Although we are currently attempting to quell the progression of global warming, it seems that our planet itself is somewhat fighting against it as well because climate change gets slowed down by giant icebergs. This fact was already known by scientific circles around the world, but it was considered to affect greenhouse gas emissions by an insignificant amount.
The way through which icebergs fight global warming consists of them helping the growth of phytoplankton. These micro-sized organisms are capable of photosynthesis, effectively entrapping CO2 in order to produce oxygen, just like regular plants. Once these organisms die, they take their CO2 intake to the bottom of the ocean. This process is known as carbon sequestration.
The growth of phytoplankton gets increased by the release of nutrients, most commonly iron, created by melting icebergs. But this nutrient increase is only applicable to giant icebergs, with lengths over 11 miles.
By studying over 170 satellite images of icebergs from the Southern Ocean and the color of their surrounding waters, scientists were able to identify phytoplankton growth and carbon sequestration levels. The number of plankton was significantly increased over an area more than 10 times the length of the iceberg, leading to a rather significant decrease in global warming.
According to researchers, if this process would not have been present, temperatures would rise by 2.2% each year instead of their current 2% rise. Although at first glance this change might seem rather insignificant, if one would take into account that even 1 degree above the regular temperature levels can severely affect the environment, this 0.2% difference will be viewed rather differently.
But the problem of global warming still remains, even if our planet has several processes through which it regulates the constant rise in temperatures. Icebergs may somewhat help in greenhouse gas emission trapping, but one has to bear in mind that their number is fairly limited. Once giant icebergs completely melt, this safety net will be gone without a trace.
Although on a short term, as temperatures rise, the nutrient output of giant icebergs will increase as well, leading to an exponential growth in phytoplankton numbers, on a long term period, they will become less and less efficient. This is completely dependent on our actions as well. If we are not able to quell the increase in normal temperatures, the safety net will become less viable with each passing year.
Even if climate change gets slowed down by icebergs, according to several researchers and scientists, this will not last for long. We already passed the halfway point of the 2C threshold that states how the environment will suffer tremendously if temperatures rise by 2 degrees Celsius annually.