Science

Antarctica 'greening' due to climate change

Antarctica 'greening' due to climate change

The Antarctic Peninsula is considered one of the most rapidly warming regions with annual temperatures rising about 0.5 degrees Celsius each decade since the 1950's. That's right, the ice is melting at an alarming rate and is leaving behind the mossy undergrowth of the landmass beneath.

Careful analysis of those five cores going back 150 years showed increased biological activity as the Peninsula has warmed in the last 50 years. In addition to this increase in the thermometer, Other indications of climate change in Antarctica have been identified as an increase in precipitation and stronger winds.

In the new study, the researchers added an additional three sites and five cores to their earlier sample.

"Under future warming scenarios, there is likely to be a greening of the Antarctic Peninsula, both in terms of further increases in growth rates and also a likely expansion of the extent of these moss growths", Amesbury said.

"This gives us a much clearer idea of the scale over which these changes are occurring", said Amesbury.

These samples were taken at three distant sites totaling approximately 640 km in the Antarctic Peninsula on the Elephant, Ardley and Green islands, where the layers of foam are the thickest and oldest.




But recent research has found for most of the past 100 million years, the south pole was a tropical paradise. 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.

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

"We can't measure temperature or any other aspect of climate directly in these moss banks, but we can measure things that respond to temperature", said Dr Amesbury, a paleoclimatologist at the University of Exeter. They are going to study the severity of the effect before global warming was enhanced by human activities. Although plant life is still very scarce in Antarctica, the sediments in the cores offer scientists a way to see how plant life developed and adapted to our planet's changing conditions.

"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", he said.

The researchers will continue to examine core records that date back more than 1,000 years with the goal that they can explore the impact of climate change on terrestrial ecosystems before human-caused warmings.

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.Even these relatively remote ecosystems, that people might think are relatively untouched by human kind, are showing the effects of human-induced climate change.


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