sail-world.com
 
 
News Home Cruising Photo Gallery Video Gallery
Sail-World.com : Microbial life assumes important role in glacier behavior
Microbial life assumes important role in glacier behavior

'Glacier'    British Antarctic Survey ©
In this week’s edition of Nature Geoscience, a group of international scientists take a tour to the coldest regions on the planet in an attempt to learn more about the biological processes on glaciers surfaces and its role in the physical behavior of these ice giants.

Around 10% of the Earth’s surface is covered by glacial ice (glaciers and ice sheets), some of which melt as part of a natural cycle for a few months each year. Although the physical aspect of glacier and ice sheet melting at both polar regions has been extensively studied, biological processes and their role in the physical behaviour of glaciers and the global carbon cycle have received less attention up until now.

Reporting this week in the journal Nature Geoscience, an international team of scientists review our current understanding of biological processes on glacier surfaces and how these affect the physical and chemical properties of glaciers.

Globally, around 5% of glacier surfaces melt as part of a natural cycle for a few months each year. The surface melt water harbours microbial life – such as cyanobacteria and algae – carried there by the wind. These tiny microbes become active during the melting season and concentrate in patches on the ice. As part of their life cycle, the micro-organisms produce dark pigments which subsequently decrease the reflectivity of the ice surface promoting the rate of melting.

The photosynthetic micro-organisms on the surface of glaciers act as a carbon sink by capturing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and converting this into organic carbon. However, the carbon is then processed by other microbial communities on the ice and released as carbon dioxide back into the atmosphere, thus acting as a carbon dioxide source. Therefore it is unclear whether glacier ecosystems act as a global carbon sink or source.

It is thought however that the more stable parts of Arctic and Antarctic glaciers and ice sheets are likely to act as a sink for carbon dioxide, while small glaciers, mountain glaciers, and the edges of ice sheets, which are more likely to melt quickly, release more carbon into the atmosphere than they fix.

As glaciers melt in response to climate change, carbon not consumed by the microbes on the ice is exported by streams and rivers, which may increase productivity of downstream soil, lake communities and coastal waters. Besides micro-organisms and nutrients, the melt water may also carry toxins and harmful substances that were temporarily stored within the glacier ice.

Biological processes on glacier surfaces clearly play an important role in the physical behaviour of glaciers, particularly in the melting of the ice. Therefore, it is important to include these when new global carbon budgets and climate models are created.

Most data compiled for this study came from field observations from relatively easily accessible sites such as mountain glaciers, Svalbard and Greenland due to the inaccessibility of many parts of the Southern Hemisphere.


by British Antarctic Survey

  

Click on the FB Like link to post this story to your FB wall

http://www.sail-world.com/index.cfm?nid=103674

7:15 AM Sat 10 Nov 2012GMT


Click here for printer friendly version
Click here to send us feedback or comments about this story.







News - USA and the World















2014 Pacific Cup - Scarlet Runner wins by Vanessa Yates, Hawaii




















































Rolex Big Boat Series - Golden Jubilee to take place this September
DH Pacific Cup - Running with the pack + Video
Women's Match Race Golfe du Morbihan - Testing day in Vannes
Brewin Dolphin Commodores' Cup - Ireland establishes solid lead
International Moth Worlds: Outteridge charges into the lead + Video
Marina Rubicón Round Canary Islands Race - First blood to Team Brunel
ISAF Youth Match Racing Worlds - Competition heats up on day 2
Laser Radial World Championships - Competition aplenty on day 3 +Video
Extreme Sailing Series - Penultimate Act to take place in Nice
Leukemia Cup - Images by Leighton O'Connor
Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup - Meeting of the grand designs
29er North American Championship - Final series kicks off
29er World Championship 2014 set to start in Kingston, Ontario
Barcelona and Parnu chosen for 2015 ORC championship events
2014 Race for Rady Yacht Race - Benefiting Rady Children’s hospital
CMRC Summer Invitational Series - Doubleheader events start tomorrow
BIC Techno 293 Worlds 2014 - Day 3
Sailing through STEM Night at California YC
Six Metre European Championship - High temps and little wind on day 3
Women’s Match Race Golfe du Morbihan - Light wind opener in Vannes
International Moth Worlds: Rashley ahead as Aussies close in   
Brewin Dolphin Commodores' Cup - Unsatisfactory conditions on day 4   
ISAF Youth Match Racing Worlds - American unbeatable on day 1   
RS Feva World Championships - All set at Yacht Club de Carnac   
ISAF Rolex World Sailor of the Year Awards - Nominations now open   
BIC Techno 293 Worlds - Steady winds on day 2 + Video   
29er North American Open Championship - Qualifying series wraps up   
Opening ceremony O'pen Bic World Cup, Travemunde Week, Germany   
Six Metre Europeans - Wind fails to make an appearance on day 2   
Edgartown Race Weekend - Let the sailing (and good times) begin   
ISAF Youth Match Racing World Championship - Action commences July 23   
International Moth Worlds - Mothballed on day 4 + Video   
Brewin Dolphin Commodores' Cup - Ireland remains out front   
Spirits high as Team Alvimedica completes Transatlantic crossing   
Gladwell's Line: A change of direction needed in the America's Cup *Feature   
29er North American Championship - Day 1 in Kingston   
Red Bull 49erFX: First look at the Olympic sailing venue at Rio   
Fuerteventura Kiteboarding Grand Slam - Classic conditions on day 3   
NYYC Race Week Part II images by Rolex/Daniel Forster   
Drowning or electric shock? What you need to know to help save a life   


For this week's complete news stories select    Last 7 Days
   Search All News
For last month's complete news stories select    Last 30 Days
   Archive News







Sail-World.com  


















Switch Default Region to:

Social Media

Asia

Australia

Canada

Europe

New Zealand

United Kingdom


http://www.sail-world.com/event_images/image/Twitter_logo_small.png http://www.sail-world.com/event_images/image/FaceBook-icon.png  http://www.sail-world.com/event_images/image/RSS-Icon.png

United States

Cruising Northern

Cruising Southern

MarineBusiness World

PowerBoat World

FishingBoating World

 

Contact

Commercial

News

Search

Contact Us

Advertisers Information

Submit news/events

Search Stories/Text

Feedback

Advertisers Directory

Newsletter Archive

Photo Gallery

 

Banner Advertising Details

Newsletter Subscribe

Video Gallery

Policies

 

 

 

Privacy Policy

 

 


Cookie Policy

 

 



This site and its contents are © Copyright TetraMedia and/or the original author, photographer etc. All Rights Reserved.  Photographs are copyright by law.  If you wish to use or buy a photograph contact the photographer directly.
XLXL WAS US
LocalAds   DE  ES  FR  IT