Green algae in Antarctica ice visible from space amid climate change
New Delhi : For the first time, microbiologists were able to capture the green ice on Antarctic coastal snow due to visible large scale algae. This happened due to climate change or global warming which led to melting of ice in the region.
In order to successfully map the surface of the coldest continent, the scientists worked extensively for six years with remote sensing technology — a combination of satellite data and ground observation.
The research has been published in the journal Nature Communications. The research shows how the melting snow has created the perfect slushy conditions in the peninsula that allow these single-cell life-forms to thrive, making the surface of the Antarctic floor appear green.
The scientists were able to identify 1,679 different blooms of green snow algae covering an expanse of 1.9 square kilometres — this denotes a carbon sink of almost 479 tonnes a year, which is equivalent to emissions from about 875,000 car journeys.
Meanwhile, the scientists are hopeful that the climate change will result in creating a new source of nutrition for other species. “It’s a community. This could potentially form new habitats. In some place, it would be the beginning of a new ecosystem,” Matt Davey, plant and algal physiologist at the Department of Plant Sciences at the Cambridge University, who was involved in the study, told The Guardian.
In the future, the researchers intend to measure the red and orange algae forms. “I think we will get more large blooms in the future. Before we know whether this has a significant impact on carbon budgets or bio albedo, we need to run the numbers,” Andrew Gray from Cambridge University, the lead author of the paper, said.
Currently, some parts in the Antarctica have such dense green algae that it can be easily seen from the space. And, the scientists believe that with global warming on the rise, the algae blooms will expand their range in the future making the white continent even greener.