Wednesday, Nov 11th, 2009
Global warming has been blamed for the alarming loss of ice shelves in Antarctica, but a new study says newly-exposed areas of sea are now soaking up some of the carbon gas that causes the problem.
Scientists led by Lloyd Peck of the British Antarctic Survey (BAS) said that atmospheric and ocean carbon is being gobbled up by microscopic marine plants called phytoplankton, which float near the surface.
After absorbing the carbon through the natural process of photosynthesis, the phytoplankton are eaten, or otherwise die and sink to the ocean floor.
The phenomenon, known as a carbon sink, has been spotted in areas of open water exposed by the recent, rapid melting of several ice shelves — vast floating plaques of ice attached to the shore of the Antarctic peninsula.
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