A new study on Antarctica finds the large area of algae increasing as the temperature rises
Warmer temperatures in the normally icy continent of Antarctica provide “green snow”.
A new report from the University of Cambridge, England, shows that global warming has caused green algae to spread across the continent to such an extent that it can be seen from space.
The existence of the algae in Antarctica has long been known, but the extent of them has only been documented now.
Using satellite images from the “Sentinel 2” satellite of the European Space Administration (ESA) and land observations over two years, scientists have created a map of the distribution of algae.
“Now we have a starting point for where the algae bloom, and we can see if the flowering will increase in the future, as our calculations show,” Matt Davey, one of the researchers behind the report, told Reuters.
Moss and lichens are the dominant photosynthetic organisms in the Antarctic, but the new research found 1679 separate blooms of algae, which is a crucial part of the continent’s ability to absorb CO2 into the atmosphere.
However, it is far from enough to make a difference between a large amount of CO2 that is released into the atmosphere, says Matt Davey.
– The algae absorb CO2 equivalent to what 875,000 petrol cars emit in the UK on average in a year.
– It sounds like a lot, but it’s insignificant when you look at global carbon emissions, says Matt Davey.
In addition to green algae, there are also red and orange algae in Antarctica, say the researchers, who will try to map them. However, they are harder to see from space, making the process more difficult.
On February 9, Brazilian scientists measured 20.75 degrees on the island of Seymour Island off the northern part of the Antarctic Peninsula, the AFP news agency writes.
It was the first time ever that the temperature exceeded 20 degrees around the normally icy continent.
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