Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Antarctic icebergs: unlikely oases for ocean life

25.06.2007
NSF makes image, video available

Icebergs have long gripped the popular imagination, whether as relatively run-of-the-mill floating hazards that cause "unsinkable' ships to founder or, more recently, as enormous breakaway pieces of ice the size of states or small countries.

But, according to a paper published in this week's Science magazine, scientists have discovered that these floating ice islands--some as large as a dozen miles across--have a major impact on the ecology of the ocean around them, serving as "hotspots" for ocean life, with thriving communities of seabirds above and a web of phytoplankton, krill and fish below.

The icebergs hold trapped terrestrial material, which they release far out at sea as they melt. Scientists have discovered that this process produces a "halo effect" with significantly increased nutrients, chlorophyll and krill out to a radius of more than 3 kilometers (2 miles).

Based on their new understanding of the role of icebergs in the ecosystem and the sheer number of icebergs in the Southern Ocean--the researchers counted more than 11,000 in satellite images of some 4,300 square miles of ocean--the scientists estimate that, overall, the icebergs are raising the biological productivity of nearly 40 percent of Antarctica's Weddell Sea.

Scientists also have begun to suspect, but argue for additional study, that icebergs may also play a surprising role in global climate regulation by removing carbon from the atmosphere.

The National Science Foundation (NSF) funded research was conducted by scientists from the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute, the San Diego Supercomputer Center, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, the University of San Diego and the University of South Carolina.

As manager of the U.S. Antarctic Program, NSF coordinates and provides logistical support to all U.S. research conducted on the southernmost continent. The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy has designated NSF as the lead agency for the International Polar Year, a global scientific deployment to the Polar Regions that began in March 2007.

NSF officials agreed that the new research may open a new and productive field for ecosystem research at the dawn of the Polar Year.

"This research establishes yet another promising horizon for polar ecology," said Roberta Marinelli, organisms and ecosystems program director for the U.S. Antarctic Program. "And as we progress through the International Polar Year, NSF hopes to expand this work to learn yet more about these unique ecological niches and their significance to oceanic processes."

Peter West | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.nsf.gov/news/

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht Safeguarding sustainability through forest certification mapping
27.06.2017 | International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)

nachricht Dune ecosystem modelling
26.06.2017 | Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg im Breisgau

All articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

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...

Im Focus: The proton precisely weighted

What is the mass of a proton? Scientists from Germany and Japan successfully did an important step towards the most exact knowledge of this fundamental constant. By means of precision measurements on a single proton, they could improve the precision by a factor of three and also correct the existing value.

To determine the mass of a single proton still more accurate – a group of physicists led by Klaus Blaum and Sven Sturm of the Max Planck Institute for Nuclear...

Im Focus: On the way to a biological alternative

A bacterial enzyme enables reactions that open up alternatives to key industrial chemical processes

The research team of Prof. Dr. Oliver Einsle at the University of Freiburg's Institute of Biochemistry has long been exploring the functioning of nitrogenase....

Im Focus: The 1 trillion tonne iceberg

Larsen C Ice Shelf rift finally breaks through

A one trillion tonne iceberg - one of the biggest ever recorded -- has calved away from the Larsen C Ice Shelf in Antarctica, after a rift in the ice,...

Im Focus: Laser-cooled ions contribute to better understanding of friction

Physics supports biology: Researchers from PTB have developed a model system to investigate friction phenomena with atomic precision

Friction: what you want from car brakes, otherwise rather a nuisance. In any case, it is useful to know as precisely as possible how friction phenomena arise –...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

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

The technology with a feel for feelings

12.07.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

NASA looks to solar eclipse to help understand Earth's energy system

21.07.2017 | Earth Sciences

Stanford researchers develop a new type of soft, growing robot

21.07.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Vortex photons from electrons in circular motion

21.07.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>