Car­bon stores

Down to Earth - - COVER STORY -

GI­ANT ICE­BERGS may play a ma­jor role in the South­ern Ocean car­bon cy­cle. Ge­og­ra­phers an­a­lysed 175 satel­lite im­ages of ocean colour, which is an in­di­ca­tor of phy­to­plank­ton pro­duc­tiv­ity at the ocean's sur­face, and found that gi­ant ice­bergs are re­spon­si­ble for stor­ing up to 20 per cent of car­bon in the South­ern Ocean. The re­searchers dis­cov­ered melt­ing wa­ter from gi­ant ice­bergs, which con­tains iron and other nu­tri­ents, sup­ports hith­erto un­ex­pect­edly high lev­els of phy­to­plank­ton growth. This ac­tiv­ity, known as car­bon se­ques­tra­tion, con­trib­utes to the long-term stor­age of at­mo­spheric car­bon diox­ide, there­fore help­ing to slow global warm­ing. Na­ture Geo­science, Jan­uary 11

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