Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Dislodged Iceberg May Disrupt Ocean Currents

Earlier this month, a giant iceberg collided with a portion of the Mertz Glacier in Antarctica, and in so doing broke off an immense "Superberg" that is 48 miles long and about 24 miles wide.

According to Circle of Blue, scientists are concerned about global ocean currents being drastically altered now that the detached iceberg has endangered a major polynya (an ice-free area of water surrounded by sea ice).

It's believed that 25% of Antarctic bottom water originated in the polynya, making it an important factor in the ocean's circulation. If sea ice fills in the polynya, it could slow the ocean bottom currents which are crucial for transferring heat and distributing oxygen. Needless to say, a drastic change such as this could very well have a catastrophic effect on marine ecosystems around the world.