Much of Antarctica is covered in ice, but parts of its peninsula are instead blanketed in moss. Each year, more moss grows over the top of the previous season’s growth, providing a record of moss health over thousands of years.
Matthew Amesbury at the University of Exeter, UK, and his colleagues isolated moss-bank cores dating back 150 years from three sites across the peninsula. They found that since 1950 moss growth and accumulation have increased markedly at all sites. This shift is probably due to the increasing global temperatures associated with climate change.
Continued warming will probably trigger large-scale changes to Antarctic terrestrial ecosystems, the authors suggest.