What if Antarctica Turns Green ?
Climatic conditions have become more severe since the start of the industrial transformation in the world, and this has led to devastating effects on ecosystems and various species, and climate change today threatens the viability of the Earth’s surface this time in Antarctica.
New changes in Antarctica amazed the scientific community, as snowy algae appeared that turned snow into green, and their spread today is increasing. Scientists believe that these algae may affect the ecosystem in the frozen continent.
The average temperature in Antarctica has increased by about 3 ° C over the past five decades, according to scientists’ estimates. This temperature change may not seem huge at first glance, but it is about 5 times the average global warming rate.
The Antarctic Peninsula is the most affected section of the continent, and it consists of a series of mountains and volcanoes, with a length of 1,300 km, and forms the northern part of the mainland of Antarctica. It is one of the fastest-warming places in Antarctica and the entire world. Scientists recorded one of the warmest days in the peninsula this year, as the temperature reached 20.75 degrees Celsius, which is very high in Antarctica.
The continent has lost about 25,000 square kilometers of the ice shelf since the 1950s. The melting of Antarctic ice is causing excess algae growth, sea level rise and changes in salinity, which may affect marine organisms, including penguins, which depend on the continent’s ecosystem.
Researchers at the University of Cambridge and the British Antarctic Survey conducted a study in which they used satellite data and ground observations over two summers in Antarctica to determine the quantities of single-celled snow-green algae that are common in the polar regions.
The algal blooms reached an amazing degree, and these algae began to color large areas of the western coast of the Antarctic Peninsula and the nearby islands.
The study has been published in the journal Nature Communications. “This is a major advance in our understanding of wildlife in Antarctica,” said Dr. Matt Davey, of the Department of Plant Sciences at the University of Cambridge and principal investigator on the study.
Contrary to what many people think, Antarctica is full of terrestrial and marine creatures, and there are an estimated 46 species of birds on the continent, including albatrosses, ducks and penguins.
These bird species thrive in the peninsula during short breeding seasons. This may also contribute to the spread of green algae.
Their propagation in Antarctica requires a combination of sunlight and nutrients, including iron.
Researchers expect algal blooms to spread more in the Antarctic Peninsula. This may have beneficial effects, as the algae help remove carbon, but many fields of algae in low-lying islands could disappear if the ice below them melts completely.
Scientists today cannot accurately predict what these changes might have on Antarctica and on the planet, and their potential impact on humans and other living things.
“As Antarctica continues to warm on small low-lying islands, at some point you will stop getting snow coverings on those in the summer,” said Andrew Gray, lead author, and researcher at the University of Cambridge and NERC Field Spectroscopy Facility, Edinburgh.
I want to let you discover here below what Cambridge university said about this subject: source
“CLIMATE CHANGE WILL TURN COASTAL ANTARCTICA GREEN, SAY SCIENTISTS”: By Jacqueline Garget
“This is a significant advance in our understanding of land-based life on Antarctica, and how it might change in the coming years as the climate warms,” said Dr Matt Davey in the University of Cambridge’s Department of Plant Sciences, who led the study. “Snow algae are a key component of the continent’s ability to capture carbon dioxide from the atmosphere through photosynthesis.”
“We identified 1679 separate blooms of green algae on the snow surface, which together covered an area of 1.9 km2, equating to a carbon sink of around 479 tonnes per year” said Davey.