Climate change linked to unexpected 'blooms' under Arctic ice, research says

Jun 12, 2012 By Lanna Crucefix

(Phys.org) -- Phytoplankton blooms unexpectedly occurring under Arctic sea ice are an indication of how climate change is affecting the Arctic ecosystem, says a study published in the June 8 issue of Science.

Phytoplankton, a that anchors the , generally blooms in the ’s open waters after the winter ice has melted back, says Kent Moore, a professor in the department of chemical and physical sciences at the University of Toronto Mississauga and a co-author on the study. “However, we’ve found evidence that the blooms are now occurring under the Arctic ice itself, and earlier than expected.”

Samples taken from the NASA-funded 2011 ICESCAPE (Impacts of Climate on EcoSystems and Chemistry of the Arctic Pacific Environment) cruise in the Chukchi Sea, northwest of Alaska, measured particulate organic carbon, an indicator of biological activity. Unusually, the team found an increase in this indicator as they moved from open water into fully consolidated ice.

Moore attributes the shifts in the blooms to changes in the availability of the sunlight and nutrients phytoplankton needs to grow.

Due to recent changes in Arctic sea ice, water beneath the ice is now much brighter, he says. “Compared to 30 years ago, there’s now 30 per cent less in the summer. As well, thicker ice that forms over many years is being replaced by thinner single-year ice.”

During the summer, melt ponds typically develop on the sea ice before it melts. As these ponds are darker than the bright , they absorb sunlight, rather than reflect it back to space. The thinness of the ice now allows some of this sunlight to be transmitted down to the water below.

Compounding the effect of increased light, changes in wind patterns -- also the result of atmospheric warming in the region -- have caused more nutrient-rich water to rise from the bottom of the ocean towards the surface.

The combination of thinning ice and favourable winds means that phytoplankton blooms are now occurring three weeks or a month earlier than before. However, Moore points out, the entire food chain in the region is based on these blooms happening in mid-July, not in June.

“Now, part of the bloom may be occurring in conditions where organisms higher in the food chain can’t access it. The stress travels right to the top, potentially affecting marine mammals and seabirds.”

Moore believes these blooms to be indications of . “It’s a second-order effect of global warming. When the climate warms, there can be unexpected shifts that can negatively impact the entire ecosystem.”

The new bloom activity also means researchers will need to reassess the amount of biological activity occurring in the Arctic. Previous estimates assumed that only occurred in the open water.

“A lot of the Arctic Ocean is in a very similar situation, so it is quite likely that these under-ice are occurring in other regions as well,” says Moore. “We may be underestimating the amount of phytoplankton production by 10-fold.”

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User comments : 11

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deatopmg
1.9 / 5 (13) Jun 12, 2012
Something is noticed ("discovered") in the arctic by an observant person and of course it is immediately linked, w/ zero evidence, to global warming by GW zealots. Sounds like another scheme to get more grant money out of the public coffers.

This is NOT science, it is wild-ass conjecture for personal gain.

To get algal blooms one does not need warmer temperatures. That has always been available at the lower latitudes where these blooms were never noticed. One does need increased nutrients however.
MadLintElf
2.2 / 5 (10) Jun 12, 2012
I'm starting to hate this site, it's not even a hidden agenda, this is right in your face BS.

Not science, not at all.

Who owns newscientist.com, why are you wasting our time with all of these uninformed articles.
rubberman
4.3 / 5 (10) Jun 12, 2012
After reading the article I understood completely how the connection to climate change was made, how the bloom is out of the ordinary and the science of why it happened. They (the scientists) don't say what they believe is causing climate change, this is not an AGW article, although from the knee jerk reactions of the 2 posts above you would think they did and it was. As a matter of fact, the first post echoes what the article states as one of the causal factors in his final paragraph. How can you say "zero evidence", then name what a cause of an algael bloom is when it is named in the article as one of the contributing factors?

And where do they mention New Scientist?
NotParker
2.5 / 5 (8) Jun 12, 2012
I love AGW. Here is an article from Scientific American wailing that phytoplankton are in serious decline, even while the article on Physorg says there is too many.

