Assessing algal biomass and bio-optical distributions in perennially ice-covered polar ocean ecosystems Academic Article uri icon


  • Under-ice observations of algal biomass and seasonality are critical for understanding better how climate-driven changes affect polar ocean ecosystems. However, seasonal and interannual variability in algal biomass has been studied sparsely in perennially ice-covered polar ocean regions. To address this gap in polar ocean observing, bio-optical sensors for measuring chlorophyll fluorescence, optical scattering, dissolved organic matter fluorescence, and incident solar radiation were integrated into Ice-Tethered Profilers (ITPs). Eight such systems have been deployed in the Arctic Ocean, with five profilers completing their deployments to date including two that observed an entire annual cycle in the central Arctic Ocean and Beaufort Sea respectively. These time series revealed basic seasonal differences in the vertical distributions of algal biomass and related bio-optical properties in these two regions of the Arctic Ocean. Because they conduct profiles on daily or sub-daily scales, TTP bio-optical data allow more accurate assessments of the timing of changes in under-ice algal biomass such as the onset of the growing season in the water column, the subsequent export of particulate organic matter at the end, and the frequency of intermittent perturbations, which in the central Arctic Ocean were observed to have time scales of between one and two weeks. (C) 2014 Elsevier B.V. and NIPR. All rights reserved.

publication date

  • June 2014