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Glacial Meltwater Flushing Phosphorus into Ocean’s
Greenland's glacial rivers may flush some 400,000 tons of phosphorus into ocean waters—on par with the Mississippi or the Amazon. Christopher Intagliata reports.

The massive ice sheet topping Greenland is losing nearly 300 billion tons a year to melting, according to NASA estimates. And all that meltwater means rising seas. But it's also dumping huge amounts of nutrients and minerals into Arctic waters.

That meltwater funnels rock dust into Greenland's glacial rivers, where Hawkings and his colleagues took their samples. They found that Greenland's rivers are much richer in phosphorus than previously believed. And they estimate that Greenland's glacial rivers may flush some 400,000 tons of phosphorus into ocean waters every year.

All that extra phosphorus could be fertilizer for ocean life. "It's an essential nutrient for phytoplankton, who are the guys on the bottom of the food chain. So it's really, really important for life. And life can't exist without it."



 
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