Before Our Eyes: A mossy shore

Image credit: Matt Amesbury as reported by CNN and The Washington Post. Photo altered by me.

A ruggedly verdant scene. A lonely, mossy, wind-swept shore battered by white caps. Where in the world do you think it is? A craggy coastline of Ireland, perhaps?

Confession time: I (inexpertly) altered the photograph above. Here’s the original one:

Image credit: Matt Amesbury. Original photograph as reported by CNN and The Washington Post.

Those aren’t white caps. They’re icebergs.

Now, where do you think we are?

The western peninsula of Antarctica. Seem unnatural? If you think so, you’re right. At least, it’s unnatural compared with a similar photo that might have been taken 50 years ago or before that, which would have shown “a monochrome shot of ice.” That’s according to Dominic Hodgson, co-author of a new study of “moss cores” published in the scientific journal Current Biology.

Warming temperatures and dwindling ice, resulting from global climate change, are causing a “greening” of the western peninsula of Antarctica, where the study of a 150-year record of “moss cores” from 3 separate areas of the peninsula shows moss coverage has increased by “4 or 5 times” over the past 50 years. This creates risks of unpredictable ecological changes in Antarctica, for example, due to the growth of invasive plant species that could potentially spread there.

The greening of Antarctica parallels similar findings in the warming Arctic, where it may actually be occurring faster.

Read more: CNN, The Washington Post, Current Biology


See more changes happening Before Our Eyes.


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