Glacial meltwater has been known to contain phosphorus, but as Greenland ice sheet melts, it could be releasing more of phosphorus — a key nutrient that can enrich waters of the oceans, potentially stimulating the growth of marine food chain, finds a new study.
The total phosphorus concentrations found in the meltwater of the Leverett glacier in Antarctica was 10 times greater than concentrations found in Arctic river waters.
The rising nutrient level could speed up the biological activity of the Arctic waters. It can stimulate growth of plankton — a diverse group of organisms that live in large water bodies and provide a crucial source of food to fishes —— at the base of the ocean food web, which could impact birds, fish and marine mammals higher up the food chain, the researchers indicated.
The large Leverett Glacier is more representative of the glaciers that contribute the bulk of meltwater coming from the Greenland ice sheet.