The Earth has shown us many different ways it tries to heal itself from the destruction we cause. It turns out large chunks of icebergs breaking off of Antarctica are actually countering the effects of global warming by providing sustenance for carbon dioxide-devouring algae blooms. While this can’t completely sop up our manmade emissions, it does create a sizable dent in addressing climate change.
A study published this week details how melting iceberg chunks release iron and other nutrients, which then fertilize algae. The algae, in turn, consumes 10 to 40 million tons of carbon per year, just accounting for the blooms in the wake of Antarctic iceberg breaks. This is as much as countries such as Sweden or New Zealand produce in a year.
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“We were very surprised to find the impact can extend up to 1,000 kilometers,” (625 miles) from the icebergs, stated professor Grant Bigg of the University of Sheffield, one of the authors of the study who pored over satellite photos of Antarctic icebergs from 2003 to 2013. One sobering statistic noted in the study was how manmade greenhouse gas emissions have grown 2 percent globally, yet that “If the giant icebergs weren’t there, it would be 2.1 to 2.2 percent.” While we shouldn’t rely on our slowly receding polar ice caps to mitigate our destructive patterns, it is fascinating to see our Earth respond to rapid climate change effects in healing ways.
Via Al Jazeera
Images via Shutterstock (1,2)