Melting icebergs are an iconic image, often used to represent climate change. The idea that we are warming the planet with our emissions and melting the poles is one that we are all familiar with.
However, some new research shows that it may not be all bad news. Although all this melting will cause sea levels to rise, it may also be storing a lot of carbon and reducing the levels of pollutants in our atmosphere. Icebergs are full of nutrients, and as they melt and float out to sea they can sustain huge communities of seabirds, krill, fish and phytoplankton.Timothy Shaw, a geochemist at the University of South Carolina was one of the researchers, "The Southern Ocean lacks a major source for terrestrial material due to the absence of major rivers. The icebergs constitute a moving estuary, distributing terrestrial-derived nutrients that are typically supplied by rivers in other areas of the oceans."
These nutrients encourage large amounts of phytoplankton growth, which absorbs CO2 from the atmosphere. It's essentially the same process as Planktos are trying to artificially create by seeding the oceans with iron particles.
The research claims that there are 1,000 icebergs in the Weddell Sea, which are boosting the biological productivity of nearly 40% of its area.
Ken Smith, an oceanographer at the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI) and the leader of the research, said: "While the melting of Antarctic ice shelves is contributing to rising sea levels and other climate change dynamics in complex ways, this additional role of removing carbon from the atmosphere may have implications for global climate models that need to be further studied." ::The Guardian