Blanketed in white, Antarctica is a winter wonderland. Or perhaps was a winter wonderland. Antarctica is slowly turning green . The question is, why is Antarctic turning green?
Antarctica the snow covered southernmost continent is an uninhabited landmass. The continent contains the geographic south pole
and is situated in the Antarctic region of the Southern Hemisphere, almost entirely south of the Antarctic Circle, and is surrounded by the Southern Ocean. It is the least populated continent in terms of humans and vegetation.
Antarctica is the fifth largest continent in the world and 98% of it is covered in ice. Having the lowest population, it is the coldest , driest and the windiest . It is basically a polar desert.
The continent is positioned asymmetrically around the south pole and south to the Antarctic circle. This southernmost continent is surrounded by the southern Ocean( southern waters of the world ocean).
The continent has 90% of the World ice and 70% of the world fresh water source.
Why is the Antarctic turning green?
The change in colour of ice is due to the global climate change. Which has resulted in algal bloom . Algae, though microscopic when growing abundantly gives the ice a greenish colour. Antarctica has been seeing a lot of algal bloom in the recent years , so the all white ice now appears green.
The reason behind algal bloom is obviously the change in climate. Global warming is the reason behind a warmer climate this change in temperature has resulted in creating adaptable environment for the snow algae to survive.
Researchers work found 1,679 blooms of algae, covering a total area of 1.9 square kilometres which is equal to the carbon sink or the ability of the natural environment to absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere which is about 479 tonnes a year. Almost two-thirds of the green algae blooms were found on small, low lying islands around the Antarctic Peninsula and have experienced some of the most intense heating in the world, with new temperature records being set this summer.
Watch this report by “The Guardian”
A team led by researchers at the University of Cambridge in the UK and the British Antarctic Survey used satellite data and fieldwork observations to create a map of the green algae and predict future growth of the disconcerting green snow. They published their work in the journal Nature Communications on Wednesday.
The green snow appears along the coast. “They grow in ‘warmer’ areas, where average temperatures are just above zero degrees Celsius during the austral summer — the Southern Hemisphere’s summer months of November to February,” said the University of Cambridge in a release on Wednesday.
Researchers are seeing algal boom in areas of Antarctic which have temperature just above zero. The Antarctic peninsula is quickly warming up with an increase of average temperature by 3 degree Celsius in the last five decades. The coastal areas of Antarctic peninsula are the most affected with temperature change. The areas are the one which have shown an incredible growth of algae and moss, which can be seen even from space.
The total ice mass lost from the Antarctic Ice Sheet has increased from around 40 billion tons annually between 1979 and 1990, to around 252 billion tons a year between 2009 and 2017.
Scientists are currently worried with this current green and hot status of Antarctica as it could result in water level rise in the rives and water bodies and adversely affect the human habitat.
The researchers on closely studying the algal bloom have found bacteria and fungal residents. It us turning into a community with organisms supporting each others survival and growth. The growth of orange and red algae in some regions of Antarctica makes the landscape appear like a rainbow.
Well, the lockdown during Covid-19 pandemic has surely helped the environment heal but the harm humans have done to the earth in the last decades cannot be reversed with just 3 months of isolation. We need to understand that if we have to survive, the earth needs to be cared for.