Oh noes! Antarctica 'greening' due to climate change

From the “greening of the planet must be a bad thing” department and the UNIVERSITY OF EXETER comes this breathless missive. Note: one species of moss is not equal to the implied “all plant life” in their sub-headline. Additionally, sampling only three sites isn’t necessarily a representative sample of Antarctica.


Antarctica ‘greening’ due to climate change

Plant life on Antarctica is growing rapidly due to climate change, scientists have found.

This is a Green Island moss bank with icebergs. CREDIT Matt Amesbury

Few plants live on the continent, but scientists studying moss have found a sharp increase in biological activity in the last 50 years. A team including scientists from the University of Exeter used moss bank cores — which are well preserved in Antarctica’s cold conditions — from an area spanning about 400 miles.

They tested five cores from three sites and found major biological changes had occurred over the past 50 years right across the Antarctic Peninsula.

“Temperature increases over roughly the past half century on the Antarctic Peninsula have had a dramatic effect on moss banks growing in the region,” said Dr Matt Amesbury, of the University of Exeter.

“If this continues, and with increasing amounts of ice-free land from continued glacier retreat, the Antarctic Peninsula will be a much greener place in the future.”

Recent climate change on the Antarctic Peninsula is well documented, with warming and other changes such as increased precipitation and wind strength.

Weather records mostly began in the 1950s, but biological records preserved in moss bank cores can provide a longer-term context about climate change.

The scientists analysed data for the last 150 years, and found clear evidence of “changepoints” – points in time after which biological activity clearly increased — in the past half century.

“The sensitivity of moss growth to past temperature rises suggests that ecosystems will alter rapidly under future warming, leading to major changes in the biology and landscape of this iconic region,” said Professor Dan Charman, who led the research project in Exeter. “In short, we could see Antarctic greening to parallel well-established observations in the Arctic.

“Although there was variability within our data, the consistency of what we found across different sites was striking.” The research team, which included scientists from the University of Cambridge and British Antarctic Survey, say their data indicate that plants and soils will change substantially even with only modest further warming.

The same group of researchers published a study focussing on one site in 2013, and the new research confirms that their unprecedented finding can be applied to a much larger region.

Plant life only exists on about 0.3% of Antarctica, but the findings provide one way of measuring the extent and effects of warming on the continent.

The paper, published in the journal Current Biology, is entitled: “Widespread biological response to rapid warming on the Antarctic Peninsula.”

The research was funded by the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC).

The researchers now plan to examine core records dating back over thousands of years to test how much climate change affected ecosystems before human activity started causing global warming.


Th paper:


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May 18, 2017 1:03 pm

From the article: ““Temperature increases over roughly the past half century on the Antarctic Peninsula have had a dramatic effect on moss banks growing in the region,” said Dr Matt Amesbury, of the University of Exeter.”
What temperature increases?

Reply to  TA
May 18, 2017 1:39 pm

What temperature increases? How about temperature decreases? link

Bryan A
Reply to  commieBob
May 18, 2017 2:21 pm

Anyone know why “Green Island” is called Green Island?

Reply to  commieBob
May 18, 2017 2:39 pm

Moss? Anbody know when it was so named?

Reply to  commieBob
May 18, 2017 6:16 pm

Dunno, but it was already designated a protected area because of its luxuriant growth and nesting birds in 1966.
Also, its latitude is 65° 19’ S, so not even technically Antarctic (66° 33ʹ).
Wonderful that more plant food in the air has stimulated even more greenery there, as in most other places on our CO2-starved planet.

Reply to  commieBob
May 18, 2017 6:17 pm
Pop Piasa
Reply to  commieBob
May 18, 2017 6:33 pm

Maybe moss should be called agro-shag…

Pop Piasa
Reply to  commieBob
May 18, 2017 6:35 pm

How about Chia Grass?

Reply to  commieBob
May 19, 2017 12:24 am

“Moss? Anbody know when it was so named?”
17 September 1929.
When Sir Stirling was born. No one had heard of the stuff before he started winning in F1. 🙂
[That almosst the worst pun on this page. .mod]

Jay Hope
Reply to  commieBob
May 20, 2017 12:52 am

Yes, temps are decreasing in Antartica. But even if it were greening, it’s happened before and had nothing to do with humans.

Reply to  TA
May 18, 2017 1:39 pm

Must be the same temperature increases that caused them to change the name to Green Island from White Island because global warming scientists know that mosses don’t consume CO2 during photosynthesis.

John M. Ware
Reply to  SC
May 18, 2017 5:09 pm

From the article: Plant life is now found on 1/333 of the continent. I’m sure that an increase from 1/333 to 1/250 of the continent (.4%) would be seen as a huge, not to say catastrophic, increase. For my part, save the panic until you can plant–let’s say–pansies successfully on the peninsula. (I know that a pansy is a symbol for weakness and ineffectiveness, but the pansy is the only plant I have grown here that withstands below-zero F temperatures and will bloom the day after a -3 night; in other words, pansy plants are tough, and might even like Antarctica if there is suitable soil.)

Reply to  SC
May 18, 2017 5:13 pm

Here (in part) is what Wikipedia has say about moss:
“Recent research show that ancient moss could explain why the Ordovician ice ages occurred. When the ancestors of today’s moss started to spread on land 470 million years ago, they absorbed CO2 from the atmosphere and extracted minerals by secreting organic acids that dissolved the rocks they were growing on. These chemically altered rocks in turn reacted with the atmospheric CO2 and formed new carbonate rocks in the ocean through the weathering of calcium and magnesium ions from silicate rocks. The weathered rocks also released a lot of phosphorus and iron which ended up in the oceans, where it caused massive algal blooms, resulting in organic carbon burial, extracting more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Small organisms feeding on the nutrients created large areas without oxygen, which caused a mass extinction of marine species, while the levels of CO2 dropped all over the world, allowing the formation of ice caps on the poles.”

