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.

Courtesy of Creative Commons
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All photos courtesy of Marie-Claire and David Archbold

However, their relationship became even sweeter when they adopted James: a little boy with a huge heart.

In the United States alone, there are roughly 122,000 children awaiting adoption according to the latest report from the U.S Department of Health and Human Services. While the goal is always for a child to be parented by and stay with their biological family, that is not always a possibility. This is where adoption offers hope—not only does it create new families, it gives birth parents an avenue through which to see their child flourish when they are not able to parent. For the right families, it's a beautiful thing.

The Archbolds knew early on that adoption was an option for them. David has three daughters from a previous marriage, but knowing their family was not yet complete, the couple embarked on a two-year journey to find their match. When the adoption agency called and told them about James, they were elated. From the moment they met him, the Archbolds knew he was meant to be part of their family. David locked eyes with the brown-eyed baby and they stared at each other in quiet wonder for such a long time that the whole room fell silent. "He still looks at me like that," said David.

The connection was mutual and instantaneous—love at first sight. The Archbolds knew that James was meant to be a part of their family. However, they faced significant challenges requiring an even deeper level of commitment due to James' medical condition.

James was born with congenital hyperinsulinism, a rare condition that causes his body to overproduce insulin, and within 2 months of his birth, he had to have surgery to remove 90% of his pancreas. There was a steep learning curve for the Archbolds, but they were already in love, and knew they were committed to the ongoing care that'd be required of bringing James into their lives. After lots of research and encouragement from James' medical team, they finally brought their son home.

Today, three-year-old James is thriving, filled with infectious joy that bubbles over and touches every person who comes in contact with him. "Part of love is when people recognize that they need to be with each other," said his adoptive grandfather. And because the Archbolds opted for an open adoption, there are even more people to love and support James as he grows.

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