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Greening of Antarctica --"Plant Life is Growing Rapidly Due to Climate Change"

 

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Plant life on Antarctica is growing rapidly due to climate change, scientists have found. "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," said Professor Dan Charman, who led the research project at the University of Exeter. "In short, we could see Antarctic greening to parallel well-established observations in the Arctic.

"Although there was variability within our data, the consistency of what we found across different sites was striking." The research team, which included scientists from the University of Cambridge and British Antarctic Survey, say their data indicate that plants and soils will change substantially even with only modest further warming.

 

Few plants live on the continent, but scientists studying moss have found a sharp increase in biological activity in the last 50 years. A team including scientists from the University of Exeter used moss bank cores -- which are well preserved in Antarctica's cold conditions -- from an area spanning about 400 miles.

They tested five cores from three sites and found major biological changes had occurred over the past 50 years right across the Antarctic Peninsula.

"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 Dr Matt Amesbury, of the University of Exeter.

"If this continues, and with increasing amounts of ice-free land from continued glacier retreat, the Antarctic Peninsula will be a much greener place in the future."

Recent climate change on the Antarctic Peninsula is well documented, with warming and other changes such as increased precipitation and wind strength.

Weather records mostly began in the 1950s, but biological records preserved in moss bank cores can provide a longer-term context about climate change.

The scientists analysed data for the last 150 years, and found clear evidence of "changepoints" - points in time after which biological activity clearly increased -- in the past half century.

The same group of researchers published a study focussing on one site in 2013, and the new research confirms that their unprecedented finding can be applied to a much larger region.

Plant life only exists on about 0.3% of Antarctica, but the findings provide one way of measuring the extent and effects of warming on the continent.

The paper, published in the journal Current Biology, is entitled: "Widespread biological response to rapid warming on the Antarctic Peninsula."

The researchers now plan to examine core records dating back over thousands of years to test how much climate change affected ecosystems before human activity started causing global warming.

The Daily Galaxy via University of Exeter

 

Comments

The area studied has the same latitude south as Southern Ireland is north. Hardly surprising there's some moss growing. It is called Green Island after all.
The researchers acknowledge that temps haven't warmed in the last couple of decades. Most new growth is the result of increased CO2 levels. ie; plant food., not climate change.

@Usexpat, Doesn't take long for climate deniers to Trump their pathetic distorted idiocy.
Check any map for distribution of continents, oceans and currents etc in northern and southern hemispheres before you make stupid correlations with southern Ireland.
For the same reason Tasmanians have always had totally different weather patterns from those in France, Caucasian mountains or northern California of same latitude.
I was taught such things in school 65 years ago. As a US expat I assume your schooling was minimal.

Peter,
I would have thought that age would have brought you wisdom, if not breeding but perhaps not.
My obvious point was not to compare weather but to note that the location studied was not within the Antarctic circle but rather farther north of that. Charted in 1905, it was named Green Island because??
As to the climate denier tag, , I reject that phrase. Anthropocentric Global Warming Denier would be more accurate. I leave it up to you to look up the bigger words.
As to education, my STEM degrees are multiple as is my extensive background in horticulture on 3 continents.

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