Rising temperatures in the Antarctic region are turning parts of the frozen continent green. Since 1950, temperatures in the Antarctic Peninsula, the northernmost part of the continent's mainland, have gone up by about one degree Fahrenheit (half a degree Celsius) each decade, much faster than the global average. Consequently, the growth rate of moss on the peninsula has risen dramatically, increasing four to five times since the 1950s. Researchers have studied three sites along a 621-mile (1,000-km) stretch of the peninsula, comparing samples collected over a 150-year period.
The greening of the Antarctic:
- Scientists have suggested adopting the year 1950 as the start of a new geological epoch called the Anthropocene, due to the global effects that humans appear to be having on the Earth.
- “We are likely to see moss particularly colonizing new areas of ice-free land created by the warmer climate,” the researchers predicted. But they confirm that the Antarctic has a long way to go before its landscape is radically transformed.
- The researchers reported the results of their study in the journal Cell Biology.