The latest observations are showing how the Antarctic Peninsula is slowly leaving behind its white, icy aspect and instead, turning into a green, vegetation occupied landscape.
A team of researchers decided to analyze this phenomenon and released its study results earlier this week. These were published in the Current Biology and found global warming to be at the root of the change.
“Temperature increases over roughly the past half century on the Antarctic Peninsula have had a dramatic effect on moss banks growing in the region,” said Matt Amesbury.
The Antarctic Peninsula could Come to Look Very Different than Nowadays
He is one of the study co-authors and part of the University of Exeter. The research team analyzed moss growing on the Antarctic Peninsula as this covers some 640 kilometers. Presently, plant life exists on only some 0.3 percent of the icy continent.
But as the study reported, such areas are expanding faster than believed. The team indicates their sharp increase over the last five decades. They based these claims on their discovery of “changepoints”. These are moments in time in which the local biological activity marked a definite rise.
The change points were detected as the team was analyzing five moss cores. These are column-samples drilled from the planet. Some of these moss cores were taken from three of Antarctica’s Islands: Elephant, Green, and Ardley. These are considered to hold some of the oldest and deepest moss banks.
In turn, this helped offer a “much clearer idea of the scale” of the biological changes. Initially, the team detected them only in a single location somewhere in the south of the Antarctic Peninsula. But the drilled portions show that all the peninsula’s moss banks are responding as well.
Researchers consider that global warming causes the expansion of such mossy areas. As greenhouse gasses accumulate in the atmosphere and trap the heat, they affect polar regions more than other portions of Earth.
The report states that, if the current trends continue, the Antarctica Peninsula will be a significantly greener place in the following years. This can happen as glaciers continue retreating and vegetation spreading over the now ice-free portions.
Image Source: Wikimedia
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