Brrrr!yophytes

The mercury has plummeted this week in Sawston (well, it’s probably coloured alcohol as there are Health and Safety issues with mercury, and I am sufficiently mad already), though this is as nothing to the conditions being experienced by some of our friends in Europe.  A colleague in Munich claimed the temperature there was minus twenty, which is pretty chilly in either Centiheit or Fahrengrade.  Now, a study in Nature Geoscience seems to suggests that I might be partly to blame.

“How so?”, I imagine you asking.  Well, worry not for I bring the gift of elucidation… (and no, I haven’t wrapped it and you can’t take it back if it doesn’t fit).

Fish Towers has east-facing grounds and, at this time of year, even on those rare occasions when a little sunlight breaks through the encircling gloom, the extensive lawns are still shaded by its imposing gothic façade.  This, coupled with the recent very soggy conditions, has offered a veritable nirvana to any passing haploid spores released by members of Division Bryophyta.   So, the bowling-green grass has now largely been displaced by a variety of mosses (though I have yet to spot either Kate or Stirling).

In their new study, scientists at Exeter University have proposed that the first appearance of moss (some 470 million years ago) led to a series of mini-ice ages resulting in a significant cooling of our climate.  Apparently, moss has a voracious appetite for carbon dioxide – though I prefer something more substantial myself.

So, I fear that my failure to eliminate my own bumper crop of bryophytes is contributing to the current low temperatures.  If only it weren’t so cold, I’d go out there with a rake to scarify us back to milder weather.  Still, on the plus side, I am doing my bit to keep global warming at bay for a few extra seconds, so I shall claim my arctic apathy as a principled stand for the environment!

Feel free to continue the lunacy...

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