Climate Change

Greening the Antarctic

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Science  02 Jun 2017:
Vol. 356, Issue 6341, pp. 919-920
DOI: 10.1126/science.356.6341.919-c

Antarctic moss banks show increased biological activity consistent with the effects of warming temperatures.

PHOTO: CARLOS FAIRBAIRN

The ecological consequences of climate change in the polar regions are becoming increasingly evident. A study in the Antarctic now shows how terrestrial vegetation may be responding to rising temperatures. Amesbury et al. analyzed peat cores spanning the past 150 years from moss banks in the western Antarctic Peninsula. Multiple proxies in the cores—including carbon isotope discrimination, populations of testate amoebae, and the balance of moss growth and decomposition—are indicative of an increase in biological activity over the past 50 years, coinciding with the increasing rate of temperature rise. This activity is likely to lead to further greening in the Antarctic, as is already evident in Arctic landscapes.

Curr. Biol. 27, 1 (2017).

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