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Earth Science

Climate Change is Turning Antarctica Green, Say Researchers (theguardian.com) 150

Researchers in Antarctica have discovered rapidly growing banks of mosses on the ice continent's northern peninsula, providing striking evidence of climate change in the coldest and most remote parts of the planet. Amid the warming of the last 50 years, the scientists found two different species of mosses undergoing the equivalent of growth spurts, with mosses that once grew less than a millimeter per year now growing over 3 millimeters per year on average, (the link could be paywalled; alternative source below) the Washington Post reported on Thursday. From a report: "Antarctica is not going to become entirely green, but it will become more green than it currently is," said Matt Amesbury, co-author of the research from the University of Exeter. "This is linking into other processes that are happening on the Antarctic Peninsula at the moment, particularly things like glacier retreat which are freeing up new areas of ice-free land -- and the mosses particularly are very effective colonisers of those new areas," he added. In the second half of the 20th century, the Antarctic Peninsula experienced rapid temperature increases, warming by about half a degree per decade. Plant life on Antarctica is scarce, existing on only 0.3% of the continent, but moss, well preserved in chilly sediments, offers scientists a way of exploring how plants have responded to such changes.

Climate Change is Turning Antarctica Green, Say Researchers

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 18, 2017 @06:48PM (#54445415)

    The Greens Party should be happy, Antarctica is becoming Green, after all. Much better than that PC-incorrect all White!

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      More CO2 absorbing plant life!

    • by Caesar Tjalbo ( 1010523 ) on Thursday May 18, 2017 @08:07PM (#54445737)

      Researchers in Antarctica have discovered rapidly growing banks of mosses on the ice continent's northern peninsula,

      I've a feeling every peninsula of "the ice continent" is in the north of it.

      • Just go west until you can't go west anymore, then you'll know which side is north.

      • Oh the nitpickery again ...

        Every direction straight awya from the south pole is north, oki ... and how does that help you to navigate there? Not at all.

        Hence if you look at a map of Antarctica it is usually displayed like on this site: http://wikitravel.org/en/Antar... [wikitravel.org]

        And in their wisdom scientists, interpret that map just like any other ordinary map with north up, south down and west to the left and east to the right. Most notable: Antarctica is divided in east and west Antarctica and some names regions li

        • So the northern peninsula they talk about must be either Anvers Island (wich would be north west, obviously) or one of the very small peninsulas at the "upper edge of the map" which non nitpicking people call: north.

          There is one place called "the Antarctic Peninsula [wikipedia.org]", which is the one referred to. It's clearly evident on any map of Antarctica. The journalist writing the article called it "north," which is correct.-- it is the northernmost extension of Antarctica.

          • Yeah, and that place is called "Anvers Island" as I mentioned.
            So what is your point?

            If you want to nitpick then the most "northern" part of antarctica is in the south east ...
            On the link you gave it is below the "W" of the landmark "Wilkes Land" ;D

            But then again we can argue if the X in the middle is the geographic or magnetic south pole. Perhaps the tip of Anvers Island is indeed a bit more north than the small peninsula "below" Wilkes Lands.

            On the other hand, perhaps the map on your link is not very preci

  • More BS from the AGW crowd. MOSS! Give me a break!

  • I guess we need to get those wheat seeds in the ground.

  • by rmdingler ( 1955220 ) on Thursday May 18, 2017 @06:57PM (#54445457) Journal
    Scientists would agree that this is an alarming trend.

    The problem with climate science, as always, is explaining the significance to the general voter, who might be unlikely to attach the same degree of concern for a +/- 2mm annual growth spurt... even if the millimeter is a measurement the voter understands.

    Further complicating the dilemma is exaggerations like the click-bait title, as you have to read down a ways to discover that "Antarctica is not going to become entirely green, but it will become more green than it currently is." Stooping to the same level of deception as your adversaries backfires, more often than not.

    • by SuperKendall ( 25149 ) on Thursday May 18, 2017 @07:05PM (#54445501)

      .Scientists would agree that this is an alarming trend.

      "Scientists" might but I don't think real scientists would.

      What is alarming about moss taking advantage of warmer weather for a rapid growth splurge? There are lots of examples in nature of things that grow very slowly with an incredibly rapid ramp-up when conditions are even a tiny bit more favorable.

      Alternatte headline "warming expands zone of habitability for species". It's a headline that is equally true but one you will never see in the current climate of fear-mongering.

      • by mattyj ( 18900 )

        I think the crux of the article is the environment, not the moss.

      • The study was published Thursday in Current Biology, by Amesbury and colleagues with the University of Cambridge, the British Antarctic Survey and the University of Durham.

