Researchers in Antarctica say that the region is not only getting warmer but also greener.
A study published today in the journal Current Biology examined moss found along the eastern side of the Antarctic Peninsula.
The results show that the quantity of moss and the rate of plant growth has shot up in the past 50 years, suggesting that the region might have a new look in the future.
“Antarctica is not going to become entirely green, but it will become more green than it currently is,” study leader Dr Matthew Amesbury told The Guardian.
The researchers found that two species of moss that used to grow less than a millimetre per year now grow over three millimetres per year on average.
In the last 50 years, the Antarctic Peninsula has experienced rapid temperature changes and is currently one of the fastest-warming places on Earth.
Although less than 1 percent of present-day Antarctica is covered in plant-life, ice sections are gradually receding and freeing up more space for plants such as moss to spread.
Rob DeConto, a glaciologist at the University of Massachusetts who did not take part of the study, told The Washington Post that the results were an indicator that Antarctic was “moving back in time” to its pre-ice days.
“If greenhouse gas emissions continue unchecked, Antarctica will head even further back in geologic time…perhaps the peninsula will even become forested again someday, like it was during the greenhouse climates of the Cretaceous and Eocene, when the continent was ice free,” he said.
The effects of climate change – which are totally real and cannot be ignored – are easily identifiable at the poles dues to their extreme temperatures.
Unfortunately, it isn’t just the south pole that we have to worry about. Last week, we reported that the Alaskan Tundra has begun to release more CO2 than it traps. Oh dear.
Meanwhile the U.S., led by climate change denier Donald Trump, is currently considering whether to withdraw from the Paris Agreement, a global accord that aims to reduce carbon emissions.
Let’s hope Trump comes to his senses and signs the Agreement. If the world wants to have any hope of combating climate change, it’s going to need America’s help.