Reply to  SC
May 19, 2017 6:21 am

Marv, as always Wikipedia starts with the assumption that CO2 is the control knob for the climate and works backwards from there.
The reality is that dropping CO2 levels from 5000ppm to under 1000ppm has an impact on global temperatures so small as to be almost unmeasurable.

Reply to  SC
May 19, 2017 9:48 am

CO2 fell from its Cambrian highs long before the Ordovician-Silurian glaciation. It hardly changed across the Silurian boundary, since the ice age didn’t last long.
Warmunistas trying to pin the ice age on lowered CO2 hypothesize that it briefly fell below 3000 ppm but not long enough to show up in proxy data. They claim that with a four percent weaker sun, that was sufficiently low to start glaciation.
I’m not buying it. More likely it was plate tectonics.
CO2 gained a bit after the short ice age ended. With more land plants, CO2 dropped later in the Silurian and Devonian, without causing an ice age. It fell more, down to current levels in fact, as a result of the long Carboniferous-Permian ice age, not as its cause.comment image

Reply to  SC
May 20, 2017 6:42 pm

John M. Ware: I took pictures of pansies blooming in the snow and sub-freezing temperatures last October and thought that was unusual. Apparently I was mistaken! Thanks for the info!

Reply to  TA
May 18, 2017 2:30 pm

It’s more likely the increase in CO2 which caused the sharp increase in biological activity.

Pop Piasa
Reply to  co2isnotevil
May 18, 2017 5:47 pm

My thoughts also, but I don’t usually study mosses unless they displace pasture grasses. Easiest to turn them under and replant .

Reply to  TA
May 18, 2017 2:43 pm

Antarctic Peninsula.
That sticky out bit that has a similar latitude South that the Southern shores of Iceland do [North].
Not actually inside the Antarctic Circle.

Pop Piasa
Reply to  Auto
May 18, 2017 5:58 pm

Oh, the same peninsula that foehn winds have caused to warm frequently in the past?
Yet why does moss mainly grow on the north side of a tree (in the NH)? Because it’s cooler there.
If abnormal warming occurs there, shouldn’t the mosses that are in direct sun die off?

Reply to  Auto
May 19, 2017 8:46 am

“Not actually inside the Antarctic Circle.”
No, but it is plenty arctic all the same. As a matter of fact it is a lot more heavily glaciated and barren than e. g. Spitzbergen at 80 degrees latitude.However it isn’t high arctic which means that temperature does rise above freezing in summer, so there is some plant life (two species of flowering plants and a number of mosses).

Reply to  TA
May 18, 2017 3:33 pm

It has not warmed. This whole article contradicts itself. It starts by saying the area is warming then later it says this : ‘The team also used models to explore what the future might hold for the continent, taking into account recent research that has suggested that the peninsula has cooled, albeit temporarily, in recent years as a result of changes in wind patterns.’
In any case, the whole study is rendered worthless by the phrase ‘The team also used models…’

Chris Hanley
Reply to  Sasha
May 18, 2017 9:13 pm

“… taking into account recent research that has suggested that the peninsula has cooled, albeit temporarily …”.
LOL, who needs data collection when you have soothsayers on staff.

Reply to  Sasha
May 19, 2017 1:56 am

bas joined the bandwagon to get on the taxpayer funding teat a long time ago. this is just one in a list of papers full of contradictory nonsense.

Reply to  TA
May 18, 2017 7:33 pm

The temperature rises that made the ice melt that used to be there, now there is green stuff.

Reply to  TA
May 19, 2017 10:06 am

The wonderful nature of CO2 is that it makes plants more tolerant of both higher and lower temperatures relative to their normal temperature range. Spring flowers in the UK are two weeks earlier not because of any warming—there has been none—but because of the great benefits of more CO2 that allows them to bloom at lower temperatures in the Spring.
Higher CO2 also makes plants in general more efficient with water and nutrients.

Tom Halla
May 18, 2017 1:04 pm

First, warming is a bad thing? Second, the Antarctic Peninsula is rather far north, so no big deal.

Reply to  Tom Halla
May 18, 2017 2:34 pm

Spot on. It is not part of the contiguous part of the Antarctic continent. The epitome of the problem is that climate changes. The discussion is what causes the climate to change.
Any theory has to take into consideration at least, solar variation, cosmic ray variation, precession of the Earths’ axis, precession of the Earths’ orbit. Even with these few variables a chaotic system will develop. Even a double pendulum with all known parameters, and excluding air resistance, will become chaotic within a few cycles. The miracle is that The Earths’ climate achieves stasis for millions of years allowing life to develop and evolve is truly astounding.
A bit of incremental moss growth on sub Antarctica islands is of no great portent.

Reply to  London247
May 18, 2017 2:50 pm

London 247
Plus lots.
Add cloud cover and albedo change; tectonics; and, perhaps albedo change due to weather/climate change [and I think everyone here accepts that climate changes [if not necessarily due to human-effects]], and we do certainly tend to a chaotic situation.
Which has been the case for hundreds of years; hundreds of thousands of years; and – most probably [as Trilobites have left no evidence of using millions of SUVs] – hundreds of millions of years.

tony mcleod
Reply to  London247
May 18, 2017 5:57 pm

So dumping 30 Gt of CO2 into the atmophere in a geological pulse shouldn’t do anything. And what it does will be beneficial. Hmm… I hope you’re right.

Reply to  London247
May 18, 2017 5:59 pm

That it has been beneficial is objective reality. That is, if you, as would any sane person, think that greening the planet is a good thing.
OTOH, there is zero evidence of any negative consequences. Were we not already enriching the air with more plant food, we would be well advised to do so.

tony mcleod
Reply to  London247
May 18, 2017 10:10 pm

Didn’t you read London247’s comment?

