Melting glaciers bring carbon influx to ocean

Melting glaciers bring carbon influx to ocean

Amanda Schupak | CBS News

In addition to adding water to the oceans, eroding ice sheets are also contributing significant amounts of carbon that feed the bottom of the food chain in marine ecosystems.

"This is the first attempt to figure out how much organic carbon is in those glaciers and how much will be released when they melt," said Robert Spencer of Florida State University, one of the authors of a study out Monday in Nature Geoscience looking at the impact of this release.

They estimate that the release will increase by 50 percent over the next 35 years, as glaciers and ice sheets continue to melt at a rapid pace.

Spencer and team collect data from Tibet, among other countries.
Credit: Robert Spencer/ Florida State

"Naturally as glaciers melt there may be a short-term increase in the flux of organic carbon into marine ecosystems but that will of course decline as glaciers continue to shrink," Spencer told CBS News. "It's a short term increase for a very long term loss."

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