When the air is very cold, water at the surface of the ocean freezes, forming sea ice. Parts of the Arctic Ocean are covered by sea ice during the entire year. Often, snow falls onto the sea ice. Despite the cold, many plants and animals can live in the Arctic Ocean, some in the water, and some even in the sea ice. Particularly, algae can live in small bubbles in the sea ice. Like other plants, algae need energy to grow. This energy comes from food and sunlight. But how can the sunlight reach these little algae living inside the sea ice? From the sun, the light must pass through the atmosphere, the snow, and finally the sea ice itself. In this article, we describe how ice algae can live in this special environment and we explain what influences how much light reaches the algae to make them grow.
Authors: Castellani, Giulia, Veyssiere, Gaelle, Kauker, F., Karcher, M., Stroeve, J., Wilkinson, J.P., Flores, H., Nicolaus, M.