Reply to  London247
May 19, 2017 2:31 am

More settled science from sceptics.

Reply to  London247
May 19, 2017 6:23 am

McClod, there is no evidence it’s harmful.
In fact for most of the time life existed on this planet, CO2 levels were 10 times higher than they are today and life thrived.

Reply to  London247
May 19, 2017 6:24 am

Pointing out that the earth’s climate is a chaotic system. That is settled science now isn’t it.
Mosh, do you have anything relevant to say. For once?

Reply to  Tom Halla
May 19, 2017 12:38 am

tony mcleod:
You ask

Didn’t you read London247’s comment?

I read it, and I agree with London247 that

A bit of incremental moss growth on sub Antarctica islands is of no great portent.

The comment of London247 is clearly true. Why do you cite it.?

Joe - the non climate scientist
May 18, 2017 1:08 pm

“The researchers now plan to examine core records dating back over thousands of years to test how much climate change affected ecosystems before human activity started causing global warming.”
Prior to Circa 1850, there was a cooling trend of approx 1c per century, circa 1850 there was a shift to a warming trend of approx 1.0c per century, – effectively a 2.0c per century change in the rate of warming/cooling. We are currently at a rate of 1.5c per century (a high estimate).
Can anyone explain why going from 280 to 282 ppm of CO2 causes more warming than going from 300 to 400ppm?

Reply to  Joe - the non climate scientist
May 18, 2017 1:51 pm

So . . . about halfway out of the LIA things started looking up for moss in the Antarctic? Can’t say I’m surprised.

Janice Moore
Reply to  Pam Uphoff
May 18, 2017 2:33 pm


Reply to  Joe - the non climate scientist
May 18, 2017 2:00 pm

As we know, warming is dependent on the natural log of the opacity recently. During the period of which you speak climate seancetists believe that it was dependent on the unnatural log of the opacity.

Leonard Lane
Reply to  Joe - the non climate scientist
May 18, 2017 3:17 pm

From this source, looks like it has been cooling for ~ the past couple of decades.
May 18, 2017 at 1:39 pm
What temperature increases? How about temperature decreases? link
More cherry picking of data and deceptive description of locations of sampling.
So sounds like the same old warn out tune: Help our funding may be going down, sound the alarms!
Jonova has a nice short article on this publication as well. http://joannenova.com.au/

John Harmsworth
Reply to  Joe - the non climate scientist
May 19, 2017 8:52 pm

That’s a good question! One might expect an answer from Tony M or Mosher but no sir! Crickets, baby, crickets!

James at 48
May 18, 2017 1:13 pm

Ahem …. much of the Antarctic Peninsula is subarctic. Think Alaska. Of course, with the general population having next to zero geographical awareness, they imagine all of Antarctica is > 80 degrees S.

Reply to  James at 48
May 18, 2017 1:47 pm

Pedant Alert! None of Antarctica is in the northern hemisphere so none of it is subarctic.

Reply to  commieBob
May 18, 2017 1:58 pm

Technically, would not everything in the southern hemisphere be “subarctic” then? 8<)
But any part of the southern continent under ice be sub-antarctic? 8<)

Reply to  commieBob
May 19, 2017 12:22 am

Sub-Antarctic, then?

Reply to  commieBob
May 19, 2017 10:50 am

LarryD May 19, 2017 at 12:22 am
Sub-Antarctic, then?

It’s a thing. subantarctic

Reply to  commieBob
May 19, 2017 11:04 am


Reply to  James at 48
May 18, 2017 1:56 pm

Well, er … uhm. No.
The Antarctic continent is 14,000,000 sq km’s. (Mkm^2 for short.)
The permanent ice shelves around much of Antarctica are 1.5 Mkm^2. They are NOT included in the published Sea Ice areas each day, by the way.
The Antarctic sea ice varies between 2.5 Mkm^2 and 14 to 18 Mkm^2.
Add them up (14.0 + 14 + 1.5 ) = 29.5 Mkm^2
An area at maximum sea ice larger than all other land masses in the southern hemisphere. Put together. (Remember, you have to cut Africa off at the equator, and cut off the small north tip of South America.)
From total area, you can calculate the latitude of the edge of the icecap. That is what matters if you are looking at albedo and heat absorption down there.
So, the latitude at the average edge of the Antarctic Ice follows:

02-Jan	002	1408	-67.0
12-Jan	012	1407	-67.7
02-Feb	033	1401	-68.6
12-Feb	043	1396	-68.7
22-Feb	053	1390	-68.7
02-Mar  061	1385	-68.5
12-Mar	071	1378	-68.3
22-Mar	081	1371	-68.0
02-Apr	092	1362	-67.6
12-Apr	102	1355	-67.1
22-Apr	112	1347	-66.7
02-May	122	1340	-66.2
12-May	132	1334	-65.7
22-May	142	1328	-65.2
02-Jun	153	1323	-64.6
12-Jun	163	1320	-64.1
22-Jun	173	1317	-63.7
02-Jul	183	1316	-63.3
12-Jul	193	1317	-62.9
22-Jul	203	1318	-62.5
02-Aug	214	1321	-62.2
12-Aug	224	1325	-62.0
22-Aug	234	1330	-61.8
02-Sep	245	1337	-61.6
12-Sep	255	1344	-61.6
22-Sep	265	1351	-61.6
02-Oct	275	1359	-61.6
12-Oct	285	1366	-61.8
22-Oct	295	1374	-62.0
02-Nov	306	1382	-62.4
12-Nov	316	1389	-62.9
22-Nov	326	1395	-63.5
02-Dec	336	1400	-64.2
12-Dec	346	1404	-65.0
22-Dec	356	1406	-66.0
Reply to  James at 48
May 19, 2017 9:03 am

“much of the Antarctic Peninsula is subarctic. Think Alaska. ”
Think Point Barrow you mean. Though summers are considerably warmer in Point Barrow. The peninsula has an extremely maritime arctic climate with only moderately cold winters but very cool summers. There isn’t actually anything closely similar in the northern hemisphere. If you take an Anchorage winter and stretch it a month or two and add a Point Barrow summer that you have cooled by 2-3 degrees centigrade you would get something similar.

