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Antarctic Peninsula: One of the Coldest Areas in the World is getting Greener, say Researchers

The cores, researchers say, showed “increased biological activity” over the past 50 years as the peninsula warmed. Researchers say their findings show “fundamental and widespread change,” and that the change was “striking.”

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Researchers say the Antarctic Peninsula is rapidly greening due to climate change. (Matt Amesbury). VOA
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Antarctica, May 20,2017-One of the coldest areas in the world is getting greener, and researchers say it’s because of global warming.

Researchers from the University of Exeter in England who first studied the increase of moss and microbes in the Antarctic Peninsula in 2013, now say the greening of the region is widespread.

“This gives us a much clearer idea of the scale over which these changes are occurring,” says lead author Matthew Amesbury of the University of Exeter.

“Previously, we had only identified such a response in a single location at the far south of the Antarctic Peninsula, but now we know that moss banks are responding to recent climate change across the whole of the Peninsula.”

The peninsula, researchers say, is one of the more rapidly warming area in the world, adding that temperatures have risen by about a half-degree Celsius each decade since the 1950s.

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For their study, researchers looked at five more core samples from three areas of moss banks over 150 years old. The new samples included three Antarctic Islands off the peninsula.

The cores, researchers say, showed “increased biological activity” over the past 50 years as the peninsula warmed. Researchers say their findings show “fundamental and widespread change,” and that the change was “striking.”

The changes are likely to continue.

“Temperature increases over roughly the past half-century on the Antarctic Peninsula have had a dramatic effect on moss banks growing in the region, with rapid increases in growth rates and microbial activity,” says Dan Charman, who led the research. “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.”

The next step for researchers is to look back even further in history to see how climate change affected the region before humans made an impact.

The findings appeared in Current Biology on May 18. (VOA)

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World Hunger To Rise Due To Climate Change: WFP

The number of people suffering from hunger because of climate change-induced drought is rising particularly in Africa and Latin America.

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The World Food Program warns climate change will have a devastating impact on agriculture and the ability of people to feed themselves. The WFP forecasts a huge increase in worldwide hunger unless action is taken to slow global warming.

The WFP warns progress in reducing global hunger is under threat by conflict and the increase in climate disasters. For the first time in several decades, the WFP reports the number of people suffering from chronic food shortages has risen.

This year, it says, 821 million people went to bed hungry, 11 million more than the previous year.

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Gernot Laganda, WFP’s chief of Climate and Disaster Risk Reduction, notes the number of climate disasters has more than doubled since the early 1990s. He says extreme weather events are driving more people to flee their homes, leading to more hunger.

He told VOA the situation will get much worse as global temperatures rise.

“We are projecting that with a two-degree warmer world, we will have around 189 million people in a status of food insecurity more than today. And, if it is a four-degrees warmer world, which is possible if no action is taken, we are looking beyond one billion more. So, there is a very, very strong argument for early and decisive climate action,” said Laganda.

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Data from this year’s State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World report by six leading U.N. agencies show the bulk of losses and damages in food systems are due to drought and most of these disastrous events occur in Africa.

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Laganda says the number of people suffering from hunger because of climate change-induced drought is rising particularly in Africa and Latin America. He notes that until recently progress in Asia had led to a reduction in world hunger, but that trend has slowed markedly. (VOA)