Spring blooms of sea ice algae in the Western Antarctic Peninsula: Effects of warming and freshening on cell physiology and biogeochemical cycles 

Jodi Young (PI) and Jody Deming (UW, Co-PI) have been funded by the National Science Foundation to undertake research in the Western Antarctic Peninsula to understand how sea ice algae respond to the spring melt of sea ice.

Sea ice algae are capable of high levels of primary production despite inhabiting one of the more extreme and variable environments on Earth. Current estimates attribute 10–25 % of polar primary production to sea ice algae (Arrigo and Thomas, 2004) . Understanding the physiological adaptations that enable sea ice algae to thrive in their extreme environment will not only provide a fundamental understanding of the widespread success of photosynthetic life on Earth, but will help us to predict how this important source of primary production in polar ecosystems may change as the extent and thickness of sea ice changes.

During the spring months we will visit Palmer Station on the Western Antarctic Peninsula to study sea ice algae and the phytoplankton communities. We will be measuring primary production, metabolomics, community structure and production of organic compounds over the season. In addition, we will grow natural communities under varying temperatures and salinities using incubation tanks at the station.

Associated lab members:

Jodi Young

Hannah Dawson

Susan Rundell