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Scientists have found that algae on the surface of Antarctica is spreading due to rising temperatures. The research team developed the first-ever large-scale map of green algae across the sea to track these changes.

Researchers from the United Kingdom used satellite data and compared measurements between 2017 and 2019 and then went to the continent to continue research. The algae grow along the coastline where temperatures are slightly warmer.

According to the researchers, “Warming in the Antarctic Peninsula has already exceeded 1.5 °C over pre-industrial temperatures, and current Intergovernmental Panel on Climate change (IPCC) projections indicate further global increases. Set against a background of natural decadal temperature variability,  climatic changes on the Peninsula are already influencing its vegetation.” Scientists believe the continent will eventually stop getting snow on it during the summer months.

“Even though the numbers are relatively small on a global scale, in Antarctica where you have such a small amount of plant life, that amount of biomass is highly significant,” Matt Davey from Cambridge’s Department of Plant Sciences, told AFP. “A lot of people think Antarctica is just snow and penguins. In fact when you look around the fringe there is a lot of plant life.”

See photos of algae:

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