SAY WHAAAT?: “Our work shows that parts of it are green, and are likely to be getting greener” – Matthew Amesbury, a lead researcher in Antarctica, showing us it shouldn’t always be greener on the other side.
Last week, Amesbury and his colleagues published a study observing two species of rapidly growing moss in Antarctica, arguing the growth provides striking evidence of climate change in the coldest and most remote parts of the planet.
Reminder: Less than 1% of present-day Antarctica features plant life, but in parts of the northern peninsula, mosses grow on frozen ground that partly thaws in the summer.
According to the study, which was published in Current Biology, the mosses once grew less than 1mm a year but are now are growing more than 3mm a year on average, as a consequence of rapid warming that causes more days a year when temps rise above freezing. "Even these relatively remote ecosystems, that people might think are relatively untouched by humankind, are showing the effects of human-induced climate change," Amesbury said.
Side note: This moss growth is still modest compared to what’s happening in the Arctic, where a large scale greening trend has been captured by satellite.