Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Micro-gels from tiny ice algae play an important role in polar ocean carbon budgets

Date:
September 10, 2013
Source:
Aarhus University
Summary:
Secretion of polysaccharides from the micro community living within the sea ice stick organism together and forms greater particles introducing a rapid transport of carbon to the seafloor. New research now makes it possible to forecast the importance for the global carbon budget of this transport.

The ice algae secrete gel-like substances in response to environmental stress. New research show that this micro-gel play an important role in polar ocean carbon budgets.
Credit: Image courtesy of Aarhus University

Secretion of polysaccharides from the micro community living within the sea ice stick organism together and forms greater particles introducing a rapid transport of carbon to the seafloor. New research now makes it possible to forecast the importance for the global carbon budget of this transport.

A community of microscopic algae and bacteria thrives within the Arctic and Antarctic pack ice. These ice-organisms are adapted to growing on the ice crystal surfaces and within a labyrinth of channels and pores that permeate the ice floes.

It is a hostile place to grow with temperatures often at -10C to -20C, low light and within six or seven times more salty brines in the ice channels compared to the underlying seawater from where these organisms originate.

Many marine organisms secrete gel-like substances in response to environmental stress, and these ice-dwellers are no exception. In fact they secrete large quantities of gels that are made up from various types of polysaccharides.

A new study released in Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, now demonstrate that these gels from ice-microorganisms are important in both the Arctic and Antarctic. It is likely that they will not only affect the physical structure within the ice but also how carbon travels to the ocean floor and even the weather.

Sticky masses

The gels promote the clumping together of cells when they are released from the ice when it melts. These sticky masses fall more rapidly to the sea floor, taking carbon (and food) out of the surfaces waters.

There is also evidence that micro-gels at the ocean surface may get caught up into the air and eventually act as cloud condensing nuclei thereby affecting weather. The gels therefore have profound implications for both the long-term burial of carbon to the ocean floor and thus the global carbon budget and on the weather.

Since 2006 Professor Graham Underwood & Dr Shazia Aslam from University of Essex and Professor David Thomas from Arctic Research Centre, Aarhus University have led several projects (funded by the Natural Environment Research Council, UK) to study the production of micro-gels, and their widespread importance to the frozen realms of the worlds oceans. They teamed up with colleagues from Australia and Canada to collect and analyse ice cores from both the Arctic and Antarctic.

Seven years on, and many frozen trips later, they now publish a rather surprising finding. Analysing ice data spanning ice from both the Arctic and Antarctic, they are now able to determine the amounts of gel production from the ice microbes based on data of the physical nature of the ice and the amount of microbiology.

"It means that we can estimate the concentration of gels in ice, by knowing rather routine measurements such as the thickness of the ice floes, temperature and salinity of the ice and the quantity of ice biology measured as the chlorophyll content of the ice," says Professor David Thomas, Arctic Research Centre, Aarhus University.

"This is a huge step forwards to enable us to estimate the significance of these materials to the millions of square kilometres of Antarctic and Arctic pack ice," says Thomas.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Aarhus University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. G. J. C. Underwood, S. N. Aslam, C. Michel, A. Niemi, L. Norman, K. M. Meiners, J. Laybourn-Parry, H. Paterson, D. N. Thomas. Broad-scale predictability of carbohydrates and exopolymers in Antarctic and Arctic sea ice. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2013; DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1302870110

Cite This Page:

Aarhus University. "Micro-gels from tiny ice algae play an important role in polar ocean carbon budgets." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 10 September 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/09/130910104958.htm>.
Aarhus University. (2013, September 10). Micro-gels from tiny ice algae play an important role in polar ocean carbon budgets. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 25, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/09/130910104958.htm
Aarhus University. "Micro-gels from tiny ice algae play an important role in polar ocean carbon budgets." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/09/130910104958.htm (accessed July 25, 2014).

Share This




More Earth & Climate News

Friday, July 25, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Goma Cheese Brings Whiff of New Hope to DRC

Goma Cheese Brings Whiff of New Hope to DRC

Reuters - Business Video Online (July 24, 2014) The eastern region of the Democratic Republic of Congo, mainly known for conflict and instability, is an unlikely place for the production of fine cheese. But a farm in the village of Masisi, in North Kivu is slowly transforming perceptions of the area. Known simply as Goma cheese, the Congolese version of Dutch gouda has gained popularity through out the region. Ciara Sutton reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Bill Gates: Health, Agriculture Key to Africa's Development

Bill Gates: Health, Agriculture Key to Africa's Development

AFP (July 24, 2014) Health and agriculture development are key if African countries are to overcome poverty and grow, US software billionaire Bill Gates said Thursday, as he received an honourary degree in Ethiopia. Duration: 00:36 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Higgins Breaks Record at Mt. Washington

Higgins Breaks Record at Mt. Washington

Driving Sports (July 24, 2014) Subaru Rally Team USA drivers David Higgins and Travis Pastrana face off against a global contingent of racers at the annual Mt. Washington Hillclimb in New Hampshire. Includes exclusive in-car footage from Higgins' record attempt. Video provided by Driving Sports
Powered by NewsLook.com
Storm Kills Three, Injures 20 at Virginia Campground

Storm Kills Three, Injures 20 at Virginia Campground

Reuters - US Online Video (July 24, 2014) A likely tornado tears through an eastern Virginia campground, killing three and injuring at least 20. Linda So reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

    Health News

      Environment News

        Technology News



          Save/Print:
          Share:

          Free Subscriptions


          Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

          Get Social & Mobile


          Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

          Have Feedback?


          Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
          Mobile: iPhone Android Web
          Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
          Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
          Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins