22 Sep 2015:
Antarctic Seafloor Life Is
Locking Away a Lot of Carbon, Study Says
An Antarctic icefish swimming over bryozoans
The loss of sea ice over Antarctic waters has caused certain forms of life to flourish on the seafloor, and those underwater communities are acting as important and unexpected carbon sinks, according to research published in the journal Current Biology
. Based on studies of West Antarctic bryozoans — aquatic invertebrates sometimes referred to as "moss animals" — researchers have found that those and other seafloor organisms could play important roles in accumulating and burying carbon, removing it from the atmosphere for an extremely long time. Specimens collected from across West Antarctic seas over more than 20 years reveal major increases in the density of life on the seabed, the researchers say. They calculate that growth of the bryozoans has nearly doubled, with the animals taking in more than 200,000 tons of carbon per year since the 1980s. Extrapolating the findings to account for other undersea species, the researchers suggest that roughly 3 million tons of carbon are sequestered each year, equivalent to nearly 200 square miles of tropical rainforest.
Yale Environment 360 is
a publication of the
Yale School of Forestry
& Environmental Studies
Yale Environment 360
articles are now available in Spanish and Portuguese on Universia
, the online educational network. Visit the site.
Business & Innovation
Policy & Politics
Pollution & Health
Science & Technology
Antarctica and the Arctic
Central & South America
Tribal people and ranchers join together to stop a project that would haul coal across their Montana land. Watch the video.
is now available for mobile devices at e360.yale.edu/mobile
An aerial view of why Europe’s per capita carbon emissions are less than 50 percent of those in the U.S. View the photos.
The 2015 Yale e360 Video Contest winner documents a Northeastern town's bitter battle over a wind farm. Watch the video.
video series looks at the staggering amount of food wasted in the U.S. – a problem with major human and environmental costs. Watch the video.
video goes onto the front lines with Colorado firefighters confronting deadly blazes fueled by a hotter, drier climate. Watch the video.
A three-part series Tainted Harvest
looks at the soil pollution crisis in China, the threat it poses to the food supply, and the complexity of any cleanup. Read the series.