sail-world.com
 
 
News Home Video Gallery Photo 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





































America's Cup Book Review: Winging It - Oracle Team USA's comeback *Feature by Richard Gladwell Sail-World.com/nz,




Rolex China Sea Race 2014 - nip and tuck for IRC honours by RHKYC and Guy Nowell, Sail-World Asia, Hong Kong


























HUD Vision: An interview with Afterguard Marine’s Alex Moret *Feature
ISAF Sailing World Cup Hyeres - US Sailing Team ready for action
Volvo Ocean Race - Dongfeng Race Team first official qualifier
Springtime boat buyers need to take care of a few key things
ISAF Match Race Rankings for 16 April 2014
ISAF Sailing World Cup Hyeres – World’s best to race on French Riviera
Rolex China Sea Race – Fleet off to a clean start
America's Cup: Expected de Ridder penalty should be reduced *Feature
World Youth Sailing Week – Second edition officially presented + Video
Rolex China Sea Race - Sailing classic returns
Les Voiles de St Barth – Fired up for battle
CNN Mainsail Down Under for the 75th JJ Giltinan Trophy - 18ft skiffs
Volvo Ocean Race: North Sails on outfitting the Volvo 65
Image gallery: James Cook High's Royal encounter on Steinlager 2 *Feature
Volvo Ocean Race - Maersk Line named shipping partner
Congressional Cup - Victory for Taylor Canfield and crew
SSV Oliver Hazard Perry joins America's Tall Ship fleet + Video
2014 Halifax – Saint-Pierre Ocean Race
Oyster Regatta Antigua - Glorious conditions prevail on final day
WWA Pro Card Qualifier - Pro Cards earned at Freedom Wake Park
Christmas Caribbean Rally - Top class sailors to compete   
Earth Day boater tips   
Anna Tunnicliffe - from CrossFit to Extreme 40's   
Charleston Race Week - Photos by Chris Howell   
Image Gallery: Stratis SL33 flies on the Waitemata   
Audi Melges 20- Sperry Topsider Charleston Race Week - Light final day   
Clipper Round the World Yacht Race - PSP Logistics prepares for USA   
ISAF Sailing World Cup Hyères - Crème of the crop to compete   
Congressional Cup: Luna Rossa makes podium in first event   
Int 14 World Championships 2015 launch new event website   
International Optimist Regatta Clinic and Team Race - Register now!   
Congressional Cup: World top rankers finish that way in Long Beach   
Sperry Top-Sider Charleston Race Week Day 3 finale   
America's Cup: Gino Morrelli outlines the new AC62 design   
Doyle Sails New Zealand signs Andrew Brown as One Design Manager   
America's Cup: Dean Barker's Blog - A sail with the Duke and Duchess *Feature   
29er World Youth Sailing Week Easter regatta - Day 1 and 2 overall   
C Thomas Clagett Jr Memorial Clinic/Regatta - Entries start to roll in   
50th Congressional Cup: See the delayed coverage and media conferences   
Clipper Race 10 Day 27: Closing stages - Qingdao to San Francisco   


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.
X6XL NEW US