New Scientist reports a controversial study that melting ice caps could actually weaken the greenhouse effect. Stanford University scientists studied satellite data from 1998 to 2007 to evaluate changes in sea surface temperatures and quantities of sea ice and phytoplankton (increased phytoplankton activity removes atmospheric carbon). What they found is startling— phytoplankton grew more in areas where ice was disappearing.
Essentially, the melting northern polar ice cap is opening up a new carbon sink that can soak up carbon dioxide. Right now, however, the sink is only able to account for 0.7 percent of our total annual carbon emissions. For productivity to rise further, more nutrients need to be brought to the Arctic surface waters. But this is unlikely—the arctic doesn’t contain many surface water nutrients.
While melting ice caps may mean a slight reduction in greenhouse gases, they also mean a drastic change in the Arctic food chain. And we may not care about atmospheric CO2 levels if our cities are flooded due to climate change. So even if melting ice caps have a slight silver lining, we shouldn’t necessarily encourage their demise.
More Posts on Global Warming:
- Satellite That Predicts Climate Change About to Launch
- New Study Says Commercial Carbon Capture Unlikely by 2020
I don't like paywalls. You don't like paywalls. Who likes paywalls? Here at CleanTechnica, we implemented a limited paywall for a while, but it always felt wrong — and it was always tough to decide what we should put behind there. In theory, your most exclusive and best content goes behind a paywall. But then fewer people read it! We just don't like paywalls, and so we've decided to ditch ours. Unfortunately, the media business is still a tough, cut-throat business with tiny margins. It's a never-ending Olympic challenge to stay above water or even perhaps — gasp — grow. So ...
Sign up for daily news updates from CleanTechnica on email. Or follow us on Google News!
Have a tip for CleanTechnica, want to advertise, or want to suggest a guest for our CleanTech Talk podcast? Contact us here.