associated with Antarctica, it's white.
"Antarctica is not going to become entirely green, but it will become more green than it now is", study leader Dr Matthew Amesbury told The Guardian.
The changes that were catalogued in the layers showed they were out of the normal range of the previous 2,000 years shown in ice core records, they write.
"But these vivid splashes of green in the ice white are something that we should be increasingly aware of".
The changes in the vegetation found on the peninsula are a reaction to warming temperatures over the years.
An global team of climate scientists found the reason due to which the atmosphere over Antarctica heats up much slower than over the Arctic.
"I don't see too much of a problem with regional moss species", said Hodgson "and there are also two grasses that have been found".
"Although there was variability within our data, the consistency of what we found across different sites was striking", said Dan Charman, another author from Exeter.
"In short, we could see Antarctic greening to parallel well-established observations in the Arctic", Professor Dan Charman of the University of Exeter, who led the research project, said in a statement.
The team then analysed the cores, examining the top 20cm of each to allow the scientists to look back over 150 years and explore changes over time across a number of factors.
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