Antarctica is getting greener due to climate change, scientists say

Antarctica's Green Island moss bank with icebergs in the background. |         Matt Amesbury

Antarctica's Green Island moss bank with icebergs in the background. | Matt Amesbury

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.

Moss banks are generally well preserved in Antarctica's cold conditions and analysing drilled core samples from the regions can provide information about the area dating back hundreds of years.

The authors noted that the now observed moss growth changes are probably just the beginning.

The results suggest that even modest future warming could lead to further, rapid changes in Antarctica's ecosystems.

The scientists reviewed moss banks, finding that major biological changes had occurred over the past 50 years across the Antarctica Peninsula.

According to the research team, three out of five moss bank cores they tested showed major biological changes in the last half century.

"Antarctica is not going to become entirely green, but it will become more green than it now is", Amesbury added.

"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.

A bank of moss on the appropriately named Green Island in the Antarctic.

These "proxies" for temperature change include the vertical growth rate of the moss, how much mass it accumulates, and the amount of microbial activity - all of which tell researchers how that moss is responding to changes in temperature and water availability.

The sensitivity of mosses' rate of growth in response to past temperature increases suggests that terrestrial ecosystems of the Antarctic Peninsula will continue to experience rapid change with future warming. They are going to study the severity of the effect before global warming was enhanced by human activities. 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. Amerbury believes that the situation in Antarctic in far from what is happening in the Arctic but continued warming shall bring out a different landscape.

There's more to come, the researchers said.

The changes in the vegetation found on the peninsula are a reaction to warming temperatures over the years.

The researchers said they'll continue to examine core records stretching back in time over thousands of years.

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.

"Antarctica is not going to become entirely green, but it will become more green than it now is", said Matt Amesbury, co-author of the research from the University of Exeter.

Recommended News

  • Boko Haram bombers attack University of Maiduguri again

    Boko Haram bombers attack University of Maiduguri again

    An explosion was heard in the scholol premises at about 11pm while another bomber detonated at about 12am, it was gathered. Two suicide bombers have detonated bombs in the University of Maiduguri (UNIMAID), reports say. .
    Sachin: 'Fiction film would not have worked'

    Sachin: 'Fiction film would not have worked'

    Produced by Bhagchandka of 200 Not Out and Shrikant Bhasi of Carnival Motion Pictures, the film is being helmed by James Erskine. Since the film is scheduled to release on 26th May 2017, Sachin Tendulkar began his film promotion schedule as expected.
    USA  decries Washington, DC, brawl during Erdogan's visit

    USA decries Washington, DC, brawl during Erdogan's visit

    Cavusoglu said Thursday that the Trump administration "did not show any reaction" to the Turkish warning. The U.S. says there's an ongoing investigation that will allow the U.S.
  • Goldie Hawn On Why She Isn't Fighting Ageism

    Goldie Hawn On Why She Isn't Fighting Ageism

    In her first appearance since her split from Ben Hanisch, Amy Schumer revealed she prefers a "nice guy" over a bad boy. I forgot about the perks. "I kind of ran up to her and was like, "Hi, there's a movie, and I'm Amy", and duh-duh-duh".

    Tillerson: Trump Concerned About Moving Embassy to Jerusalem

    Speaking of Trump, he said: "His love for and commitment to the state of Israel is rock solid and it enjoys his highest priority". In an apparent coincidence, Steven Tyler, lead singer of Aerosmith, was visiting at the same time and briefly spoke to Friedman.

    Michigan woman killed in Times Square crash that injured 22

    He also made threats to kill all police and military police he might see when he got released from jail, the report said. However, further drug tests were being conducted while he remains in police custody, the Associated Press reported .
  • Trump administration notifies Congress of its intent to renegotiate NAFTA

    Though manufacturing has dominated much of the discussion about NAFTA, U.S. agriculture has a huge stake, too. WIPR readers were split over whether the renegotiation of NAFTA would be bad for IP owners in the country.

    Will Smith Is Having More Fun Than Anyone in Cannes

    This is also the first festival held since the nearby Nice attack a year ago that killed 86 people. For the first time, two Netflix films are competing for the Palme d'Or this year.
    Trump tweet-warns Comey 'before he starts leaking'

    Trump tweet-warns Comey 'before he starts leaking'

    She also was deputy special counsel to the Senate special committee that investigated President Bill Clinton's Whitewater scandal. When the White House's defense of the move failed to meet his ever-changing expectations, Trump tried to take over himself.
  • Salesforce.com, inc. (CRM) Issues FY18 Earnings Guidance

    Following the transaction, the chairman now owns 34,195,300 shares of the company's stock, valued at $3,002,005,387. A number of hedge funds and other institutional investors have recently added to or reduced their stakes in CRM .

    Rafael Nadal suffers defeat to Dominic Thiem at Rome Masters

    And Thiem ultimately sealed only his second victory over Nadal by earning another break to prevail 6-4 6-3 in Rome . But Nadal sealed titles in Barcelona and Madrid with comfortable wins in the finals of both those tournaments.

    Global ransomware attack appears to slow in US

    The Government Digital Service did not renew the contract, leaving XP machines helpless in the face of attacks after April 2015. The virus tore through the Internet Friday, beginning in the United Kingdom and spread to 150 countries throughout the day.

We are pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news.
Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper.
Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.