A new study seems to indicate that vegetation has increased in Antarctica in the past decades due to the warming of the climate. And the trend seems to be for a greener continent. Vegetation exists on only 0,3% of the continent.
Few plants live in this frigid environment but the study of lichens shows an increased biological activity. In three areas of the continent lichens were collected deep under ground where they have been preserved for the past 150 years the analysis seem to prove that biological activity is much higher for the last 50 years.
The temperature in the area has increased about half a degree every ten years since the 1950’s. An increase in precipitations and stronger winds all point to a warming climate. With an increase in temperature the area will be more green in the future and we will see more glaciers melting away. The future of Antarctica is green, and that is not good for the planet.
This week was a great week for the marine environment around Antarctica. A deal has been made between many countries so that the world’s biggest marine reserve will be established. The protected zone will be in the Ross sea and will encompass 600,0000 square miles of ocean. The Ross Sea is a deep bay of the Southern Ocean in Antarctica, between Victoria Land and Marie Byrd Land.
Because the Ross Sea is isolated from human activities it is one of the last seas that are free from pollution and invasive species. Because of that environmentalists have focused on this sea and campaigned to have it protected.
The establishment of this reserve had to take into account that various interests among countries had to be settled. Marine conservation had to be accepted as well as a long-term fishery in the area as well as scientific interests. The Russians had been the last country to oppose the deal due to fishing rights in the area. The Ross Sea is home to species of mammals as well as birds and over 95 species of fish.
The one negative about this new marine reserve is that it is not a permanent one. A so-called sunset clause has been included. It is only a reserve for the next 35 years and if no accord is reach after that it would revert to being unprotected. For this reason it does not meet the definition of a marine protected area as it is not permanent.