Expanding 'Green Snow' in Antarctica Due to Global Warming Could Harm Biodiversity

A study revealed that "green snow" could cover large regions in Antarctica due to global warming.

In a new study, a team of researchers revealed that 'green snow' could cover large portions of Antarctica due to the rising global temperatures caused by climate change. The researchers noted that this could affect the natural habitats of animals in the region.

The study regarding the 'green snow' was conducted by researchers from the U.K using ground observations and satellite data. Their findings were presented in a new paper published in the journal Nature Communications.

Antarctica Pixabay

Formation Of Green Snow

According to the researchers, the 'green snow' appearing in patches along the Antarctic Peninsula was actually triggered by algal blooms. These usually appear as algae form on top of the snow in areas that have warmer temperatures. Records indicate that algal blooms in the Antarctic usually appear between November and February.

Algal blooms play a huge role in the regulation of carbon dioxide. It removes carbon dioxide in the atmosphere through a process known as photosynthesis. However, since algal blooms tend to cover large spaces, they tend to affect the natural habitats of certain animals.

Expanding Algal Blooms

In a recent study, researchers identified over 1,500 algal blooms across Antarctica. Based on current data, the algal blooms might expand further north due to the increasing global temperatures. If global warming continues, the researchers noted that more algal blooms might appear in Antarctica. Their presence over land could affect the natural habitats of certain animals, such as bird colonies in the region.

"Bloom area and elevation were observed to increase at lower latitudes, suggesting that parallel expansion of bloom area on larger landmasses, close to bird or seal colonies, is likely," the researchers wrote in their study.

Algal Blooms
Algal blooms in the Baltic Sea ESA

Effect of Green Snow on Biodiversity

As noted by the researchers, since algal blooms in Antarctica are happening over land instead of bodies of water, a significant loss of snow could occur in the region. Also, the presence of large patches of algae could limit the areas where animals can live in.

"With multiple and often unknown species recorded within patches of green snow algae, and little known about the dispersal mechanisms, life cycles and plasticity of snow algal species, losses from these islands could represent a reduction of terrestrial diversity for the Antarctic Peninsula," the researchers wrote in their study.

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