Reply to  James at 48
May 19, 2017 9:07 am

And by the way, climatically and biologically anything south of the Antarctic Convergence is usually considered as being Antarctic.

May 18, 2017 1:17 pm

If one tree can represent the whole world, surely three sites can be representative of the entire Antarctic continent.

Reply to  MarkW
May 19, 2017 12:37 am

First chuckle of the day

May 18, 2017 1:22 pm

” … before human activity started causing global warming.”
Links to proof ?
Thought not.

Reply to  Oldseadog
May 18, 2017 2:08 pm

OSD. Great comment. The killer soundbites:
1. Except for a now rapidly cooling 2015-16 El Nino blip, it has not warmed this century except by Karlization. Yet this century comprises ~ 35% of the toyal rise in atmospheric CO2 since 1958 (onset Keeling curve).
2. The warming ~1920-1945 is essentially indistinguishable from the warming ~1975-2000. (It cooled in between.) IPCC AR4 WG1 SPM figure 8.2 says the earlier period was mostly natural; not enough rise in CO2 to explain the warming. Well, natural variation did not magically stop in 1975— as the lack of warming since 2000 proves.
So, two disproofs rather than just a lack of proof.

Reply to  ristvan
May 18, 2017 4:00 pm

This junk about warming starting in 1975 is there only because IPCC falsified temperatures between 1979 and 1997. The eighties and nineties, from 1979 to 1997, were a hiatus period, very clearly sshown in figure 15 of my book “What Warming?” What IPCC did was to transmogrify it, after I put it into my book, into a false warming period. But they were not satisfied with just that but carried the false warming on into the 21st century. As a result, both the El Nino of 2010 and the El Nino of 2016 now stand taller than the super El Nino of 1998 does. This is is absurd. The height of the super El Nino, when compared to the ENSO system El Ninos, is almost twice as high. Checxk it out yourself. There are rive of those El Ninos from ENSO on the left side of latest satellite temperature graph published by UAH, They are followed immediately by the super El Nino of 1998.. The 1998 towers above all of them.

richard verney
Reply to  ristvan
May 19, 2017 9:13 pm

And what of the 1860 to 1880 warming which is also statistically indistinguishable from the two warming periods cited by you.
The 1860 to 1880 warming was not caused by CO2 since there was not enough CO2 to explain the warming.
Thus 3 disproofs rather than the 2 noted by you.
See: .Phil Jones of CRU, http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/8511670.stm

Do you agree that according to the global temperature record used by the IPCC, the rates of global warming from 1860-1880, 1910-1940 and 1975-1998 were identical?
Here are the trends and significances for each period:
Period Length Trend
(Degrees C per decade) Significance
1860-1880 21 0.163 Yes
1910-1940 31 0.15 Yes
1975-1998 24 0.166 Yes
1975-2009 35 0.161 Yes

May 18, 2017 1:44 pm

And it is a ever-greening catastrophic death (er, life) spiral! !
More CO2 => More plant life in more areas, spreading broader, ever-wider area of green leaves and dark branches!
More plant life in more areas with more leaves => A darker, more energy-absorbing mass in Antarctica
A darker, more energy-absorbing mass in Antarctica => More heat absorbed!
More heat absorbed! = > Longer growing seasons, and more plant growth in that growing season!
Oh noes! More allergies! More dust and pollen on the ice cap! More ice cap melting! More sea level rise each minute!

M Courtney
May 18, 2017 1:56 pm

So deserts are greening.
That’s CO2 fertilisation for you.

May 18, 2017 2:00 pm

The penninsula isn’t really Antarctica. In fact the part closest to the Drake passage isn’t even inside the Antarctic circle. That some moss grows there is about as exciting as observing the Canadian Arctic has tundra, which also includes moss.

tony mcleod
Reply to  ristvan
May 18, 2017 2:53 pm

Probably be a habitable, temperate island if there was no iceshelf.
[And if Antarctica were further north, ships could moor, and on-load all that newly exposed coal and minerals now under the icecap. .mod]

tony mcleod
Reply to  tony mcleod
May 18, 2017 3:33 pm

No, you can’t trick me like that. If Antactica was further north, we’d drown.
[The mods, being the mods that we are, would have bought the mountain-top beach-view cabana’s on the atoll around the central tropical Antarctic sea … Before the prices went up! .mod]

Reply to  tony mcleod
May 18, 2017 7:40 pm

So Tony, are you unable to climb up a few metres as sea level rises? The only thing that will drown are things that are nailed down. How many old villages lie under the oceans even now? No one is going to drown but great image. LOL

Reply to  tony mcleod
May 19, 2017 6:28 am

Wayne, tony won’t move until his handlers tell him to move.

Reply to  tony mcleod
May 19, 2017 9:20 am

“Probably be a habitable, temperate island if there was no iceshelf”
You haven’t been there have you? No ice-shelves (to speak of) on the western side of the peninsula. But it is plenty arctic. Very heavily glaciated and it is difficult to find any place in the northern hemisphere with as cold summers, though Cape Chelyuskin comes close.

John Harmsworth
Reply to  tony mcleod
May 19, 2017 9:01 pm

Tony is the modern day anti-Canute! If the sea won’t rise to him,he will sink to any level nec!essary

tony mcleod
Reply to  tony mcleod
May 20, 2017 1:26 am

I think if got a bit of warm water circulating around the island it might not be that bad.

