As the Earth warms and glaciers all over the world begin to melt, the natural concern has been how all of that extra water will contribute to sea level rise.
Less considered is what happens to all of the organic carbon found in those glaciers when they melt. A new paper estimates what could happen if major ice sheets break down.
Glaciers and ice sheets contain about 70 percent of the Earth's freshwater and ongoing melting is a major contributor to sea level rise. But, glaciers also store organic carbon derived from both primary production on the glaciers and deposition of materials such as soot or other fossil fuel combustion byproducts.