Thanks to global warming, Antarctica is starting to turn green


The Antarctic Peninsula has been an area of rapid warming, as they sustain more days a year where temperatures rise above freezing. That's right, the ice is melting at an alarming rate and is leaving behind the mossy undergrowth of the landmass beneath.

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.

The next step, the researchers say, is to study cores from the oldest moss banks in the region - believed to date back 5,000 to 6,000 years.

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

Few plants live on the continent, but scientists studying moss have found a sharp increase in biological activity in the last 50 years.

According to the scientists, Antarctica is turning green due to rising temperatures.

" If the warming continues, there will be an increased shrinkage of the glaciers and the Antarctic Peninsula will be a much greener place in the future", said Mr. Amesbury.

We now know that these mosses are responding to the recent climate change throughout the Peninsula, " Amesbury said.

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The next steps of the research will be to see how much the mosses have extended in space, as well as in height, to see if climate change is also changing the spread of the moss throughout the peninsula.

Antarctica is the tallest continent on Earth, with an average elevation of roughly 8,200 feet.

"What we're going to be doing next is trying to understand more about the relationships between the proxies that we measured in the mosses, how they've changed over longer time scales, before the advent of the human influence on climate", he said.

With global warming acting up more and more, the effects are starting to show.

"The conclusions and the results that we've seen show the response of these moss banks to climate change have been pervasive across the whole of the region", Amesbury told CBC News in a phone interview.

Antarctica may be the world's frostiest place, but a mossy outgrowth along the northern peninsula is making the continent look a bit greener, The Washington Post reports.

"Although there was variability within our data, the consistency of what we found across different sites was striking", Prof.

While the prospect of more plant growth might sound like a good thing from a greenhouse gas perspective, Professor Robinson said the warming could potentially release greenhouse gases from the ancient buried moss, which has so far remained frozen. They should be able to determine how climate change has affected ecosystems over time, especially before human activities begin to cause the current warming, from the beginning of the industrial era to the end of the 19th century.