Melting icebergs fertilize ocean

Release of extra iron boosts carbon dioxide uptake by plankton

9:49am, May 16, 2011

Efforts to remove climate-warming carbon dioxide from Earth’s atmosphere appear to be getting a helping hand from a surprising source: the iron in meltwater from Antarctic icebergs.

Icebergs calving off of Antarctica are shedding substantial iron — the equivalent of a growth-boosting vitamin — into waters starved of the mineral, a new set of studies demonstrates. This iron is fertilizing the growth of microscopic plants and algae, transforming the waters adjacent to ice floes into teeming communities of everything from tiny shrimplike krill to fish, birds and sometimes mammals.

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