New Study – Microscopic Marine Plants Flourish Under Greenland Sea Ice

Source: Phys.org/Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences

Photo: Annie Spratt/Unsplash

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Microscopic marine plants flourish beneath the ice that covers the Greenland Sea, according to a new study in the Journal of Geophysical Research: Oceans. These phytoplankton create the energy that fuels ocean ecosystems, and the study found that half of this energy is produced under the sea ice in late winter and early spring, and the other half at the edge of the ice in spring.

The researchers pioneered new technology and methods to make this discovery. About 4,000 oceanographic instruments called Argo floats are currently bobbing around the global ocean, moving between the deep sea and surface as they take vital measurements such as  and salinity. This study used some of the first floats equipped to navigate icy waters and measure biogeochemical properties like nutrient concentrations and  biomass. The floats sampled in the difficult conditions around and below the Greenland Sea ice continuously for four years, giving the researchers an unprecedented and invaluable look at this previously impenetrable region.

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Photo: Annie Spratt/Unsplash

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