A recently released study claims that the Antarctic Peninsula is going to look quite different from the icy, white landscape it has us accustomed to. The research team points out that the continent is in the process of warming up, a phenomenon caused by climate change and the rising global temperatures. In turn, this will also mean that the currently mostly barren landscape could start being covered by vegetation.
Antarctic Peninsula May Soon Be a Greener Place than It is Today
“Temperature increases over roughly the past half century on the Antarctic Peninsula have had a dramatic effect on moss banks growing in the region,” stated Matt Amesbury.
He is a research fellow at the British University of Exeter and part of the new study. Research results were released in the journal Current Biology. The study is centered around an analysis of moss core samples drilled from the eastern side of the Antarctic Peninsula. Extraction sites span over 600 kilometers from the Elephant Island in the north to Lazarev Bay.
Insular moss banks are well-preserved thanks to the still cold temperatures. Thin moss layers grow on top of each other, so extracting a core means gaining access to decades, even centuries worth of information. This can offer data on both the growth rate and local conditions throughout the years.
The research team studied information going back as far as 150 years, which also helped point out the recent trends. Over the last five decades, both moss and probably other local plants presented an increased rate of growth.
According to the scientist, the moss layers showed quite a “widespread biological response” based on the rising temperatures. Rising water availability also contributed to this increased growth, but warming temperatures are still considered the primary factor.
The team believes that should this trend continue, the Antarctic Peninsula could become increasingly “greener”. This phenomenon is also likely to be advantaged by the glaciers melting. As ice retreats, more vegetation is now likely to start spreading.
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