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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.

A breastfeeding mother's experience at Vienna's Schoenbrunn Zoo is touching people's hearts—but not without a fair amount of controversy.

Gemma Copeland shared her story on Facebook, which was then picked up by the Facebook page Boobie Babies. Photos show the mom breastfeeding her baby next to the window of the zoo's orangutan habitat, with a female orangutan sitting close to the glass, gazing at them.

"Today I got feeding support from the most unlikely of places, the most surreal moment of my life that had me in tears," Copeland wrote.

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RumorGuard by The News Literacy Project.

The 2016 election was a watershed moment when misinformation online became a serious problem and had enormous consequences. Even though social media sites have tried to slow the spread of misleading information, it doesn’t show any signs of letting up.

A NewsGuard report from 2020 found that engagement with unreliable sites between 2019 and 2020 doubled over that time period. But we don’t need studies to show that misinformation is a huge problem. The fact that COVID-19 misinformation was such a hindrance to stopping the virus and one-third of American voters believe that the 2020 election was stolen is proof enough.

What’s worse is that according to Pew Research, only 26% of American adults are able to distinguish between fact and opinion.

To help teach Americans how to discern real news from fake news, The News Literacy Project has created a new website called RumorGuard that debunks questionable news stories and teaches people how to become more news literate.

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Family

A mom describes her tween son's brain. It's a must-read for all parents.

"Sometimes I just feel really angry and I don’t know why."

This story originally appeared on 1.05.19


It started with a simple, sincere question from a mother of an 11-year-old boy.

An anonymous mother posted a question to Quora, a website where people can ask questions and other people can answer them. This mother wrote:

How do I tell my wonderful 11 year old son, (in a way that won't tear him down), that the way he has started talking to me (disrespectfully) makes me not want to be around him (I've already told him the bad attitude is unacceptable)?

It's a familiar scenario for those of us who have raised kids into the teen years. Our sweet, snuggly little kids turn into moody middle schoolers seemingly overnight, and sometimes we're left reeling trying to figure out how to handle their sensitive-yet-insensitive selves.


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