Scientists say climate change is prompting “unprecedented” ecological change across the Antarctic Peninsula, which is home to the Gentoo and chinstrap penguins.

Antarctica, the desolate southernmost continent boasting the coldest climate on Earth, usually brings to mind visions of ice, snow and penguins.

But global warming is transforming Antarctica’s icy expanses, new research from the University of Exeter in the UK shows. Parts of the continent are “greening,” researchers say — and exponentially fast.

Moss, as seen on this&nbsp;bank on Green Island in the Antarctic Peninsula,&nbsp;has been growing in the region at a dramatically faster rate in the past 50 years, according to a study&nbsp;<a href="http://www.cell.com/current-biology/fulltext/S0960-9822(17)30478-5" target="_blank">published</a> last week.

Moss has been growing on the Antarctic Peninsula at a dramatically faster rate in the past 50 years, and warming temperatures are the culprit. If you’d taken a photograph of these parts of the peninsula 50 years ago it would have been a monochrome shot of ice. Nothing but glaciers.

The Antarctic Peninsula, the northernmost part of the continent, is known to be one of most rapidly warming region on Earth. Average temperatures there have jumped about 1 degree Fahrenheit each decade since the 1950s.

Previously, scientists 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.”

Antarctica is following in the footsteps of the planet’s other polar region, the Arctic, which has been experiencing a similar greening because of climate change.

The changes aren’t just ecological; melting Arctic and Antarctic ice has the potential to significantly contribute to sea level rise in the coming decades, which poses a threat to millions of coastal dwellers around the globe.

Huffington Post / Crickey Conservation Society 2018.

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