#Icebergs, #sea #ice, blue #carbon and #Antarctic climate feedbacks (Phil Transact Roy Soc A, abstract)

[Source: Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society A, full page: (LINK). Abstract, edited.]

Icebergs, sea ice, blue carbon and Antarctic climate feedbacks

David K. A. Barnes, Andrew Fleming, Chester J. Sands, Maria Liliana Quartino, Dolores Deregibus

Published 14 May 2018. DOI: 10.1098/rsta.2017.0176



Sea ice, including icebergs, has a complex relationship with the carbon held within animals (blue carbon) in the polar regions. Sea-ice losses around West Antarctica’s continental shelf generate longer phytoplankton blooms but also make it a hotspot for coastal iceberg disturbance. This matters because in polar regions ice scour limits blue carbon storage ecosystem services, which work as a powerful negative feedback on climate change (less sea ice increases phytoplankton blooms, benthic growth, seabed carbon and sequestration). This resets benthic biota succession (maintaining regional biodiversity) and also fertilizes the ocean with nutrients, generating phytoplankton blooms, which cascade carbon capture into seabed storage and burial by benthos. Small icebergs scour coastal shallows, whereas giant icebergs ground deeper, offshore. Significant benthic communities establish where ice shelves have disintegrated (giant icebergs calving), and rapidly grow to accumulate blue carbon storage. When 5000 km2 giant icebergs calve, we estimate that they generate approximately 106 tonnes of immobilized zoobenthic carbon per year (t C yr−1). However, their collisions with the seabed crush and recycle vast benthic communities, costing an estimated 4 × 104 t C yr−1. We calculate that giant iceberg formation (ice shelf disintegration) has a net potential of approximately 106 t C yr−1 sequestration benefits as well as more widely known negative impacts.

This article is part of the theme issue ‘The marine system of the West Antarctic Peninsula: status and strategy for progress in a region of rapid change’.

Keywords: Climate Change; Global Warming; Antarctica.


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Giuseppe Michieli

I am an Italian blogger, active since 2005 with main focus on emerging infectious diseases such as avian influenza, SARS, antibiotics resistance, and many other global Health issues. Other fields of interest are: climate change, global warming, geological and biological sciences. My activity consists mainly in collection and analysis of news, public services updates, confronting sources and making decision about what are the 'signals' of an impending crisis (an outbreak, for example). When a signal is detected, I follow traces during the entire course of an event. I started in 2005 my blog ''A TIME'S MEMORY'', now with more than 40,000 posts and 3 millions of web interactions. Subsequently I added an Italian Language blog, then discontinued because of very low traffic and interest. I contributed for seven years to a public forum (FluTrackers.com) in the midst of the Ebola epidemic in West Africa in 2014, I left the site to continue alone my data tracking job.