Skip to main content

Radiocarbon bomb spike reveals biological effects of Antarctic climate change

Journal Article


Download full-text (Open Access)

Abstract


  • The Antarctic has experienced major changes in temperature, wind speed and stratospheric ozone levels during the

    last 50 years. However, until recently continental Antarctica appeared to be little impacted by climate warming, thus

    biological changes were predicted to be relatively slow. Detecting the biological effects of Antarctic climate change

    has been hindered by the paucity of long-term data sets, particularly for organisms that have been exposed to these

    changes throughout their lives. We show that radiocarbon signals are preserved along shoots of the dominant Antarctic

    moss flora and use these to determine accurate growth rates over a period of several decades, allowing us to

    explore the influence of environmental variables on growth and providing a dramatic demonstration of the effects of

    climate change. We have generated detailed 50-year growth records for Ceratodon purpureus and three other Antarctic

    moss species using the 1960s radiocarbon bomb spike. Our growth rate and stable carbon isotope (d13C) data show

    that C. purpureus’ growth rates are correlated with key climatic variables, and furthermore that the observed effects of

    climate variation on growth are mediated through changes in water availability. Our results indicate the timing and

    balance between warming, high-wind speeds and elevated UV fluxes may determine the fate of these mosses and the

    associated communities that form oases of Antarctic biodiversity.

Publication Date


  • 2012

Citation


  • Clarke, L., Robinson, S. A., Hua, Q., Ayre, D. J. & Fink, D. (2012). Radiocarbon bomb spike reveals biological effects of Antarctic climate change. Global Change Biology, 18 (1), 301-310.

Scopus Eid


  • 2-s2.0-85023776625

Ro Full-text Url


  • http://ro.uow.edu.au/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=7432&context=scipapers

Ro Metadata Url


  • http://ro.uow.edu.au/scipapers/4090

Has Global Citation Frequency


Number Of Pages


  • 9

Start Page


  • 301

End Page


  • 310

Volume


  • 18

Issue


  • 1

Place Of Publication


  • United Kingdom

Abstract


  • The Antarctic has experienced major changes in temperature, wind speed and stratospheric ozone levels during the

    last 50 years. However, until recently continental Antarctica appeared to be little impacted by climate warming, thus

    biological changes were predicted to be relatively slow. Detecting the biological effects of Antarctic climate change

    has been hindered by the paucity of long-term data sets, particularly for organisms that have been exposed to these

    changes throughout their lives. We show that radiocarbon signals are preserved along shoots of the dominant Antarctic

    moss flora and use these to determine accurate growth rates over a period of several decades, allowing us to

    explore the influence of environmental variables on growth and providing a dramatic demonstration of the effects of

    climate change. We have generated detailed 50-year growth records for Ceratodon purpureus and three other Antarctic

    moss species using the 1960s radiocarbon bomb spike. Our growth rate and stable carbon isotope (d13C) data show

    that C. purpureus’ growth rates are correlated with key climatic variables, and furthermore that the observed effects of

    climate variation on growth are mediated through changes in water availability. Our results indicate the timing and

    balance between warming, high-wind speeds and elevated UV fluxes may determine the fate of these mosses and the

    associated communities that form oases of Antarctic biodiversity.

Publication Date


  • 2012

Citation


  • Clarke, L., Robinson, S. A., Hua, Q., Ayre, D. J. & Fink, D. (2012). Radiocarbon bomb spike reveals biological effects of Antarctic climate change. Global Change Biology, 18 (1), 301-310.

Scopus Eid


  • 2-s2.0-85023776625

Ro Full-text Url


  • http://ro.uow.edu.au/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=7432&context=scipapers

Ro Metadata Url


  • http://ro.uow.edu.au/scipapers/4090

Has Global Citation Frequency


Number Of Pages


  • 9

Start Page


  • 301

End Page


  • 310

Volume


  • 18

Issue


  • 1

Place Of Publication


  • United Kingdom