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Leads in Arctic pack ice enable early phytoplankton blooms below snow-covered sea ice


Assmy, P and Fernandez-Mendez, M and Duarte, P and Meyer, A and Randelhoff, A and Mundy, CJ and Olsen, LM and Kauko, HM and Bailey, A and Chierici, M and Cohen, L and Doulgeris, AP and Ehn, JK and Fransson, A and Gerland, S and Hop, H and Hudson, SR and Hughes, N and Itkin, P and Johnsen, G and King, JA and Koch, BP and Koenig, Z and Kwasniewski, S and Laney, SR and Nicolaus, M and Pavlov, AK and Polashenski, CM and Provost, C and Rosel, A and Sandbu, M and Spreen, G and Smedsrud, LH and Sundfjord, A and Taskjelle, T and Tatarek, A and Wiktor, J and Wagner, PM and Wold, A and Steen, H and Granskog, MA, Leads in Arctic pack ice enable early phytoplankton blooms below snow-covered sea ice, Scientific Reports, 7 Article 40850. ISSN 2045-2322 (2017) [Refereed Article]


Copyright Statement

Copyright 2017 The Authors. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)

DOI: doi:10.1038/srep40850


The Arctic icescape is rapidly transforming from a thicker multiyear ice cover to a thinner and largely seasonal first-year ice cover with significant consequences for Arctic primary production. One critical challenge is to understand how productivity will change within the next decades. Recent studies have reported extensive phytoplankton blooms beneath ponded sea ice during summer, indicating that satellite-based Arctic annual primary production estimates may be significantly underestimated. Here we present a unique time-series of a phytoplankton spring bloom observed beneath snow-covered Arctic pack ice. The bloom, dominated by the haptophyte algae Phaeocystis pouchetii, caused near depletion of the surface nitrate inventory and a decline in dissolved inorganic carbon by 16  6 g C m−2. Ocean circulation characteristics in the area indicated that the bloom developed in situ despite the snow-covered sea ice. Leads in the dynamic ice cover provided added sunlight necessary to initiate and sustain the bloom. Phytoplankton blooms beneath snow-covered ice might become more common and widespread in the future Arctic Ocean with frequent lead formation due to thinner and more dynamic sea ice despite projected increases in high-Arctic snowfall. This could alter productivity, marine food webs and carbon sequestration in the Arctic Ocean.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:Arctic bloom, phytoplankton, ice, snow, primary production, ocean circulation, climate change
Research Division:Biological Sciences
Research Group:Ecology
Research Field:Marine and estuarine ecology (incl. marine ichthyology)
Objective Division:Environmental Management
Objective Group:Marine systems and management
Objective Field:Oceanic processes (excl. in the Antarctic and Southern Ocean)
UTAS Author:Meyer, A (Dr Amelie Meyer)
ID Code:125320
Year Published:2017
Web of Science® Times Cited:171
Deposited By:Oceans and Cryosphere
Deposited On:2018-04-12
Last Modified:2018-05-09
Downloads:68 View Download Statistics

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