why is Antarctica turning green
Barrientos Island in the Antarctic region December 2021 (Image copyright MyLifesAMovie.com)

When you look at these photos, you might be wondering, “Why is Antarctica turning green?”, right? I don’t blame you, since usually when one thinks of Antarctica, it’s usually a pristine white with contrasting grey and blue image.

However, I just returned from my second expedition to Antarctica, and for the second time, I experienced an island that was not white at all. It was green! It was even more green than the first time I went four years ago!

Now I know some people might easily just say the green is there “because it’s summer”, but there’s obviously a much more important scientific reasoning behind it.

In fact, for the last six years, researcher and scientists from the University of Cambridge have been studying this greenness in Antarctica. Which they say you can see from space.

Here’s a recap of their findings to answer the question, why is Antarctica turning green?

Why Is Antarctica Turning Green?

why is Antarctica turning green

I hope this is an obvious answer; it’s because of global warming.

Yes, Antarctica is only is green during the summer months (November to February), but it wasn’t always like that. In fact, the research reports say that the greenness has only been present for the last 50 years, which is also when the most drastic climate changes have happened.

The greenery, which I’ll explain in a bit, only grows when temperatures are above 0 degrees. So as the temperatures continue to rise, the green continues the thrive.

Right now, the green areas are only present on low lying islands around the Antarctic peninsula, where temperatures are the highest.

Just HOW Warm Is It Getting in Antarctica?

why is Antarctica turning green
During my first expedition to Antarctica in 2017, it was so warm that I wore a tank top (or dress) on some of the islands. (Image copyright MyLifesAMovie.com)

Well, as you can see in my photos, sometimes it wasn’t very cold at all. In fact, last year there was a new record high in Antarctica of 64.9 degrees F (18.3 C).

As I mentioned, the Antarctic region has the fastest increasing rate of temperature, which is extremely dangerous for the planet, and, well, us. So if you don’t believe in doing your part to stop and reverse climate change…I hope you know how to swim!

So What is the Green Stuff?

The first Antarctic island I went to that was green was called Bailey Head. We were all VERY confused. There was hardly any snow at all, and instead, it looked like rolling hills of grass.

But it’s not grass. It’s slimey green algae that the researchers call “Green Snow”.

The Green Snow grows on top of melting snow and again, when the temperature is above 0 degrees. It also prefers to grow in areas where there’s excess nutrients from penguin poo (as well as other Antarctic birds).

Which, explains why I saw more penguins on the green islands than most of the snowy ones!

Is The Green Algae Good or Bad?

why is Antarctica turning green
The penguins seem to like it…

Here’s what I found the most interesting about the research study; researchers and scientists say that the green algae is both good AND bad. They also say that the increasing temperatures will be good and bad for it too. There’s a whole lot of factors being thrown around in this report, which is why I’m summarizing it for you.

Why the Green Algae in Antarctica is GOOD:

The researchers and scientists main conclusion of why this green algae is good, is because of course; it helps to eliminate CO2 from the atmosphere! They say the existing algae blooms take in several hundred tons of carbon dioxide per year.

Additionally, they believe the green algae helps the ecosystem, and brings diversity to the areas it grows in.

Why the Green Algae in Antarctica is BAD:

Aside from disappointing a few people who go to Antarctica for the Frozen experience (joke), there’s one main reason the researchers found this algae to be bad.

That reason is that since the green algae grows on top of the white snow, it blocks the white snow from reflecting the suns rays and heat. Instead, that heat gets absorbed into the ground, which can actually increase the warming.

The report says that white snow reflects 80% of the suns rays and heat, but the Green Snow only blocks 45%.

So Will Antarctica Continue to Turn Green?

why is Antarctica turning green

Here’s yet another plot twist! While the Green Snow may technically be good for the ecosystem and CO2 intake, and it grows “thanks” to the warmer temperatures, keep in mind what it also needs to grow….SNOW!

Guess what doesn’t exist when temperatures are too high? SNOW!

So while global warming may have given life to the green algae, it is also capable of taking it away. The more the temperatures rise, the less snow will be on some of these islands, and then there won’t be any green algae on them.

However, the researches hypothesize that the green algae will just spread to higher altitudes where there still is snow, and where there’s also more room to expand.

For Real, What’s the Conclusion Here?

why is Antarctica turning green

So, why is Antarctica turning green? It’s because the increase in temperatures from global warming create an atmosphere for green algae to grow on melting snow.

The green algae has a solid diet of penguin poo and CO2, and from my personal observations, the penguins seem to like their new landscaping makeover.

Green Snow does more good than bad (according to researchers and scientists), and we will likely be seeing more of it in the future.

The end.

How YOU Can Help Slow, Stop, and Reverse Global Warming.

I’m not kidding, unless you have serious goals to be a mermaid, you need to do something about climate change / global warming.

There are so many ways that just by doing a little, we can all do A LOT to battle climate change! Here’s a few suggestions:

  • Stop eating beef — the beef industry is one of the top contributors to CO2! And yes it includes cow farts!
  • Stop buying anything plastic — don’t just recycle…REDUCE
  • Stop wasting food — only buy what you KNOW you’ll eat
  • Take public transportation
  • Turn off the lights, and replace bulbs with LEDs
  • Insulate your home
  • Support gov leaders who support climate change (not the opposite)
  • Spread the word
  • Donate every time you fly to offset your carbon footprint
  • Shop second hand or eco-conscious brands and donate your old clothing

I’m proud to say that my recent Antarctica group trip raised over $6k to donate to climate change, preservation, and research organizations! If you’d like to learn more or send a donation, here are some that I’d recommend:

Thank you to everyone who read this, and who cares about important issues like global warming! Please help me spread the word by sharing this post on social!