Sea ice is a complex and heterogeneous medium that hosts a rich community of microbial organisms and small invertebrates. This ecosystem is shaped by a network of inhabitable spaces where the upward and downward fluxes of solutes and light support primary production, and ultimately the whole sea-ice trophic network. Describing the optical, physical, biological and biogeochemical processes that drive the functioning of the sea-ice ecosystem at the appropriate, i.e. small scale (micro- to centimeter), is very challenging. This medium is solid, fragile and highly heterogeneous. Traditional sea-ice sampling methods based on coring are most often coarse and destructive. Not only do they not allow the small scale to be explored, they generally alter the material to be analyzed. Here, we present a new approach for measuring relevant variables of the sea-ice ecosystem at small scale and, as much as possible, non-destructively. Inspired by medical endoscopes, the custom-built platform is intended to carry various types of miniaturized optical sensors for radiometry, chemistry and high-resolution imaging of the sea-ice interior. In this presentation, we will describe the concept and present the progress made to date.
EPIC Alfred Wegener Institut