May 18, 2017 2:01 pm

Here’s a copy of the actual study. You can peruse it when you get the chances. http://www.cell.com/current-biology/fulltext/S0960-9822(17)30478-5
The three new sites range in latitudes from 65.3 to 61.1 degrees. These are subarctic (sub-Antarctic?). They not inside the Antarctic Circle (which begins at ~66.56 degrees south.) The prior study location (Lazarev Bay) was inside the Antarctic Circle. Here is that study, http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0960982213008348
If I read them correctly, the data looks very variable. For instance, this is a chart of the estimated growth rates, by year. In most cases, there was a spike in the microbial growth rates around 1960 and it has tapered off since then. It’s almost like the largest cause of the microbial growth rates was the settlement of the peninsula with scientific test stations. They draw lines to “help” us see the trends — the carbon 13 plots seem very strange to me.
They provide convenient box & whisker plots, conveniently segmented to “Pre- and Post-1950”. The variability of the post-1950 data is so high, that you could conclude that this is not a reliable method for determination of warming. In fact, the average Carbon 13 data shifts in the wrong direction.

Reply to  lorcanbonda
May 18, 2017 2:12 pm

Nice catch. So the new moss sites are not even within the Antarctic circle (I double checked that datum– you are precisely correct). They may as well have studied the moss at Tierra del Fuego in Argentina on the other side of the Drake passage.

Reply to  ristvan
May 19, 2017 9:32 am

Usually you are percipient ristvan, but here you are dead wrong. The Peninsula and surrounding islands are most definitely arctic, even though north of the (ant)arctic circle. More so than most arctic areas in the northern hemisphere as a matter of fact. Don’t get hung up on the “arctic circle” term. There are large arctic areas south of the arctic circle in the northern hemisphere too, much of Greenland and Baffins Land for example. On the other hand you can grow strawberries commercially north of the arctic circle in Scandinavia.
The natural border of Antarctica is the Antarctic Convergence. The difference in wildlife and climate when you cross it is quite striking.

Robert W Turner
Reply to  lorcanbonda
May 18, 2017 2:18 pm

I think there is probably an error in their methodology somewhere. The soils on the peninsula date back thousands of years, yet they show almost no growth until 1950.
The whole notion that you can use biologic markers from 5 cores in three locations to describe the climate of a region is spurious. That’s like saying a soil core in Kansas is going to give you a high resolution reconstruction of the climate in Alberta. The soil core will yield different results just feet apart, let alone across the entire AP. Looking at a soil core to determine regional conditions is like trying to view a 3D world through 2D lenses.

Robert W Turner
Reply to  Robert W Turner
May 18, 2017 2:22 pm

But let’s assume for just one second they are correct. They’ve just shown that the AP was too cold for moss during the early 20th century, let alone the LIA, so yet more proof that the MWP and LIA were real and global in scope.

Reply to  Robert W Turner
May 18, 2017 2:30 pm

RT, in general agree. Depends on how homogenous the soils and weather are at those sites. Note the steep terrain pictured. Steep usually means NOT homogenous, for obvious reasons like gravity and lapse rates.

Reply to  Robert W Turner
May 18, 2017 6:00 pm

A little more digging into Bryophyte Ecology, finds that this study has a basic correlation=causation fallacy.
Bryophytes are “an informal group consisting of three divisions of non-vascular land plants, the liverworts, hornworts and mosses.” There is a free Bryophyte Ecology Encyclopedia by Janice Glime available on the Internet (and it is massive.) http://digitalcommons.mtu.edu/bryophyte-ecology/
That book makes it clear that Bryophytes have a strong response to Carbon Dioxide concentrations: There is an entire section on carbon dioxide, but the gist of it is that the growth rate increases with carbon dixide concentration.

“Furthermore, the concentration gradient from the atmosphere to the carboxylase in the plant would further drive CO2 into the plant (Raven & Edwards 2014). This additional CO2 would permit higher photosynthetic rates per surface area of plant.”

The goal of this paper is to show the relationship between temperature and moss growth rates. The conclusion in the abstract is “We show that growth rates and microbial productivity have risen rapidly since the 1960s, consistent with temperature changes [5], although recently they may have stalled [2]. The recent increase in terrestrial plant growth rates and soil microbial activity are unprecedented in the last 150 years and are consistent with climate change.”

Except it is more consistent with carbon dioxide increases, not temperature changes. Bryophyte Ecology even suggests that such mosses can be a mitigating factor for carbon dioxide emissions.

In 1958, the CO2 in the atmosphere had a concentration of 315 ppm (Scripps CO2 Program 2016). In December 2016 it had grown to 404 ppm. Elbert et al. (2012) estimated that cryptogams (including Cyanobacteria, algae, fungi, lichens, and bryophytes) extract ~3.9 Pg carbon per year, or around 7% of the net production of terrestrial vegetation. Thus, the CO2 uptake by bryophytes is an important component of global carbon cycling and a necessary contributor to climate modelling.

The encyclopedia also discusses temperature, but it is much more complex. The growing rates will normally increase with temperature, but so will the competing species. Here are some of the relevant studies:

In nearly every study, however, the importance of water availability is the major limiting factor for growth of bryophytes within a region. Temperature may define the bounds of their distribution, but water availability determines their growth rate within that suitable temperature range. …
“In the Arctic, it appears that warming temperatures are likely to decrease bryophyte relative cover as graminoids increase (Hollister et al. 2005). Wahren et al. (2005) found a similar increase in sedges (Eriophorum vaginatum – Figure 16) and decrease in bryophytes in Alaska after eight years of increased temperatures, but even the control plots had a similar response. Ironically, plots with additional snow cover were actually warmer due to the greater insulating effect. They also benefitted by the additional moisture available.”
“Polar and alpine regions maintain cool temperatures favorable to C3 plants such bryophytes throughout the growing season. Even on days that may exceed temperatures favoring net carbon gain, most of the day is generally cool enough to favor fixation over respiration. Such temperature conditions, when coupled with sufficient moisture, are highly favorable to the growth of bryophytes.”

