Antarctic flowering plants warm to climate change

March 30, 2011, Bangor University

Antarctic flowering plants warm to climate change
( -- The first issue of a new journal in the prestigious Nature series, Nature Climate Change (issue 1; April 2011) highlights how one plant species in the Antarctic appears to be taking advantage of climate change.

Bangor University scientist and the paper’s lead author, Dr. Paul Hill explains: “We think of the Antarctic as a land of snow and ice. But, in summer on the Antarctic Peninsula, and the islands surrounding the frozen centre of the continent, the snow melts and many areas become green with mosses and two species of native flowering plant. Recently, as global temperatures have increased, and Antarctic summers have become longer and warmer, one of these flowering , Antarctic Hairgrass (Deschampsia antarctica), has become increasingly widespread.”

A team of UK and Australian scientists led by Professor Davey Jones of Bangor University’s School of the Environment, Natural Resources and Geography may have discovered the secret to the success of this plant. The team carried out research funded by the Natural Environment Research Council in collaboration with British Antarctic Survey at its Signy Research Station in the Southern Orkneys. Signy is an isolated island that has a well-established record of climatic warming over the last 50 years.

Prof Davey Jones explains: “Plants need nitrogen to grow successfully. In coastal Antarctica, most of the nitrogen is locked in organic matter in the soil, which has been slow to decompose in the cold conditions. This is now becoming more available as temperatures increase”.

Antarctic flowering plants warm to climate change

Professor Jones’ team made the discovery that Antarctic Hairgrass can use its roots to access this nitrogen much more efficiently than has previously been shown in plants. Consequently, in the struggle to find the nutrients needed to exploit the sunlight of the brief Antarctic summer, this grass has a key advantage over the mosses, with which it competes for resources. However, Professor Jones concedes that it may be some time before bases need to invest in lawnmowers.

These findings show that some plants use nitrogen in a form that has not previously been recognised as important. Consequently, they also have significant implications for the sustainable management of agricultural and natural ecosystems in many other parts of the world. The discovery of a new cog in the terrestrial nitrogen cycle should help us to use fertilisers more efficiently and to better understand the implications of anthropogenic pollution and ecosystem responses to .

Explore further: Antarctic plants and animal life survived ice ages

More information: “Vascular plant success in a warming Antarctic may be due to efficient nitrogen acquisition” by was published in Nature Climate Change on 29 March. doi:10.1038/NCLIMATE1060

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2.6 / 5 (17) Mar 30, 2011
I know this. The Northern Hemisphere was warmer 1000 years ago than it is today. There were dairy farms in Greenland that now lie under ice. There were also grape vineyards in Scotland. Grapes no longer grow in Scotland.

I also know that 235 years ago it was 'normal' for the Hudson River to freeze solid enough, at New York City (Haarlem), for cannon to be rolled across to General Washington.

It is plain that in historical times the climate has been both warmer and cooler. Why is the current cycle any different?

Do the climate model(er)s even take the Medieval Warm Period, or Little Ice Age, into account?
2.3 / 5 (15) Mar 30, 2011
Shootist, They need things to look as bad as possible so they can try and push their green agenda.
3.4 / 5 (14) Mar 30, 2011
Shootist - I keep hearing this dairy farm claim from you. Do you understand that global climate and local weather are different? You cannot seriously make the claim that because ONE place was warmer (if it was) 1000 years ago, that global temperatures were warmer.

During one weekend 235 years ago, the Hudson river froze. This doesn't mean that global temps were colder then.

Surely even you can see the logical fallacies involved with that logic. Or are you just another stupid troll?
3.3 / 5 (8) Mar 30, 2011

It is plain that in historical times the climate has been both warmer and cooler. Why is the current cycle any different?

Because the current cycle has seen a dramatic shift in climate in only a short period.

Historic cycles happened over many hundreds or thousands of years.
1 / 5 (2) Mar 30, 2011
the simple fact of the matter is we have not been gathering good data on the climate long enough to know ALL the Earth's cycles ---


if we can use what ever means possible to get lazy ass politicians up and doing things that are good for the environment -- is that a bad thing -- switching from caol and oil to renewable resources is good no matter what causes the switch -- moving towards not polluting the environment at all is a good thing no matter what

would we be making these good decisions without climate propaganda -- probbly not ---

Do i care if scientist have got it right on climate change -- NO, I don;t care one little red cent -- but I do like the outcome and change it is promoting.
not rated yet Mar 30, 2011
The problems with this article not withstanding, how can the Nature series, Nature Climate Change be prestigious if this is only the first issue?
3 / 5 (2) Mar 30, 2011
Since the start of the 1900's human population has grown exponentially and so has the industry they create. Never before has man had such a huge impact on the earth. Destroying the rain forest, entire ecosystems not to mention massive pollution. If there is a dullard out there that thinks global warming is not partially caused by man, they need to crawl back under the rock they have been living under. In nature the climate change takes time but if you involve man in the equation, it happens much much faster than it would have if we were not alive or our number were not so great.
3.7 / 5 (3) Mar 30, 2011
Wasn't the little ice age caused by a volcanic eruption?
1 / 5 (4) Mar 30, 2011
The problems with this article not withstanding, how can the Nature series, Nature Climate Change be prestigious if this is only the first issue?

Nature was once a very prestigious journal.

Some of us think it became too aligned with consensus opinions, unlike the old days when it published controversial new discoveries.

With kind regards,
Oliver K. Manuel
5 / 5 (1) Mar 31, 2011
Shootist has already been told that grapes are stil being grown in Scotland and that the dairy farms are not under ice.
Shootist has been told that the settlers of Greenland during the North Atlantic Medieval Warm Anomaly lost an average of 5" in height due to an unsustainable long term life style due to the conditions.
Shootist has been told that the population of Greenland is currently over 56,000.

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