Climate change is turning Antarctica’s ice green

Pablo Tucker
May 27, 2020

"With multiple and often unknown species recorded within patches of green snow algae, and little known about the dispersal mechanisms, life cycles and plasticity of snow algal species, losses from these islands could represent a reduction of terrestrial diversity for the Antarctic Peninsula", they wrote. "They grow in "warmer" areas, where average temperatures are above zero degrees Celsius during the southern summer, the southern hemisphere summer months from November to February", said Cambridge University in a released Wednesday.

The team of researchers also found out that the spread of green snow algae is further influenced by mammals and marine birds, as their excrement works as fertilizer.

He told that rising temperatures would make increasingly "tenable" conditions for the green growth.

The new mapping found 1,679 separate algal blooms - a key component in the continent's ability to capture carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.


These algae grow along the Antarctic peninsula coastline, which is warmer in comparison to the other regions.

This is said to be the equivalent to the emissions of about 875,000 vehicle journeys in the United Kingdom, though in global terms, it is too small to make much of a difference to the planet's carbon budget. For instance, over 60% of the blooms were found within 3.1 miles of a penguin colony. As per the researchers, this part has been experiencing rapid warming during the latter part of the last century. We generally think it will be white, but in parts of coastal Antarctica it takes on a unusual bright green hue.

The microscopic beings, when they bloom on a large area simultaneously, turn the snow bright green and can be spotted from space, scientists have revealed in an article in Nature.

They also claim the dangers of a warming planet are being wildly exaggerated and question the impact that fossil fuels have had on climate change.


The lead author of the paper, University of Cambridge-affiliated researcher Dr. Andrew Gray has declared that the overall mass of snow algae will keep on increasing.

Although each of the single-cell microorganisms are tiny in dimension, when algae largely inhabit the snow, it transforms a vibrant environment-friendly throughout a location so big that it can be seen from area. The number of 479 tonnes of carbon per year will likely rise significantly. "In someplace, it would be the beginning of a new ecosystem", said Matt Davey of Cambridge University, one of the scientists who led the study.

Mosses and lichens are photosynthetic organisms essential to the Antarctic ecosystem.

In the future, the team will focus on measuring red and orange algae in order to determine how their presence might be affecting the heat-reflecting albedo quality of the snow.


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