Climate change continues to be a hot button topic across the globe, say the water experts at Green Water Technologies. And despite the many negative situations that may arise as temperatures trend upwards, there are a few places on earth that will eventually benefit. McMurdo Dry Valleys, one of just a handful of regions in the Arctic not covered in snow and permafrost, is one such area.
Q: What are the McMurdo Dry Valleys?
Green Water Technologies: The McMurdo Dry Valleys are an expansive row of valleys in Antarctica; they are located west of McMurdo Sound and within Victoria Land West. They are protected from ice flow by surrounding mountains. The valleys are an area of exceptionally low humidity and have been compared to the landscape of Mars.
Q: How does the Earth’s increasing temperature affect this area?
Green Water Technologies: As the ice caps continue to melt, water seeps slowly into the Dry Valley ecosystem, which has been severely limited in both liquid water and available nutrients. Historically, the valleys have contained very little organic matter. The introduction of additional moisture means that minerals, such as phosphorus, can be distributed throughout the soil and feed potential life.
Green Water Technologies: Plants need labile phosphorus and mineral phosphorus, the latter of which has been locked for centuries in the subterranean permafrost found throughout the McMurdo Dry Valleys. As water slowly begins to permeate the land, the mineral phosphorus, which must be broken down for use, will become available.
Q: How quickly will Antarctica’s landscape change due to global warming?
Green Water Technologies: No human alive today will witness this transformation. Scientists estimate that it will take up to a millennia for the phosphorus loads to increase and any viable aquatic ecosystem to develop. Currently, researchers only anticipate microscopic organisms, including algae, cyanobacteria, and nematodes, to grow in the area over the next several centuries.