Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Food Chain May Be Altered Due to Fossil Fuel Remnants in Glaciers

23.02.2012
One of North America's largest icefields is the laboratory for a study revealing that the remnants of fossil fuels in glaciers may be changing the source of food for marine life down the food chain.

University of Alaska Southeast Associate Professor Eran Hood is the second author of the study, to be published in the international journal Nature Geoscience in March 2012 and published on-line this week. "When we look at the marine food webs today, we may be seeing a picture that is significantly different from what existed before the late-18th century," said first author Aron Stubbins of the Skidaway Institute of Oceanography.

Hood led the fieldwork on glaciers in Juneau, Alaska where visiting scholar-scientists from throughout the Lower 48 sampled snow, ice melt, and glacier runoff. The organic carbon from these water and snow samples was isolated and carbon dated. “We analyzed its molecular chemical structure,” said Hood. “The carbon fingerprint we found indicated aerosols derived from the combustion of fossil fuels are an important source of organic matter on glacier surfaces and also in glacier outflow streams.”

The scientists said glaciers like the Mendenhall offer ideal evidence of soot from carbon emissions. This "black carbon," darkens glacier surfaces and increases their absorption of light and heat. The carbon can also be exported to ecosystems downstream from glaciers where it can be metabolized and become part of the food web.

"These findings show that glaciers like Mendenhall can provide us with novel information about how humans are altering the composition of the atmosphere as a result of burning biomass and fossil fuels" said Hood. "The fact that we see this human-derived carbon signature in Alaskan glaciers also indicates that we still do not fully appreciate the post-industrial changes in the earth's surface biogeochemical cycles."

Glaciers and ice sheets together represent the second largest reservoir of water on the planet, and glacier ecosystems cover ten percent of the Earth, yet the carbon dynamics underpinning those ecosystems remain poorly understood. "Improving our understanding of glacier biogeochemistry is of great urgency, as glacier environments are among the most sensitive to climate change and the effects of industrial pollution,” emphasized Rob Spencer of the Woods Hole Research Center, another author on the study.

A warming climate will increase the outflow of the glaciers and the accompanying input of dissolved organic material into the coastal ocean. This will be most keenly felt in glacial coastal regions with the highest levels of ice loss including the Gulf of Alaska, Greenland and Patagonia.

The title of the study is “Anthropogenic aerosols as a source of ancient dissolved organic matter in glaciers.” In addition to Stubbins and Spencer, Hood’s fellow collaborators on the project were Andrew Vermilyea from the University of Alaska Southeast; Peter Raymond and David Butman from Yale University; George Aiken, Robert Striegl and Paul Schuster from the U.S. Geological Survey; Rachel Sleighter, Hussain Abdulla and Patrick Hatcher from Old Dominion University; Peter Hernes from the University of California-Davis; Durelle Scott from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University.

More information and a slideshow of photographs by Hood can be found in the U.S. National Science Foundation on-line article, “Scientists Unlock Record of Ecosystem Changes Frozen in World's Glaciers”: http://www.nsf.gov/news/news_summ.jsp?cntn_id=123154

Eran Hood
Associate Professor, Department Chair Environmental Science & Geography Program
University of Alaska Southeast
Juneau, Alaska
(907) 796-6244
ewhood@uas.alaska.edu

Eran Hood | Newswise Science News
Further information:
http://www.alaska.edu
http://www.nsf.gov/news/news_summ.jsp?cntn_id=123154

More articles from Earth Sciences:

nachricht Large-Mouthed Fish Was Top Predator After Mass Extinction
26.07.2017 | Universität Zürich

nachricht Strength of tectonic plates may explain shape of the Tibetan Plateau, study finds
25.07.2017 | University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

All articles from Earth Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Physicists Design Ultrafocused Pulses

Physicists working with researcher Oriol Romero-Isart devised a new simple scheme to theoretically generate arbitrarily short and focused electromagnetic fields. This new tool could be used for precise sensing and in microscopy.

Microwaves, heat radiation, light and X-radiation are examples for electromagnetic waves. Many applications require to focus the electromagnetic fields to...

Im Focus: Carbon Nanotubes Turn Electrical Current into Light-emitting Quasi-particles

Strong light-matter coupling in these semiconducting tubes may hold the key to electrically pumped lasers

Light-matter quasi-particles can be generated electrically in semiconducting carbon nanotubes. Material scientists and physicists from Heidelberg University...

Im Focus: Flexible proximity sensor creates smart surfaces

Fraunhofer IPA has developed a proximity sensor made from silicone and carbon nanotubes (CNT) which detects objects and determines their position. The materials and printing process used mean that the sensor is extremely flexible, economical and can be used for large surfaces. Industry and research partners can use and further develop this innovation straight away.

At first glance, the proximity sensor appears to be nothing special: a thin, elastic layer of silicone onto which black square surfaces are printed, but these...

Im Focus: 3-D scanning with water

3-D shape acquisition using water displacement as the shape sensor for the reconstruction of complex objects

A global team of computer scientists and engineers have developed an innovative technique that more completely reconstructs challenging 3D objects. An ancient...

Im Focus: Manipulating Electron Spins Without Loss of Information

Physicists have developed a new technique that uses electrical voltages to control the electron spin on a chip. The newly-developed method provides protection from spin decay, meaning that the contained information can be maintained and transmitted over comparatively large distances, as has been demonstrated by a team from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics and the Swiss Nanoscience Institute. The results have been published in Physical Review X.

For several years, researchers have been trying to use the spin of an electron to store and transmit information. The spin of each electron is always coupled...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Clash of Realities 2017: Registration now open. International Conference at TH Köln

26.07.2017 | Event News

Closing the Sustainability Circle: Protection of Food with Biobased Materials

21.07.2017 | Event News

»We are bringing Additive Manufacturing to SMEs«

19.07.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Programming cells with computer-like logic

27.07.2017 | Life Sciences

Identified the component that allows a lethal bacteria to spread resistance to antibiotics

27.07.2017 | Life Sciences

Malaria Already Endemic in the Mediterranean by the Roman Period

27.07.2017 | Health and Medicine

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>