To make sure you never miss out on your favourite NEW stories, we're happy to send you some reminders

Click 'OK' then 'Allow' to enable notifications

Flowers are spreading in Antarctica and experts say it's not good news

Flowers are spreading in Antarctica and experts say it's not good news

The effects of global warming and climate change are being seen in the Antarctic

Flowers blooming in Antarctica sounds like a pretty picture - but it could actually mean global warming an climate change have reached a critical level.

The freezing continent at the bottom of the globe is home to just two species of flowering plants - the Antarctic hair grass and Antarctic pearlwort.

Both of these are the only plants that can grow in the sub zero temperatures and icy climate, however, but since the continent is mostly ice and snow, there hasn't been enough room for it to grow.

But in recent years, more shrubs and plant life have been growing across the continent.

Nicoletta Cannone, from the University of Insubria, Italy, and her colleagues measured the growth of Antarctica's two native plants at a number of sites on Signy Island, in the South Orkney Islands, from 2009 to 2019 and found results pointing to the detrimental effects of climate change.

The plants in Antarctic have been growing more dense and at a greater speed in recent years.

As the global temperature rises, it's had an effect on the Antarctica plants as the study showed the sites had not only become more densely populated by the plants - but that they had also grown faster each year as the climate got warmer.

The scientific study showed the Antarctic hair grass was growing as much in 2009-2019 as it had in the entire 50 years from 1960 from 2009.

For the Antarctic pearlwort, it had moved even faster by growing five times more in the same periods.

Peter Convey, at the British Antarctic Survey, touched on the impact of accelerated growth, as he told New Scientist: "The most novel feature of this is not the idea that something is growing faster.

Antarctic hair grass and Antarctic pearlwort are two types of plants that grow in Antarctic.
Liam Quinn/ Flickr

"It’s that we think we’re starting to see what is almost like a step change or a tipping point."

Matthew Davey, at the Scottish Association for Marine Science in Oban, UK, added: "Accelerated expansion is now clearly evident in the region.

"This research gives us the first comprehensive data set showing how fast and how dense the plant community may expand."

The study also noted that there could be a number of factors affecting the plant growth, including declining fur seal population - yet the link to climate change is clear.

The study saw warmer temperatures in Antarctic as one of the possible causes for plant life growth.
Getty Stock Photos

Increasing temperatures on the planet could also allow invasive species to colonise in the continent and outgrow the native plants, which could destabilise local ecosystems and biodiversity.

Cannone added: "If we extrapolate what we observed on Signy Island to other sites in Antarctica, a similar process can also occur.

"This means that the Antarctic landscape and biodiversity could change rapidly."

Featured Image Credit: Liam Quinn - Flickr/Kelly Cheng