Net, the response to temperature is complex, but the response to carbon dioxide concentration is pretty clear. Either way, it is impossible to conclude that any growth rate change is due to temperature in isolation of carbon dioxide increases.

Reply to  Robert W Turner
May 18, 2017 6:36 pm

Thanks for that good summary, lorcanbonda.

Janice Moore
Reply to  Robert W Turner
May 18, 2017 6:50 pm

Lorcan (great research!):

The goal of this paper is to show the relationship between temperature and moss growth rates.

That quote makes the paper sound kind of hokey from the get-go.
Like tree ring proxies, moss growth is a poor proxy for climate. Light, as well as humidity and temperature, regulates moss growth.

….why do moss peat banks accumulate in Antarctica … the banks are only found on a few remote islands and headlands to the west and north of the Antarctic Peninsula. …..
The mosses found in Antarctica grow best under low light conditions ….
To summarise, the moss bank species have several traits that allow them to rapidly re-activate and make use of the brief periods in the year when the light, temperature and water availability are suitable for growth. They can survive in essentially a dormant state when conditions are too dry, cold or dark for growth ….

(Source: https://bogology.org/2013/10/16/how-do-mosses-survive-in-antarctica/ )
And this study underscores the uncertainty of moss as a proxy for temperature/”climate”:

… {Antarctic} moss growth slowed down when winds picked up …
They also found that warmer summers, when more ice melts, making more water available, nurtured faster growth in the moss shoots. However, no long-term trend in growth rate related to temperature emerged from the shoots they studied. Instead, the overall trend appears to be decreasing growth coinciding with increased wind speed.

(Source: http://www.livescience.com/17686-antarctic-mosses-climate-change.html )

Reply to  Robert W Turner
May 18, 2017 9:19 pm

The paper is trying to use moss growth rates as a proxy for temperature in Antarctica. I’m not sure why they can’t use thermometers. I guess he wants to go back further in time. All that being said, the study seems to steadfastly refuse to consider an atmospheric concentration chart within the publication, Seems kind of silly, since that is the main driver.
You’re right that light, humidity and temperature affect growth. The reason for conducting this test in Antarctica is because they can better control those factors. My complaint was about them ignoring the role of CO2 even though it has been well documented (and better explains the increase beginning ~1960.)
You’re right, these mosses can endure through the long cold.dark winter to reappear in the summer. This is part of the appeal to a scientist — the season is predictable. That is the plant’s response to light is predictable. Warming can sometimes reduce growth rates as it showed in the Alaska study.

Reply to  Robert W Turner
May 20, 2017 4:30 am

Response to increased CO2 is likely not the dominate factor, as the paper early on mentions the decrease in productivity since 2000.

May 18, 2017 2:11 pm

a little farther from Antartica The Chesapeake Bay Foundation reports that grasses in the bay are flourishing. Could it be that increased CO2 is helping the grasses in the Bay and the moss in Antartica to grow. Isn’t this a good thing? http://www.cbf.org/about-the-bay/state-of-the-bay-report/2016/index.html.

Reply to  Robert
May 18, 2017 2:18 pm

CO2 plus nutrient runoff. The seagrasses are helping cope with the excess chemical fertilizer. Not clear this is all a good thing, since it changes the bay biosphere. I used to avidly fish (stripers, spots, oysters, clams) and hunt (ducks, geese) it until moved away to college. No algal blooms in those times, and no extensive seagrass beds IIRC.

May 18, 2017 2:20 pm

Antarctica ‘greening’ due to increasing CO2……..comment image

John Harmsworth
Reply to  Latitude
May 19, 2017 9:09 pm

Wow! No wonder I feel exactly the same! Lol!

Reply to  Latitude
May 20, 2017 2:53 pm

… and CONUS ‘greening’ due to increasing CO2… too!

Janice Moore
May 18, 2017 2:23 pm

Plant life only exists on about 0.3% of Antarctica,


the findings provide one way of measuring the extent and effects of warming on the continent.

(See lorcan above re: data quality, https://wattsupwiththat.com/2017/05/18/oh-noes-antarctica-greening-due-to-climate-change/#comment-2506014 )

Tom in Florida
May 18, 2017 2:35 pm

So the logical conclusion is that in the areas studied there are no rolling stones.

Reply to  Tom in Florida
May 18, 2017 2:43 pm

Wickedly funny during my Fort Lauderdale cocktail hour. Thank god the glass was set down before reading that.

Reply to  Tom in Florida
May 20, 2017 12:43 am

They moved away because of climate change. It was becoming to cold as they got older. 😉

May 18, 2017 2:36 pm

The accompanying picture is lovely.
On another note they…
“found major biological changes had occurred over the past 50 years”
When is that not the case and why is it of any concern? Nature is a vehicle of change. The oddest and saddest thing would be for it to stand still – that will only happen when all life is extinguished.

Bruce Cobb
May 18, 2017 2:37 pm

“The researchers now plan to examine core records dating back over thousands of years to test how much climate change affected ecosystems before human activity started causing global warming.”
So the MWP, RWP, etc. were just “climate change”, but now we have “global warming” due to man. Interesting. Confirmation bias will drive these “researcher’s” “results”.

May 18, 2017 2:46 pm

Antarctica is not warming, but cooling.
And yet it greens.
So I wonder what mechanism is causing the greening?
Which is enhanced by rising CO2 level.
It’s a word you learned at school beginning with p………….

