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Mosses are sensitive to even minor changes in their living conditions. Sharon Robinson, Author provided

Drones are helping scientists check the health of Antarctic mosses, revealing clues on the pace of climate change.

The scientists say their method could be used for similar research in other harsh environments like desert or alpine regions.

Mosses are sensitive to even minor changes in their living conditions, and scientists traditionally tramped through difficult terrain to collect data on them.

Using the specially-designed drones is faster, kinder to the environment and delivers detailed images that satellite imagery cannot match.

Drones also allow to map much larger areas than previously possible, showing how the moss health responds to meltwater in real time.

These methods could be used for similar research in other harsh environments like desert or alpine regions.

The Conversation

Zbyněk Malenovský has received grants from the ARC and Australian Antarctic Science. He is affiliated with the Surveying and Spatial Sciences Group at the University of Tasmania, the Centre for Sustainable Ecosystem Solutions at the University of Wollongong and the Global Change Research Institute at the Czech Academy of Sciences.

Arko Lucieer has received grants from the Australian Research Council and Australian Antarctic Science Grant Scheme.

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