Green Antarctica is happening, and climate change is the one to blame. Researchers have developed the first large-scale map of microscopic algae on the Antarctic peninsula.
A new ecosystem might occur as algae bloom and became a source of nutrition for other species. Here is what you need to know.
Antarctica Might Welcome a New Ecosystem in the Following Years
A British research team thinks the algae will increase their range in the future due to global warming. In some parts, the single-cell life-forms are so thick they turn the snow green and can be spotted from space.
Biologists from the British Antarctic Survey and the University of Cambridge spent six years discovering and analyzing the green snow algae. They utilized a combination of ground measurements and satellite data and developed the first large-scale algae map of the Antarctic peninsula. Such a map will be used to evaluate the velocity at which the continent is turning green because of the climate change.
The team already discovered the algae had made close bonds with bacteria and microscopic fungal spores. Matt Davey, one of the researchers who led the study, explained: “This could potentially form new habitats; in some places, it would be the beginning of a new ecosystem.”
He views the algae map as a missing piece of the Antarctic carbon cycle puzzle. The map recognizes up to 1.679 separate blooms of green snow algae, which collectively filled 1.9 sq km, equating to a carbon sink of almost 479 tonnes/year. It is also similar to the emissions of around 875,000 car journeys in the UK.
Moreover, approximately two-thirds of the algae were discovered on low-lying, small islands close to the peninsula. This area has witnessed some of the most extreme heating in the world. Researchers stated that in the future, they would also examine orange and red algae and measure how the presence of such colorful plants might affect the warm-reflecting albedo quality of the snow.