Nature and climate News | Scientific ecology

Antarctica is covered by a "green snow": climate change will create green algae instead of snow

Antarctica is covered by a "green snow"

A climate change will affect the state of the Antarctic coast. The researchers from the University of Cambridge believe that very soon the coastal zones will be covered by a "green snow." The scientists have created the world's first map of microscopic algae that spread along the coast of the Antarctic Peninsula. Outwardly, it looks like a "green snow." As the air temperature rises, such anomaly of algae will capture more and more areas.

The scientists used satellite data and the results of two-year ground-based observations to conduct that research. And although each industry has microscopic dimensions, but growing in mass, these plants turn into a large-scale carpet that can cover vast territories.

Their distribution is clearly visible from space. Dr. Matt Davy from the Department of Plant Science at the University of Cambridge believes that scientists have made significant progress in understanding life in the Antarctic. Science has gained knowledge on how this area of the planet will change if climate change does not stop.

These algae have the unique ability to trap carbon dioxide from the atmosphere through photosynthesis. Thickets of green algae are now found along the entire coastline. A lot of them are on the west coast of the Antarctic Peninsula. Where the temperature rises, the algae immediately becomes more.

The scientists also found out that the distribution of that type of algae is affected by the activity of seabirds, mammals, whose excrement is a nutrient fertilizer that accelerates the growth of the algae. For example, five kilometers from the location of a small penguin colony, 60 percent more algae were found than in the place where were not any animals and birds.

Carrying out a more detailed study, the researchers found that 1679 flowering algae were identified on an area of 1.9 square kilometers. This is equivalent to an absorption of carbon of about 479 tons per year, that is the same amount of carbon that is emitted on average in 875 thousand gasoline car trips in the UK.