How giant icebergs could be fighting climate change

All else being equal, global warming means more giant icebergs breaking off Antarctica and sliding into the ocean. But, as these massive hunks of ice float around the Southern Ocean, their meltwater is stimulating a process that is fighting back.

As icebergs slowly melt into the sea, they deposit nutrients, such as iron, that fertilize phytoplankton, the microscopic marine plants that live at the water’s surface. Blooms of phytoplankton consume carbon dioxide through photosynthesis, which takes the carbon out of the atmosphere, which in turn slows global warming.

Scientists have known about this phenomenon for years, but a new study suggests giant icebergs, stretching over 11 miles long, could be responsible for 10 to 20 percent of carbon sequestration the Southern Ocean.

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