Melting Antarctic Ice Sheets Could Slow Down Climate Change

antartica, climate change, science, biology

Melting Antarctic Ice Sheets Could Slow Down Climate Change

Nature

Melting Antarctic Ice Sheets Could Slow Down Climate Change

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As climate change and its devastating effects on Earth unfold, a paradoxical result of the melting Antarctic Ice Sheet is giving reason for hope.

According to David Barnes who spoke with PBS’ Nova Next publication, the south pole is turning into a carbon sink and the reason is pretty astounding.

As the Antarctic Ice Sheet melts, light is no longer being reflected off the icy surface that once existed and that light is allowing for a considerable amount of organisms to grow on the sea floor. The result is a growing community of “seafloor bryozoans” (commonly known as ‘moss animals’) that sequester carbon dioxide, which is absorbed by the oceans through waves crashing.

Barnes describes the introduction of life to the antarctic seafloor as “absolutely fantastic” with sea spiders the ‘size of dinner plates’ and ‘sponges large enough to sit in.’

“Some of the animals are so bizarre, you couldn’t think them up in a science fiction film. And Antarctica is just full of them.”– David Barnes, British Antarctic Survey

Antarctic Ice Fish Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Antarctic Ice Fish Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

The research, which is the culmination of over 20 years of collecting data on seafloor organisms in the antarctic region, has allowed Barnes to calculate the amount of carbon that was being appropriated by the seafloor organisms. According to his findings, the carbon ‘drawndown’ may be enough to slow the effects of climate change.

“If [Barnes’] calculations are correct, and a significant amount of carbon…is sequestered in seafloor bryozoans, then this will help contribute to the oceans serving as a greater sink for carbon dioxide than first thought.”– James McClintock, Professor of Biology @ University of Alabama at Birmingham

However, although the newly developed carbon sink in the arctic may help slow down climate change, it’s most likely not enough to stop it altogether.

In an interview with Nova Next, biologist Ken Halanych said, “This is taking up a significant part of the carbon budget—it’s not huge, it’s not going to stop [climate change], but it will make a little bit of a dent in it.”

You Can Read The Entire NOVA Next Article Here: Antarctica’s Melting Ice Sheets Could Slow Climate Change

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