What causes ice algae to move to the bottom of the sea?

What causes ice algae to move to the bottom of the sea?

Toward the end of spring, when the ice begins to melt, the sea ice algae are released from the ice and fall into the seawater or sink to the sea floor, where they are eaten by other animals. This makes the algae (and the time they spend growing while trapped in ice) very important to the Arctic ecosystem.

What factors control the distribution and thickness of sea ice?

Four main factors affect the development of sea ice:

  • water temperature.
  • air temperature.
  • wave action.
  • ocean currents.

Does algae grow on sea ice?

Role in ecosystem Sea ice algae accumulate biomass rapidly, often at the base of sea ice, and grow to form algal mats that are consumed by amphipods such as krill and copepods.

What happens to algae when ice melts?

Snow lying on top of the sea ice absorbs much more of the incoming sunlight than the ice itself, but once the snow starts melting, more light is transmitted, and other unicellular algae (phytoplankton) start blooming in the water underneath the ice.

How does sea ice algae grow?

In polar regions, as increasing sunlight penetrates the sea ice, ice algae grow on its underside. Rising temperatures begin to melt the ice, releasing the algae that drifts through the ocean and to the seafloor.

What would happen to the ecosystem if there was an overabundance of ice algae?

The algae population will bloom and so will the zooplankton, creating depletions in the benthic community and more production in the pelagic zone. This may also decrease atmospheric carbon and slightly halt temperature increases. These are effects of a melting arctic.

What limits the thickness of seasonal sea ice?

Ice will become thicker over time if it grows faster than it melts. However, there is a limit to how thick the ice can become. Ice grows when heat from the relatively warm ocean is transferred to the cold air above. Ice also insulates the ocean from the atmosphere and inhibits this heat transfer.

When sea ice forms what happens to the density of the ice?

This process is known as thermohaline circulation. In the Earth’s polar regions ocean water gets very cold, forming sea ice. As a consequence the surrounding seawater gets saltier, because when sea ice forms, the salt is left behind. As the seawater gets saltier, its density increases, and it starts to sink.

What is the example of algae growing on ice?

Chlamydomonas nivalis. Chlamydomonas nivalis is a green microalga which causes, besides other closely relative species, Watermelon snow. Watermelon snow is snow that is reddish or pink in color, and that can have a smell similar to a fresh watermelon.

How does algae survive in the Arctic?

Details. Single-celled algae that rely on sunlight to survive form the basis of the food chain throughout the world’s oceans. In the Arctic, these algae can live in sea ice (ice algae) and in the water column (phytoplankton).

Why is sea ice algae important?

Ice algae constitute the main food source for ice-associated and pelagic herbivorous protists (Michel et al., 2002) and metazoans (Nozais et al., 2001), and contribute significantly to carbon cycling throughout the Arctic regions (Michel et al., 2006).

How does global warming affect ice algae?

The current major theory is that the loss of ice coverage due to warming will decrease the total area available for ice algae to grow, but the thinning of ice and snow may increase the intensity of under-ice Photosynthetic Available Radiance (PAR), a critical limiting factor for the growth of ice algae in later spring …