© The Author(s), 2017. This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License. The definitive version was published in Scientific Reports 7 (2017): 40850, 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.
This study was supported by the Centre for Ice, Climate and Ecosystems (ICE) at the Norwegian Polar Institute, the Ministry of Climate and Environment, Norway, the Research Council of Norway (projects Boom or Bust no. 244646, STASIS no. 221961, CORESAT no. 222681, CIRFA no. 237906 and AMOS CeO no. 223254), and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Norway (project ID Arctic), the ICE-ARC program of the European Union 7th Framework Program (grant number 603887), the Polish-Norwegian Research Program operated by the National Centre for Research and Development under the Norwegian Financial Mechanism 2009–2014 in the frame of Project Contract Pol-Nor/197511/40/2013, CDOM-HEAT, and the Ocean Acidification Flagship program within the FRAM- High North Research Centre for Climate and the Environment, Norway.
Woods Hole Open Access Server