Even during the global pandemic, the effects of climate change are devastating. While the amount of CO2 gases released into the atmosphere decreased significantly, that’s not enough to stop let alone reverse the effects of climate change. Recently, scientists conducting studies in Antarctica discovered the snow turning green. The change is caused by microscopic algae blooming across the surface of the snow. This algae is quickly spreading across the continent during the summer months when temperatures reach temperatures of 32 degrees or higher. What does this change signal for climate change? Here are some of the recent changes in climate change in Antarctica and what they mean.
Scientists recently uncovered that the algae populating on top of the ice in Antarctica are able to act as a carbon sink. The algae can absorb up to 500 tons of carbon. For comparison, that would be enough to power 20 homes. How do algae absorb carbon? Algae consume carbon through photosynthesis. Photosynthesis also allows algae to collect more heat from the sun and darken the snow beneath.
Penguins and some species of birds frequent or live on the continent. Due to the ice melting around Antarctica, these animals may find it problematic to survive and reproduce. Their excrements act as fertilizer for the algae. Many bird species already experience a grave danger to themselves. Since the population of birds is on the decline, the algae will be affected. Since the algae rely on the nutrients from the feces of birds, growth, and expansion across the antarctic ice shelf may stall. In addition to the ice melting, many penguins are looking for alternative places to survive and reproduce. This migration will have an adverse effect on the algae and the various seals that hunt penguins.