Richard G
Reply to  ptolemy2
May 18, 2017 4:15 pm

The only p word I learned in school which I retained is poppycock. It’s become quite useful as it’s the only p word I need to describe all things related to CAGW.

son of mulder
May 18, 2017 3:08 pm

At the South Pole moss grows on all sides of the stone.

Reply to  son of mulder
May 19, 2017 8:06 am

Good one! I was trying for something clever wrt moss growing on the north side of trees, at least in the NH. It was one way to help from getting lost in the dense forests where one can’t see anything for the trees.

May 18, 2017 3:15 pm

So? We can plant crops on this useless piece of [pruned] and make it useful? Cool! But lets us not plant any trees, since the latest leftarded theory is tree planting is harming Mother Gaia.
[Watch your language. You’ve been writing here often enough to know better. .mod]

May 18, 2017 3:19 pm

What kind of instrument should one use to image this Antarctic greening?
Hmm – how about a CMOS?

Brett Keane
Reply to  ptolemy2
May 18, 2017 8:07 pm

@ ptolemy2
May 18, 2017 at 3:19 pm: A mosst effective choice!

May 18, 2017 4:18 pm

AGW = CC = Industrialization by Fossil Fuels = higher taxes to provide grants funding to scientists that support AGW/CC Studies.
Where are all the grant funding to scientists that don’t support AGW/CC and want to disprove it? They’re on welfare and other government assisted living for being Heretics and critics after being demonized and ostracized.

May 18, 2017 4:25 pm

The If / And clause:
large shifts in the ranges and growth rates of mosses and microbial communities can be expected
– recent rates of temperature change increase,
— as predicted,
— even recognizing the current REVERSAL of warming in this region [1, 4],
– associated environmental changes such as glacier retreat [31] continue.
Conclusion: what happened in the past can happen again.

May 18, 2017 4:57 pm

Could it be greening due to increased CO2 not temperature?

May 18, 2017 6:07 pm

What global warming? We’d sure like to have some here in middle Alberta.

Dr Deanster
May 18, 2017 6:19 pm

The research was funded by …….
There is your punch line. I didn’t read the article, but I’ll bet a dollar to a donuts that it concludes with ….. more research needs to be done ….. I.e., give us more money

May 18, 2017 7:30 pm

The Antarctic Peninsula is really NOT Antarctica … very different.
Reports are indicating that the “research” was fabricated! The “researchers” never set foot on even the Antarctica Peninsula or even off the grounds of the University of Exeter except to their apartments and homes and shops near by! Sad!

May 18, 2017 8:06 pm

A small 500m X 500m island is the bellwether for the climate at the South Pole?

John Harmsworth
Reply to  Nashville
May 19, 2017 9:15 pm

Which implies the fate of the planet, dontcha know? Duh, duh, duh!

Brett Keane
May 18, 2017 8:33 pm

Grant, your suggestion re CO2- improved growth is worthy of being addressed. Mosses, even more than Yamal pines,need plenteous water. That is part of their long evolutionary path. Earth’s greening is largely because of better water use efficiency thanks to more CO2 enabling less stomatal opening. This wastes less water by transpiration from those same stomata. Cold places have an induced-water shortage also from lack of energy to pump it through the plant, using solute physics and mass flow. As if they were in the Sahel then, more CO2 helps. Now it is cooling, the energetics are getting contrary again. If they are real biologists/botanists, they will have an interesting time, they could do comparisons with Dartmoor and Scotland. Neither of which are very tropical, What is happening to the English wine industry might even catch their attention, right next door….

May 18, 2017 9:02 pm

Haha, “Green” Island.

el gordo
May 18, 2017 10:26 pm

Dragon Skin Ice in Antarctica is rare so I’m assuming it has no relation to AGW.

Lars Jonsson
May 19, 2017 12:02 am

The articles first figure from three different stations show that there has been no warming after 1990. In the summary the authors state that “Our data indicate a widespread biological response to recent rapid warming on the AP.” I wonder what the authors mean with “recent rapid warming” when in fact no warming has been taken place the last 30 years. The word recent has got a new meaning.

May 19, 2017 2:29 am

Note: one species of moss is not equal to the implied “all plant life” in their sub-headline. ”
Their subhead line has no such implication.
Read it again.

Reply to  Steven Mosher
May 19, 2017 5:32 am

Blinded by delusion !…
QUOTE :”Plant life on Antarctica is growing rapidly due to climate change, scientists have found.”
Does not say ONLY MOSS !

Bryan A
Reply to  Steven Mosher
May 19, 2017 6:26 am

Mr Mosher, good to see your post. Perhaps you might know…
Why is Green Island (Antarctica) named “Green Island”?

May 19, 2017 4:35 am

Cracks in Antartica
much worse than expected, but the sound is good.

Bryan A
Reply to  vukcevic
May 19, 2017 5:01 pm

Perhaps it could use a little Crack Cream

George Lawson
May 19, 2017 5:35 am

“sharp increase”
“major biological change”
“dramatic effect”
“much greener in the future”
“ecosystems will alter rapidly”
“plants and soils will change substantially”
“unprecedented findings”
“widespread biological response”
Why do these people always talk as if a third world war is imminent? Why can’t they talk in normal language about their useless findings without prognosticating on the future on their meagre current findings? and why, when only 0.3 per cent of the Antarctic is effected, do they not tell us what additional percentage of greening has occurred and over what period?
Who was responsible in the National Environment Research Council for approving the considerable funding required to send seven researchers – Messrs. Amesbury, Roland, Royles, Hodgson, Canvey, Griffiths, and Charman to the Antarctica on such a useless research jolly? Presumably the NERC itself is funded from the public purse in which case someone should look at the obvious incompetence of the grant committee, and appoint a committee that does not spend its money on a subject which requires their political bias.