        I don't know for certain that this team of research scientists are more qualified than you or I to expound on the meaning of the moss's exponential growth, but if I had to bet the light bill money one way or the other, I would at least carefully consider their opinion.

        • That word... I do not think it means what you think it means.

          An increase of 3x is not "exponential" and there is no sign the grown is turning so.

      • by Gravis Zero ( 934156 ) on Thursday May 18, 2017 @07:23PM (#54445561)

        "Scientists" might but I don't think real scientists would.

        What is alarming about moss taking advantage of warmer weather for a rapid growth splurge?

        Because this is a global issue and green absorbs heat meaning the feedback loop is going to become increasingly stronger and thus harder to break.

        There are lots of examples in nature of things that grow very slowly with an incredibly rapid ramp-up when conditions are even a tiny bit more favorable.

        Alternatte headline "warming expands zone of habitability for species".

        The problem here is that the increased warmth is destroying existing habitats. Normally these changes happen over thousands of years which results in species being able to adapt to change. However, with rapid change like this you are going to see mass extinctions happen in rapid succession because the fates of species within an ecosystem are interlinked.

        It's a headline that is equally true but one you will never see in the current climate of fear-mongering.

        The Earth's ecosystems are being destroyed and will being to collapse, so people should be afraid of what is happening. I do not believe you recognize the gravity of the situation. We are experiencing a mass extinction event in progress.

      • by fustakrakich ( 1673220 ) on Thursday May 18, 2017 @07:23PM (#54445567) Journal

        "warming expands zone of habitability for species"

        Not so much expand as shift the zone of habitability, towards the poles. There with be plenty of growth of uninhabitable desert near the equator.

        • There with be plenty of growth of uninhabitable desert near the equator.

          look at elevations near the equator... there will be growth of something.

        • by tp1024 ( 2409684 )

          Exactly how is this supposed to happen? The water cycle on earth is closed and driven by evaporation of water, which in turn is a function of temperature. The warmer it gets, the more evaporation. First because of the higher vapor pressure at higher temperatures and second because of the higher absolute moisture capacity of air.

          As a matter of fact, you can take any number of paleoclimatic studies and you will find that earth as a whole is either warm-and-moist or cold-and-dry. Of course, this is not true ev

        • That depends on what determines the zone of habitability. If its partly due to temperature and partly due to something else, like soil or day length, the change will reduce the zone of habitability.

      • The circumference of Antarctica is about 30,000km.
        So a stripe of 1mm moss at the edge is covering "edge" covers 30,000m^2. If next year that stripe is 2mm wide it is obviously 60,000m^2. Of course that is only 3 square km and 6 square km.

        Anyway, because we are talking here about mm it is not exactly a small number ...

      • Don't question the narrative, it will fall apart because it has no load-bearing arguments!
    • Not to mention, it's not alarming at all, and most people would probably rather have oil than slower moss growth. If that were the only consequence, no one would care, except the most absurd environmentalists.

      What would be alarming is if Antarctica melted. That's something everyone can understand.
      • um....it is melting.
        • um....it is melting.

          It's something that everyone can understand, but some may remain willfully ignorant.

          • Melted and melting are two different things... one day you'll learn to read and life will get better for you...

            • Melted and melting are two different things... one day you'll learn to read and life will get better for you...

              It is melting, which means it has melted. Oh, you wanted the meaning of that word to be "melted completely"? Well, sorry son, that's not how English works.

              You might be able to fly helicopters, but your poor understanding of the language won't fly here.

      • by dave420 ( 699308 )

        This is a sign that Antarctica is melting. If we waited for the bad things to finish happening instead of tackling them while we still can we won't fix anything. This moss will only make Antarctica warmer, as it has a lower albedo than the ice that used to be there.

      • What would be alarming is if Antarctica melted. That's something everyone can understand.

        I sense that you think the stable door being open isn't alarming until after all the horses have bolted [thefreedictionary.com]...

    • by necro81 ( 917438 )

      degree of concern for a +/- 2mm annual growth spurt... even if the millimeter is a measurement the voter understands

      Millimeter!? I hear they use that new-fangled metric system in commie Europe. And them Japs use it, too! And the ruskies! And those weirdos what talk funny in Australia! And the entire black continent of Africa! And China, grrrrrrn, don't even get me started on China!

      USA! USA!

  • by mattyj ( 18900 ) on Thursday May 18, 2017 @07:13PM (#54445531)

    The most surprising thing here is that Antarctica has a northern peninsula. How do you find it? Isn't the entire place 'north'?

