Massive phytoplankton bloom solves missing carbon mystery
There's good news for folks worried that atmospheric CO2 levels in the Arctic have passed 400ppm for the first time: a vast CO2-sucking phytoplankton bloom has been discovered beneath Arctic ice – and it may thank global warming for its presence.
"This wasn't just any phytoplankton bloom," Stanford University marine scientist Kevin Arrigo told The Christian Science Monitor. "It was literally the most intense phytoplankton bloom I've ever seen in my 25 years of doing this type of research."
Arrigo's research, conducted in the Chukchi Sea last year as part of NASA's ICESCAPE Arctic-research expedition, is discussed in the online issue of the journal Science in a report entitled "Life Blooms Under Arctic Ice".
The massive under-ice bloom discovered during ICESCAPE was thoroughly unexpected. The meager amount of phytoplankton in that area's open waters had led scientists to believe that under-ice phytoplankton would be even more rare. Not so. Due to the recent thinning of the Arctic ice sheets, enough light is now able to penetrate below the ice, enabling phytoplankton to thrive.