According to the scientists, Antarctica is turning green due to rising temperatures. This rising temperature is having a great effect on the growth of moss in the continent’s northern peninsula. Since 1950, the temperature of Antarctic Peninsula is rising half a degree Celsius each decade. There are two different species of moss that is undergoing the equivalent of growth spurts, along with mosses that once grew less than a millimeter per year now grow with speed of 3 millimeters per year on an average.
Matthew Amesbury, a researcher with the University of Exeter in the United Kingdom and the lead author of the study said, “People will think Antarctica is quite an icy place, but our work shows that parts of it are green, and are likely to be getting greener.” He further added, “Even these relatively remote ecosystems, that people might think are comparatively unharmed by human kind, are showing the effects of human-induced climate change.”
Various researchers from Exeter and Cambridge universities and the British Antarctic Survey carried out a study of 150-year old moss growth in the Antarctic Peninsula by analyzing the samples from the material laid down each year. The mosses form a thin layer at the surface in summer and then freeze over in the winter season. As the layer builds on top of layer, older moss below the layer subside the frozen ground where they are well conserved due to the temperatures.
One of the scientist from Exeter University who took part in the study, Dr. Matt Amesbury said, “What we found were these large, dramatic changes occurring in all of our cores. On average, in terms of the growth rate of moss before and after 1950, there has been a four to five-fold increase in average growth rates.” He further added, “The change had kicked in at different times depending on the location between 1950 and 1980. Between 1950 and 2000 in the Antarctic Peninsula, temperatures increased by half a degree per decade on average.”
Soil samples they took from a 400-mile area along the northern part of Antarctica peninsula showed dramatic changes in their growth patterns from last 150 years. One of the significant thing scientist found was a four-to-five-fold increase in the amount of moss growth in the most recent part of a record.