A new study about the impact of climate change revealed how melting ice from giant icebergs contribute to fighting off the effects of this global environmental issue.
According to researchers, the water flowing from the melting iceberg has properties that prevent carbon dioxide from being released into the atmosphere, HNGN reported.
For the study, the researchers from the University of Sheffield used 175 satellite images of the world's oceans. Through these images, they were able to track variations in ocean color, which indicates the presence of phytoplankton, which are tiny organisms that sustain the ecosystem of oceans.
These organisms, which thrive through photosynthesis, produce organic compounds by absorbing carbon dioxide in the sea. According to the researchers, through this biological process, the growing phytoplankton community is able to store high levels of carbon dioxide, which is considered as one of the most damaging form of greenhouse gas affecting the world's environment.
The researchers then explained that the growth and survival of the phytoplankton are sustained by the water coming from melting icebergs, which have an average length of 18 kilometers based on satellite imaging, since this contains various beneficial nutrients including iron.
"We detected substantially enhanced chlorophyll levels, typically over a radius of at least four to 10 times the iceberg's length," Grant Biff, head researcher of the study said in a press statement.
"The evidence suggests that assuming carbon export increases by a factor of five to 10 over the area of influence and up to a fifth of the Southern Ocean's downward carbon flux originates with giant iceberg fertilization."
The researchers also noted that if the melting of the icebergs continue, then it could further contribute to the growth of phytoplankton in the oceans. This could then lead to a major decrease in the Earth's greenhouse gas levels.
"If giant iceberg calving increases this century as expected, this negative feedback on the carbon cycle may become more important," the researchers wrote in their report.
The study, which was published in January 11 in the scientific journal Nature, is not the first analysis that show the environmental contributions of phytoplankton. In December of last year, researchers from the University of Pennsylvania released two reports detailing the role of phytoplankton in reducing the level of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.
The research team also noted that these single-celled organisms are capable of storing carbon dioxide in the ocean even after they're dead, according to Eureka Alert.