May 19, 2017 7:06 am

More moss means less ice. Less ice means less sunlight reflected back into space, which means higher temperatures. Higher temperatures means a lot more moss! That’s a positive feedback and it is accelerating. The Antarctic ice sheet will then reach a critical tipping point and all of a sudden it will just slide into the oceans one night while we are asleep. Let’s see you make fun of Al Gore when that happens!

Reply to  tim
May 19, 2017 7:13 am

..You forgot the /sarc…?

John Harmsworth
Reply to  tim
May 19, 2017 9:25 pm

I have faith in Al Gore. Nothing he ever said was true! Not a single word! So I think we’re safe here. The weather is pretty well identical to 1975 as far as I can tell. 40 years of Global Warming and nothing to show for it except holes in my pocket where my money is supposed to be!

May 19, 2017 7:13 am

“The name derives from the luxuriant growth of moss nearly 4 acres in extent on the northern slopes of the island”
The Antarctic sure is greening.

May 19, 2017 10:05 am

… and let’s not forget to visualize the reality — Antarctica is the size of the continental United States and Mexico COMBINED. The Antarctic Peninsula is the northern most REGION of this MASSIVE continent, which, of course, has the “mildest” climate.
It’s a huge continent, and so studies about the thin strip, jutting out into the sea, creating (I imagine) a significantly different flow of air currents from the rest of the continent, … such studies are REGIONAL studies, right? Using such studies to imply continent-wide critical climate change relies on many people’s ignorance of how BIG Antarctica is:comment image?raw=1
Playing on people’s ignorance seems to be a valid scientific tactic.

May 19, 2017 5:44 pm

Here’s the link for you next “Oh Noes!!” posting – https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/may/19/arctic-stronghold-of-worlds-seeds-flooded-after-permafrost-melts
Hope we won’t have to wait too long

Reply to  MorinMoss
May 20, 2017 2:40 am

…Oh Boyssss, More Fake News !! D’oh !!!

Reply to  MorinMoss
May 20, 2017 10:44 am

Meanwhile arctic temperatures are below normal….

Reply to  tty
May 20, 2017 2:39 pm

Yes and the Arctic sea ice extent is growing.
But when I look at the extent time series and see how many ups and downs it experienced since 2007, I think I’ll wait a few months until I begin to say “Arctic is now cooling”.

Reply to  Bindidon
May 21, 2017 4:55 am

??So 10 years isn’t enough but a few more months will convince you???

Reply to  tty
May 21, 2017 7:47 am

MorinMoss on May 21, 2017 at 4:55 am
10 years of what?
Linear trends for the Arctic sea ice extent in °C ± 2 sigma / decade:
– Jan 1979 – Dec 2016: -0.55 ± 0.02
– Jan 1997 – Dec 2016: -0.73 ± 0.05
– Jan 2007 – Dec 2016: -0.43 ± 0.16
– Dec 01 2016 – May 18 2017: +1.59 ± 0.08
Source: ftp://sidads.colorado.edu/DATASETS/NOAA/G02135/north/daily/data/
What exactly do you mean, MorinMoss?

Reply to  Bindidon
May 21, 2017 3:27 pm

“What exactly do you mean, MorinMoss”
This: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9NP0L1PG9ag
the staggering dropoff in Arctic sea ice volume since the start of satellite monitoring and especially in the past decade
Source data – http://psc.apl.washington.edu/research/projects/arctic-sea-ice-volume-anomaly/

Reply to  MorinMoss
May 21, 2017 5:10 pm

“a few more months will convince you???” Ah, no. There is no actual science or facts or truth behind your lies so you can only “convince” the stupid. Do you sit in front of a mirror as you tell yourself this lies? Or is that no longer necessary?

Reply to  2hotel9
May 21, 2017 5:42 pm

If you have something substantive to contribute, go right ahead.
If all you have to offer is insult, do kindly please GTFO

Reply to  MorinMoss
May 22, 2017 4:50 am

I heap ridicule and derision on anyone pushing the fake religion of Human Caused Globall Warmining, no exceptions. Lets just clear the issue up, shall we? The climate changes, constantly. Humans are not causing it and can not stop it. Period, full stop. All you can accomplish is dragging down electricity, agricultural and manufacturing capacity which will have zero effect on the climate changing. It will bring about increased poverty, starvation and misery on people, which is apparently your only goal.

Reply to  tty
May 21, 2017 9:20 am

Wow. Apologies for a stoopid mistake: of course the trend unit is here Mkm² and not °C. Oh Noes 🙂

Reply to  tty
May 22, 2017 7:40 am

2hotel9 on May 21, 2017 at 5:10 pm
Ah, no. There is no actual science or facts or truth behind your lies so you can only “convince” the stupid. Do you sit in front of a mirror as you tell yourself this lies?
Why do all those people I call the “unsound skeptics” (and I manage to keep polite here) always feel the need to pretend everything they don’t accept be a lie? That’s simply crank. Inverted warmistas!
Come out next time with really trustworthy data, 2hotel9… if you are able to discover some outside the ultraskeptic blogosphere.

Reply to  Bindidon
May 23, 2017 5:23 am

Because the religion of Man Caused Globall Warmining is a lie.
[Yes, we are in a war, but the mods must remind you that the eco-warriers want to end global mining as well. a 6th century desert might be acceptable to them. .mod]

May 20, 2017 8:05 pm

An opening sentence to an article covering this in a U.K. newspaper yesterday was “The pristine white landscape of Antarctica has disappeared”, before launching into the usual global warming nonsense.
It really is appalling that people can get away with such barefaced lies.

May 28, 2017 6:47 pm

First reported in 2009 in the film The Antarctica Challenge: A Global Warning.

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