Plant growth has accelerated in Antarctica due to climate change, indicating a serious threat to the region’s fragile ecosystem. An article with the findings of Italian researchers was published in a journal in the journal Current Biology.
It is noted that previously similar phenomena were observed in the northern hemisphere, but in Antarctica they were recorded for the first time.
Scientists from the University of Insubria analyzed the growth of two of the only flowering plants found in Antarctica − Deschampsia antarctica and Colobanthus quitnsis, at a number of sites on Signy Island from 2009 to 2019.
Comparison of the results obtained with studies conducted over the previous 50 years showed that plants not only covered the area more densely, but also grew faster as the climate warmed.
In ten years of research, Deschampsia grew as much as it did between 1960 and 2009, while Colobanthus − five times more.
Despite the fact that plant growth may have been affected by a decline in the fur seal population, scientists point to an obvious connection between the phenomenon and global warming.
It is emphasized that an increase in temperature will allow invasive species to colonize the ecosystem of Antarctica and disrupt its biodiversity.
Scientists suggest that the situation on Signy Island may develop in other regions of the South Pole. This indicates a direct threat to the continent’s unique environment.