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Algae Drive Enhanced Darkening of Bare Ice on the Greenland Ice Sheet

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages9
JournalGeophysical Research Letters
Early online date6 Nov 2017
DOIs
DateAccepted/In press - 1 Nov 2017
DateE-pub ahead of print (current) - 6 Nov 2017

Abstract

Surface ablation of the Greenland ice sheet is amplified by surface darkening caused by light-absorbing impurities such as mineral dust, black carbon, and pigmented microbial cells. We present the first quantitative assessment of the microbial contribution to the ice sheet surface darkening, based on field measurements of surface reflectance and concentrations of light-absorbing impurities, including pigmented algae, during the 2014 melt season in the southwestern part of the ice sheet. The impact of algae on bare ice darkening in the study area was greater than that of nonalgal impurities and yielded a net albedo reduction of 0.038 ± 0.0035 for each algal population doubling. We argue that algal growth is a crucial control of bare ice darkening, and incorporating the algal darkening effect will improve mass balance and sea level projections of the Greenland ice sheet and ice masses elsewhere.

    Research areas

  • Albedo, Algae, Greenland ice sheet, Light-absorbing impurities, Meltings

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    Rights statement: This is the final published version of the article (version of record). It first appeared online via Wiley at http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/2017GL075958/abstract . Please refer to any applicable terms of use of the publisher.

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