The carbon cycle of our planet plays an essential role in the management of greenhouse gases, which can be found in the atmosphere and their interaction with the climate. Ice sheets are spread across 10% of the land surface. In the past, they were deemed to be nothing more than uninhabitable wastelands covered in ice and snow.
Since the conditions are too harsh for the presence of most life forms, researchers believed that they couldn’t have any influence over the carbon cycle. A team of international researchers has elaborated a study which explores a large amount of scientific evidence collected in the last two decades. The paper argues that those ice sheets are far from being a passive presence.
According to the paper, a specific set of conditions which can be encountered beneath the ice sheets convert them into an essential reactor in the carbon cycle. As the ice grinds its way across the rocky layer liquid water and a vast number of microbes can be found in melting zones. Over time, the ice will erode the bedrock, and cold-resistant microbes which release nutrients invade the ground rock.
Ice sheets can interact with the carbon cycle
The nutrient s are absorbed by glacial meltwaters and carried to the ocean while at the same time, more nutrients are released if the margins of the glacier are surrounded by marine water. These nutrients are quite essential since they contribute to the wellbeing of fish populations and the drawdown of carbon dioxide, which can be found in the atmosphere.
One of the researchers who contributed to the study mentioned that ice sheets could store vast quantities of carbon, which is absorbed as they spread across a surface.
That is encountered that almost 20,000 billion tons of organic carbon, within the Antarctic Ice Sheet, which is up to ten times bigger than the amount caught in the Northern Hemisphere permafrost. Further research is already underway, and the study was published in a scientific journal.