"They believe that rising sea temperatures are driving the decline"

http://www.scient...pulation

I think the lesson is clear ... scientists are ignorant.

And this paper says phytoplankton actually heat the ocean and change ocean circulations.

http://citeseerx....type=pdf

Maybe the melting of the ice is caused by the phytoplankton, not the other way around.
Howhot
3.9 / 5 (7) Jun 13, 2012
You know, a photon here.. photon there ... and then boom; phytoplankton everywhere.

Moore believes these blooms to be indications of climate change. Its a second-order effect of global warming...


It makes better sense than Mr. Noparks rants. (He hates parks btw).

Maybe the melting of the ice is caused by the phytoplankton, not the other way around


Maybe its a feed back mechanism and now the ice will melt faster!
NotParker
2.1 / 5 (7) Jun 13, 2012
"By increasing the attenuation of light in the water column, phytoplankton can cause near-surface waters to become heated more rapidly
than if the water were devoid of phytoplankton. Ramp et al. (1991) observed large differences in temperature (up to 4.7 C) between measurements at depths of 4 cm and 2 m near Point Arena, California."

Fascinating. A lot more fascinating that climate "scientists" who try and blame too much phytoplankton and not enough phytoplankton on the same con game.
Vendicar_Decarian
3 / 5 (6) Jun 13, 2012
The article provides two bits of evidence linking these unusual blooms with global warming.

1. A reduction in the thickness of sea ice (due to the rapid melting of the polar ice pack) and subsequent increase in light availability below the ice.

2. Increases in nutrient rich water caused by winds that are also caused by the warming of the region.

Tard Boy then ignores the links and evidence provided, and claims there is none.

"Something is noticed ("discovered") in the arctic by an observant person and of course it is immediately linked, w/ zero evidence" - DeaTard

DeaTard provides wonderful evidence of how willful ignorance keeps itself willfully ignorant.
Vendicar_Decarian
3 / 5 (6) Jun 13, 2012
I don't see anyone doing that.

And note that yes, by increasing the opacity of the water, algae will promote higher surface temperatures and hence more melting of the polar ice cap.

ParkerTard identifies yet another positive feedback but isn't honest enough or smart enough to comment on it.

"A lot more fascinating that climate "scientists" who try and blame too much phytoplankton and not enough phytoplankton on the same con game." - ParkerTard

He just lies, and them moves on.
Vendicar_Decarian
3 / 5 (6) Jun 13, 2012
Conservatives have been seen complaining about too many people in Africa and India and not enough in America.

ParkerTard doesn't find that worth commenting on but does dishonestly conflate the overall reduction observed in ocean plankton with a localized plankton bloom.

"American wailing that phytoplankton are in serious decline, even while the article on Physorg says there is too many." - ParkerTard

He is regularly seen using the same dishonest tactics when he conflates local temperature trends with global ones, to deceptively imply that the local trend is actually the global one.

ParkerTard is mentally diseased, and needs to seek mental help.
Vendicar_Decarian
3 / 5 (6) Jun 13, 2012
Conservatives hate reality and are fundamentally anti-science.

"I'm starting to hate this site, it's not even a hidden agenda, this is right in your face BS." - MadLinTard

The anti-science movement is growing in America.

American Conservatives have now been programmed for decades to believe that their political liedeology is a replacement for reality.

The seeds of the American Dark Era were planted during the Borrow and spend, Reagan Administration.

ubavontuba
2.3 / 5 (6) Jun 13, 2012
I love AGW. Here is an article from Scientific American wailing that phytoplankton are in serious decline, even while the article on Physorg says there is too many.

"They believe that rising sea temperatures are driving the decline"

http://www.scient...pulation

Maybe the melting of the ice is caused by the phytoplankton, not the other way around.
LOL! That's hilarious! In deference to the article we're commenting in, my favorite line from the article is: "Biggest declines at the poles" So, AGW causes phytoplankton declines while simultaneously promoting phytoplankton growth? How does that work?

I love AGW "science!" If it gets hot, we can blame AGW! If it gets cold, we can blame AGW! If things grow more, we can blame AGW! If the same things decline, we can blame AGW! It's a can't lose science/scheme!