Ice algal bloom development on the surface of the Greenland Ice Sheet

C J Williamson, A M Anesio, J Cook, A Tedstone, E Poniecka, A Holland, D Fagan, M Tranter, M L Yallop

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

24 Citations (Scopus)
277 Downloads (Pure)


It is fundamental to understand the development of Zygnematophycean (Streptophyte) micro-algal blooms within Greenland Ice Sheet (GrIS) supraglacial environments, given their potential to significantly impact both physical (melt) and chemical (carbon and nutrient cycling) surface characteristics. Here we report on a space-for-time assessment of a GrIS ice-algal bloom, achieved by sampling an ∼ 85 km transect spanning the south-western GrIS bare ice zone during the 2016 ablation season. Cell abundances ranged from 0 to 1.6 × 104 cells ml−1, with algal biomass demonstrated to increase in surface ice with time since snow line retreat (R2 = 0.73, P < 0.05). A suite of light harvesting and photo-protective pigments were quantified across transects (chlorophylls, carotenoids and phenols) and shown to increase in concert with algal biomass. Ice-algal communities drove net autotrophy of surface ice, with maximal rates of net production averaging 0.52 ± 0.04 mg C l−1 d−1, and a total accumulation of 1.306 Gg C (15.82 ± 8.14 kg C km−2) predicted for the 2016 ablation season across an 8.24 × 104 km2 region of the GrIS. By advancing our understanding of ice-algal bloom development, this study marks an important step toward projecting bloom occurrence and impacts into the future.
Original languageEnglish
Article numberfiy025
Number of pages10
JournalFEMS Microbiology Ecology
Issue number3
Early online date10 Feb 2018
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2018


  • cyanobacteria
  • cryosphere
  • polar
  • alpine
  • genomics

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Ice algal bloom development on the surface of the Greenland Ice Sheet'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this