Icebergs collect mini ecosystems, lock up carbon
Icebergs, released by global warming from the icy embrace of Antarctica, have surprised scientists by playing host to many forms of life.
According to new research published in the journal Science, the bergs also act as floating carbon sinks, net accumulators of carbon dioxide.
Now drifting through the Weddell sea, the bergs are "hotspots" for ocean life thanks to trapped "terrestrial material" they have carried with them from the continent. The researchers estimate that the bergs are increasing the biological activity in as much as 40 per cent of the Weddell sea.
As the icebergs melt, they release their earthy cargo far out at sea, creating a habitable zone of up to two miles radius around each berg. In this region, phytoplankton, krill, and fish all do well below the waterline. Attracted by all this food, populations of seabirds are thriving on the icebergs, apparently using them as temporary cruise liners.
"One important consequence of the increased biological productivity is that free-floating icebergs can serve as a route for carbon dioxide drawdown and sequestration of particulate carbon as it sinks into the deep sea," said oceanographer Ken Smith of the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI), first author and principal investigator for the research.
"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," Smith added.
Smith's team carried out an astonishingly detailed and close-up study of the icebergs. They drew on satellite data from NASA to select their subjects, which they tracked in person from the research vessel Laurence M Gould. They also used a remotely operated vehicle (ROV) to explore the submerged sections of the floating ice mountains.
Bruce Robison, an oceanographer and ROV pilot said: "We flew the ROV into underwater caves and to the undersides of the icebergs, identifying and counting animals with its colour video camera, collecting samples, and surveying its topography."
Researcher John Helly, of the San Diego Supercomputer Centre (SDSC) at UC San Diego, concluded: "The whole is definitely greater than the sum of the parts." ®
Sometimes you wouldn't think this was a tech rag, the comments above by, lets face it, non-experts (and thats putting it nicely) show all the hallmarks of what techs hate in non-techs.
They admit to knowing fuck all but still have an opinon ... wtf ? Do something about your ignorance and stop reveling in it. Or at least, stop displaying your ignorance in public. Its damn embarrassing.
@Monett - good point, but its mitigated by the fact that if the 99% of all scientists are correct, then you need to start to do something. The anti crowds main argument is we should do nothing. Also, as I have pointed out in the past, main stream opinion is "sanity", in any definition of society, the 1% of freaks can then easily be labeled as nutters and we can move on.
@Morten Ranulf Clausen - what you need explaining ? Im here for you dude.
Yes, Mr. Clausen, but
In this day an age where a moron has control of the White House, the official policy is "if you're not with us, then you're against us". Of course, anyone asking questions is not With since he is a doubter, and if you're not with . . .
Funny thing is, this rule applies to both sides of the argument. The pro-GWs cannot accept that someone is skeptical without being and Anti-GW, and all Anti-GWs consider that if you're not anti, then you're either part of the conspiracy (my personal favorite) or just too dumb to know better.
I hate it when discussions verge into the "you're just a" territory. Seems that there aren't any brains on either side.
"Who are we to argue with scientists who have formed an opinion by consensus?"
Well, as I recall there was a paper published in the 1930's in Germany (not a place noted for its free-wheeling discussion climate) called something like "100 scientists against Einstein". As Einstein drily noted, "If they had been right one would have been enough". I don't know if it's true but it's a good story anyway.
In my experience too few scientists live up to the CUDOS principles (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_K._Merton#Sociology_of_science). Especially the Organized Skepticism seems a little hard to stomach for most. :-) Hence, we all have the responsibility of saying "That sounds interesting, now show me how you arrived at that conclusion" every time one of them tries to sell an idea to us. If they can't dumb it down sufficiently to explain it to us, it's because it's a fraud. A test that never fails. IMHO, YMMV etc.