    • by tlayne ( 20529 )

      Don't even think about the Southern Peninsula or you could create a black hole.

    • by jiriw ( 444695 )

      Antarctica is also known as the South Pole. The North Pole is also called the Arctic.

      The Arctic region does not really have peninsulas or much of any kind of land. Most of it is ocean floor and a layer of floating ice. You, maybe could have called the northern part of Greenland part of it but as far as I know the ice sheet doesn't reach that far south anymore in summer, so it's at least separated part of the year.

      Now, the Antarctic region actually is a whole group of islands, most of them connected by ice.

  • https://www.ras.org.uk/news-an... [ras.org.uk]

    About to go into a mini ice age... so get ready.

    Settled Science.

  • Has it uncovered the petrified vegetation that Antarctica used to be covered with?

  • from TFS: "on the ice continent's northern peninsula"

    Antarctica is south. As far south as you can go. There is a tiny spot called the south pole. Stand on that spot and move in any direction and you are going north. Now this 'northern peninsula' ... isn't every peninsula in Antarctica a northern peninsula?

    Likewise, there are "About 330,000" references to west Antarctica in my Google search results. Can someone please direct me to the spot on the globe that is 'west'?

    • Why don't you look at a map, and lear to read a map.
      The first poster mention this "north thing" was just nitpicking, but you behave rather dumb.

      http://wikitravel.org/en/Antar... [wikitravel.org]

      • by swell ( 195815 )

        So Mr. Smartypants Illiterate, why don't you take your brain out of your ass and look at a globe. I hope you know what that is; it's not a map; it's a sphere. Spin that globe around until you find West. Have you got it? No you don't. You can travel west until you've circled the globe and still there is more west.

        Now look at the bottom of the globe, at that big white area labelled Antarctica. Show me the part that is South (only one tiny spot), then show me the part that is North (the entire circumference of

        • You are an idiot aren't you?

          People using the maps of antarctica simply agree to the obvious.

          left is west, right is east. .what is so hard to grasp?

          • by swell ( 195815 )

            I'm sorry you are so dim. Let's forget earth for a moment. Look at the south pole of any planet. Show me where left is, Show me west. Show me north. Our planet is not unique in having a south pole. Other than specific bodies of land, ice, water and various artificial political boundaries, pretty much every planet is the same.

            I'm pretty sure a 4th grade student would understand the concept. Perhaps you are just trying to be annoying?

            • The one who is very dim is you.

              In the absence of GPS you have not much ways to define where you are and where you want to go to.

              So the "navigators" agreed on an international standard. I actually gave some links, why you are to dumb to read them is beyond me. So I give you a new one: https://www.google.com/search?... [google.com]

              Do you wonder why those pictures all look the same? And are not randomly rotated? Hu?

              I guess you don't. So I explain it to you. That are pictures, and maps look the same, where north is up, sout

              • by swell ( 195815 )

                Either your spell checker is broken or you are illiterate or both.
                I don't see your mention of 'globe' which was in the original comment.
                You keep talking of maps and artificial landmarks.
                I'm talking about the earth, not about human scribbles on a map.
                You have totally ignored the mention of other planets' geography.
                You are deliberately changing the subject.
                Please refer to the original comment before continuing.

                • I explained to you how to navigate at the poles.

                  At every planet you have to set up an agreed on system.

                  No idea what is so hard to grasp.

  • Gosh, I hope nothing unpredictable and horrible comes out of the ice with all these changes... like smallpox and anthrax that is coming out of the arctic.
    https://news.vice.com/article/... [vice.com]

    • I keep thinking about shoggoths and Old Ones and the thing from Campbell's "Who Goes There?" (the basis of the movie "The Thing", if I've got the title right).

  • I'm not saying it's aliens with knees that bend the wrong way which enables them to leap twenty feet into the air, but it's probably aliens with knees that bend the wrong way which enables them to leap twenty feet into the air.

  • I don't believe climate change is a bad thing. With the amount of damage that raw crude oil and methane does to the environment, i think that burning it is probably the cleanest thing to do with it. Sure, it's much better to leave it where it is, but the earth is changing all the time, and that crude oil may indeed make it to the surface to pollute the oceans naturally. Also, given the amount of forests we chop down and don't replace, the Arctic (and Antarctic) becoming greener, gives us some new carbon s
    • This is a perspective that some people need to learn to accept. There are those that don't care and there are those that care too much, but too few that understand that climate change is normal and that our planet is capable of sustaining itself regardless of what we do. If you look at the last century of weather data, you get one perspective, but if you look at larger sample sizes, it goes up and down based on what is needed as a reaction to everything else going on. The only reason to fight climate change

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