Perceived earlier as a warning sign for climate change, the floating icebergs in Antarctic Southern Ocean are found to be helping the sea take up carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, a new study has revealed.
According to a five-year research carried out in the Weddell Sea by Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI), Antarctic icebergs fertilize the Southern Ocean, enhancing the growth of algae that take up carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and then, through marine food chains, transfer carbon into the deep sea.
The new finding, which was aided by the US National Science Foundation (NSF), indicates possibilities of revision in climate change forecasts, according to scientists.
“The role of icebergs in removing carbon from the atmosphere may have implications for global climate models that need to be further studied,” marine biologist Ken Smith, who led the research, said.
Details of the study published in Deep-Sea Research journal suggests that as global warming causes ice-break off Antarctic ice sheets, the icebergs, carrying iron-rich sediment, favor growth of algae into sea.
“As these icebergs melt and drift across the ocean, some of the iron dissolves in the seawater, creating a trail of iron-rich meltwater that can be up to 19 kilometers long. The iron in this water helps fertilize the growth of microscopic algae,” the journal said.
Scientists find the process as a “vicious circle” in which, one effect of Global Warming is causing another effect to combat it. However, even if Antarctic icebergs help alter climate change forecasts, how Global Warming should be stabilized in other parts of the world, remains to be explored.