Why some icebergs in Antarctica are green? Scientists find answer finally


Icebergs in Antarctica are usually either white or blue in color, but since the early 1990s, several scientists and explorers have seen green icebergs in the polar region. Green icebergs have perplexed geologists since its discovery and the real reason behind this phenomenon continued as a mystery. But now, a new study report published in the Journal of Geophysical Research: Oceans has apparently cracked this mystery.

The new study report indicates that iron oxides in rock dust from Antarctica's mainland might be turning some icebergs to green. Scientists who took part in this research decided to finalize this theory after Australian researchers discovered large amounts of iron in East Antarctica's Amery Ice Shelf.

It should be noted that iron is one of the most necessary nutrients required for phytoplankton and microscopic plants that have a crucial role in the marine food web. The new result suggests that these green icebergs are actually supplying nutrients to the ocean when they break off.

"It's like taking a package to the post office. The iceberg can deliver this iron out into the ocean far away, and then melt and deliver it to the phytoplankton that can use it as a nutrient. We always thought green icebergs were just an exotic curiosity, but now we think they may actually be important," said Stephen Warren, a glaciologist at the University of Washington and the lead author of the study, Science Daily reports.

During the research Warren and his team also found that green icebergs are much different when compared to normal icebergs.

"When we climbed up on that iceberg, the most amazing thing was actually not the color but rather the clarity. This ice had no bubbles. It was obvious that it was not ordinary glacier ice," added Warren.

A few days back, NASA had warned that a gigantic iceberg speculated to be twice the size of New York City will soon break off from an ice shelf. Researchers also added that the crack which is causing the breakoff has accelerated in the past few years, and it indicates that an iceberg roughly the size of 660 square miles will break off in a process which they scientifically called calving.

The study report has been published in the Journal of Geophysical Research: Oceans.