"We now have a baseline of where the algal blooms are and we can see whether the blooms will start increasing as the models suggest in the future", Matt Davey of the University of Cambridge's Department of Plant Sciences told Reuters.
Antarctica is changing colour as "green snow" caused by blooming algae is extensively forming and spreading throughout the region as a result of rising temperatures, a new study published by Nature Communications revealed. Because algal blooms act as a carbon sink, removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere via photosynthesis, understanding its response to climate change is important. Temperatures have already increased 1.5ºC compared to pre-industrial levels and this is likely to continue, leading to a wide set of consequences.
To better understand the effects of climate conditions on algae growth patterns, researchers constructed a large-scale map of green snow blooms.More news: Prince Charles calls for 'army of people' to help pick crops
In some areas, these single-cell life-forms are so dense, they turn the snow bright green. these can also be spotted from the space, according to the study.
A variety of researchers have reported growing algae in the "warmer areas" of the continent, including King George Island, Ryder Bay, Fildes Peninsula and Adelaide Island.
Green snow algae, Rothera Point, Antarctica 2018. 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.
In addition to the correlation between green snow blooms and warmer temperatures, researchers also found a link between coastal algae blooms and the presence of marine birds and mammals - bird excrement is rich in nutrients that fuel algae growth.More news: India central bank pledges more easing as economy set to shrink
Nearly two-thirds of the green algal blooms were found on islands around Peninsula, but these were small islands.
"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. However, in terms of mass, the majority of snow algae is found in a small number of larger blooms in the north of the Peninsula and the South Shetland Islands, in areas where they can spread to higher ground as low-lying snow melts. Over 60 per cent of the blooms they mapped were found within three miles of penguin colonies, and blooms were also often observed near where birds nest and seals hang out on the shore. A carbon sink is a reservoir that absorbs more carbon than it releases.
Above: Multi-coloured snow algae on Anchorage Island, in Antarctica.More news: Pakistan Airlines flight carrying 90 passengers crashes near Karachi airport