Diatom vertical migration within land-fast Arctic sea-ice.

Aumack, C. F.; Juhl, Andrew R.; Krembs, C.

Light levels inside first-year, landfast sea ice were experimentally altered by manipulating overlying snow depths. Irradiance available for ice algae growing near the ice-bottom, and under the ice, was highly dependent on snow depths ranging from 0 to >30 cm. Importantly, algal vertical distributions also changed under different irradiances. Under thick snow (low light), the majority of algae were found several cm above the ice–seawater interface, while progressively more were found nearer the interface at locations with thinner overlying snow (higher light). Short-term field experiments suggested that ice algae were able to reposition themselves within the ice column within 3 days after manipulating snow depths. Laboratory gliding rate measurements of a cultured ice diatom suggested that it is capable of daily cm-scale movement. Vertical migration may help ice diatoms balance opposing light and nutrient resource gradients, similar to strategies used by some benthic and pelagic algae. Moreover, when ice algae congregate near the ice–seawater interface, they may be especially susceptible to loss from the ice environment. Vertical repositioning in response to changing light dynamics may be a mechanism to optimize between vertically-opposing environmental factors and help explain the connection between melting snow cover and export of biomass from sea ice.

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Also Published In

Journal of Marine Systems

More About This Work

Academic Units
Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory
Biology and Paleo Environment
Published Here
November 6, 2023