Antarctic turning green as global warming triggers moss explosion


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.

The study is the result of combined efforts of researchers from the University of Cambridge, University of Exeter, and the British Antarctic Survey who were focused on studying Antarctica's past climate using moss banks instead of ice cores.

Professor Robinson said while the rate of growth increase was surprising, it wasn't unexpected, given the rate of warming in the Antarctic Peninsula.

The research team analyzed data and records from the past 150 years and noted the points in time when plant life experienced sudden growth spurts and that they coincided with a rise in the region's temperature.

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"This is another indicator that Antarctica is moving backward in geologic time - which makes sense, considering atmospheric Carbon dioxide levels have already risen to levels that the hasn't seen since the Pliocene, 3 million years ago, when the Antarctic ice sheet was smaller, and sea-levels were higher", said Rob DeConto, a glaciologist at the University of MA who was not involved in the study, according to The Washington Post.

Plant life exists on only about 0.3 percent of Antarctica.

Researchers at the University of Exeter in England looked at changes in the amount of moss that grew along the Antarctic Peninsula to better understand how warming temperatures have impacted the continent's limited plant growth.

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

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We now know that these mosses are responding to the recent climate change throughout the Peninsula, " Amesbury said. Those sites include three Antarctic islands (Elephant Island, Ardley Island, and Green Island) where the deepest and oldest moss banks grow, representing a 600-kilometer transect along the Peninsula.

Antarctica is the tallest continent on Earth, with an average elevation of roughly 8,200 feet. Recent studies of the Antarctic continent have revealed some seriously handsome changes, but as the result of pretty devastating melting from global warming. "Certainly, Antarctica has not always been the ice place it has been now on very long timescales".

"This is linking into other processes that are happening on the Antarctic Peninsula at the moment, particularly things like glacier retreat which are freeing up new areas of ice-free land - and the mosses particularly are very effective colonisers of those new areas", he added.

Taken together, the team say the results show that moss banks across the region are responding to warming, adding that variations in the measure of favourability for photosynthesis between sites is likely down to local differences in moisture levels. "In short, we could see Antarctic greening to parallel well-established observations in the Arctic". 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.

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