A study recently completed in the gulf coast of Alaska by federal and university researchers has found that as glacial ice disappears, the production and export of high- quality food from glacial watersheds to marine ecosystems may disappear too. This trend could have serious consequences for marine food webs.
The study, “Glaciers as a source of ancient and labile organic matter to the marine environment,” was recently published in the December 24, 2009, issue of the journal Nature.
The research, which was conducted on 11 coastal watersheds in the Gulf of Alaska, has documented an interesting paradox with important implications for coastal ecosystems. “Glacial watersheds comprise 30 percent of the Tongass National Forest and supply about 35 to 40 percent of the stream discharge,” says Rick Edwards, a coauthor on the study. “These watersheds export dissolved organic matter that is remarkably biologically active in contrast to that found in other rivers. Generally, scientists expect that organic matter decreases in its quality as a food source as it ages, becoming less and less active over time.”
But the dissolved organic material discharged from the glacial watersheds in this study was almost 4,000 years old; yet surprisingly, more than 66 percent of it was rapidly metabolized by marine microbes into living biomass to support marine food webs, adds Edwards.
…The quality of the dissolved organic matter is so high that 23 to 66 percent is used by marine micro-organisms and incorporated into food webs supporting higher organisms.
As glaciers recede and disappear, the input of this valuable food source will decrease with unknown impacts on productivity of marine food webs.
If science deniers do not or chose not to understand global warming, imagine trying to explain the importance of 4000 year old left overs. Alaska’s fisheries continue to decline in quality and quantity which has means a steady decline in fisheries income and employment.
Not surprising. A survey conducted by the liberal media watchdog group Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting, which focused on the first two weeks of February 2003, found that of 393 people interviewed on-camera for network news reports about the war, just 17 percent of them expressed skepticism about the looming invasion. This at a time when polling showed that approximately 50 percent of Americans had doubts about the planned war. And according to figures from media analyst Andrew Tyndall, of the 414 Iraq stories broadcast on NBC, ABC, and CBS from September 2002 until February 2003, almost all the stories could be traced back to sources from the White House, the Pentagon, or the State Department. Just 8 percent of the television news reports were of independent origin.
It was starting in 2003 that we learned the term “military analyst” was just a synonym for reads conservative faxes on air for fun and profit.