Who's ready for some good news about icebergs? Because they're doing something cool.

Who’s ready for some ACTUALLY GOOD NEWS about icebergs?!

Ooo! Ooo! I am! Image from NOAA's National Ocean Service/Flickr.


Because icebergs kind of get a bad rap.

Every time we hear about icebergs, it's because of something negative. Melting glaciers. Rising sea levels. Wrecked ocean liners.

Bad stuff, icebergs, bad stuff.

You sink one ship... Image from Willy Stöwer/Wikimedia Commons.

But it turns out, icebergs aren't all bad.

I mean, nothing covered in penguins can be THAT terrible. Image from Jason Auch/Wikimedia Commons.

Icebergs are basically giant fertilizer bags for the ocean, scientists have found.

As icebergs melt, they release minerals like iron into the ocean. These minerals can act like fertilizer, encouraging the growth of microscopic marine plants known as phytoplankton.

Image from Prof. Gordon T. Taylor, Stony Brook University/Wikimedia Commons.

In fact, you can track where an iceberg has passed by watching where new phytoplankton growth happens. One group from the University of Sheffield looked at satellite images and found that the fertilization effect can last for more than a month after an iceberg has passed through an area.

As the phytoplankton grow, they absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere for photosynthesis. This new plant growth captures carbon, helping to reduce climate change.

When the phytoplankton die, some of them sink to the bottom of the ocean, effectively trapping all that carbon down there, a process known as carbon sequestration.

Plankton blooms can sometimes be large enough to see from space, so that's a LOT of carbon. Image from NASA/WIkimedia Commons.

We've known about this effect for a while, but that study from the University of Sheffield says that icebergs may be responsible for as much as a fifth of the carbon sequestration in the ocean around Antarctica.

This is a very good thing because it keeps the carbon out of the atmosphere and slows climate change.

As climate change continues and the Earth gets hotter, it's expected that there will be a lot more icebergs in the future as ice shelves and glaciers break up, creating new 'bergs.

"It's not you, it's me, glacier."

This means the icebergs' effect on the ocean's carbon sequestration might become more and more important in slowing the effects of climate change.

"If giant iceberg calving increases this century as expected, this negative feedback on the carbon cycle may become more important than we previously thought," said Professor Grant Bigg, who led the Sheffield study.

While it's certainly better for everyone if most icebergs stay with their parent glaciers, they're not inherently bad on their own.

Let's be clear, icebergs are not going to save us from climate change. We can't just dump them in the ocean and hope things will get better. This isn't "Futurama."

As much as we wish it was. GIF from "Futurama."

Carbon sequestration isn't going to offset the more than 5 billion tons of carbon dioxide we're putting into the atmosphere each year. But understanding icebergs and their role in carbon sequestration can help us find new ways to talk about potential solutions.

We still need to do a lot to fight climate change, but it's cool to see that nature is helping us do that all on its own.

Yeah, nature! Image from iStock.

The Earth is a very complex system with a lot of different little processes that all add up to one beautiful planet. The more we know about how it works, the more we can do to keep it healthy, whole, and habitable.

Heroes
Facebook / Mikhail Galin

Putting your pet in cargo during a flight isn't always safe. In 2016, the Department of Transportation reported a total of 26 pet deaths and 22 injuries on flights. Because conditions in cargo can be uncomfortable for animals, the Humane Society recommends taking your pet aboard when you fly, or just leaving it at home.

It's not surprising that one Russian man didn't want to put his overweight cat in cargo during an eight-hour flight from Moscow to Vladivostok. What is surprising is the great lengths he took to fly with his four-legged friend.

Russian airline Aeroflot allows pets to fly inside the plane's cabin, as long as the cat weighs under 17.6 pounds and stays in its carrier during the flight. When Mikhail Galin went to check in, he was told he couldn't fly with his four-year old cat, Viktor. Viktor weighed in at 22 pounds and would have to be relegated to cargo.

But Viktor was sick from their earlier flight from Riga, Latvia to Moscow. And besides, Viktor had been allowed to fly inside the cabin during that flight. The airline staff didn't even bother to make Viktor sit on the scales. Galin was unable to persuade staff to bring his fur baby on board.

"To all attempts to explain that the cat won't survive there on an 8-hour flight with the baggage and would haunt her in her nightmares for the rest of her life, she (the Aeroflot staff member) replied that there are rules," Galin wrote in a Facebook post translated from Russian.

Keep Reading Show less
popular
Photo by Kelvin Octa from Pexels

Newborn babies don't seem to do much beyond eating and pooping and, of course, hiccupping. A lot. Parenting advice on how to cure a baby's hiccups runs the whole gamut. It's recommended parents try everything from nursing to stop feeding the baby so much, from giving the baby gripe water to letting the hiccups play their course. But when your baby hiccups too much, you shouldn't freak out. There's a good reason why.

A new study published in Clinical Neurophysiology found that hiccups play an important role in a baby's development. Researchers from the University College London found 217 babies for their study, but only looked at 13 newborns with persistent hiccups. Ten of those babies hiccupped when they were awake, and three hiccupped during their "wriggly" sleep. We have no idea how the scientists got any work done with all that cuteness lying around.

Keep Reading Show less
popular
via The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon / YouTube

Actress Kristen Bell and "The Tonight Show" host Jimmy Fallon showed off their vocal and comedic chops on Tuesday night when the performed a medley of 17 Disney songs, spanning nine decades, in just five minutes.

The duo started with 1940's "When You Wish Upon a Star" and ended with 2013's "Let it Go" from "Frozen."

Bell will reprise her role as Anna in Disney's upcoming "Frozen 2."

Keep Reading Show less
popular

Ask almost any woman about a time a man said or did something sexually inappropriate to them, and she'll have a story or four to tell. According to a survey NPR published last year, 81% of women report having experienced sexual harassment, with verbal harassment being the most common. (By contrast, 43% of men report being sexually harassed. Naturally harassment toward anyone of any sex or gender is not okay, but women have been putting up with this ish unchecked for centuries.)

One form of verbal sexual harassment is the all too common sexist or sexual "joke." Ha ha ha, I'm going to say something explicit or demeaning about you and then we can all laugh about how hilarious it is. And I'll probably get away with it because you'll be too embarrassed to say anything, and if you do you'll be accused of being overly sensitive. Ha! Won't that be a hoot?

Keep Reading Show less
popular