Antarctica is losing its ice with each passing year, and this favors the proliferation of flowers and plants. In 2022, researchers at the University of Washington recorded the largest heat wave to ever hit Antarctica. In March last year, experts found that peaks of 39°C above normal were reached near the South Pole, to the point of forcing researchers working in that area to wear spring clothing.
Edward Blanchard-Wrigglesworth, an atmospheric scientist and first author of a paper published by the Washington University team, told the Washington Post: "This was the warmest temperature anomaly recorded anywhere in the world."
The spread of flora over time will only cause an irreversible loss of biodiversity in Antarctica.
Dr. Jasmine Lee, who had already anticipated the prediction in 2022, now says: "The new ice-free areas, warmer temperatures and available water will create new habitats ripe for colonization, which will benefit some species and not others."
Furthermore, the spread of alien species, both animal and plant, could jeopardize the lives of the only native species that have survived in Antarctica so far.
There is no time to sit back and watch and experts from all over the world are working to understand how the Antarctic habitat could evolve and change but, above all, how to preserve its characteristics for the future.
The models developed by the research team at Washington University predict that the ice-free lands on the Antarctic peninsula will triple by the end of the century and that, consequently, plants could colonize them by spreading massively.
Climatic conditions and poor soil are limiting factors for the development of vegetation which is made up almost exclusively of mosses, liverworts and lichens. The only angiosperm plants that grow in Antarctica are Deschampsia antarctica and Colobanthus quitensis; these plants form grassy tufts between the rocks near the coast on the western coast of the Antarctic peninsula.
Human activities have allowed the entry of another angiosperm: Poa Annua L., an invasive cosmopolitan species that creeps into habitats disturbed by humans