Antarctic has seen widespread change in last 50 years, moss study reveals

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"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 research team analyzed data and records from the past 150 years and noted the points in time when plant life experienced sudden growth spurts and that they coincided with a rise in the region's temperature.

The researchers will continue to examine core records that date back more than 1,000 years with the goal that they can explore the impact of climate change on terrestrial ecosystems before human-caused warmings. The Arctic has shown undeniable signs of climate change by breaking records that show a significant pattern of warming.

Antarctica isn't known for plants - in fact, it is mostly a barren landscape of ice and more ice.

A new study has found a steady growth of moss in Antarctica over the last 50 years as temperatures increased as a result of climate change.

Such a finding would be a happy discovery on any other island, but in Antarctica, it would mean that the ice is in danger of melting or breaking away - a very chilling effect of climate change.

Those sites include three Antarctic islands - Elephant Island, Ardley Island, and Green Island - where the deepest and oldest moss banks grow.

Plant life now exists on about 0.3% of the Antarctic territory, but the study provides a way to measure the extent and effects of global warming.

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Professor Robinson said the increase in the growth rates of moss seen in the study is dramatic if compared to growth at the scale of trees.

"In short, we could see Antarctic greening to parallel well-established observations in the Arctic".

"Whilst we are talking about a greening and our results show quite strongly there is likely to be increased moss growth in terms of the rate and spatial coverage, as a whole the Antarctic will remain a white place for a long time to come".

"Although there was variability within our data, the consistency of what we found across different sites was striking", said Dan Charman, another author from Exeter.

One of the coldest areas in the world is getting greener, and researchers say it's because of global warming.

"Antarctica is not going to become entirely green, but it will become more green than it now is", study leader Dr Matthew Amesbury told The Guardian.

The study, published Thursday in the journal Current Biology, looked back over the past 150 years, concluding that biological activity had greatly accelerated, particularly since the middle of the 20th century.

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