Sea ice algae in the White and Barents seas: composition and origin

  • Tatjana N. Ratkova
  • Paul Wassmann


To examine algae populations, three expeditions (in March 2001, April 2002 and February 2003) were conducted in the Guba Chupa (Chupa Estuary; north-western White Sea), and one cruise was carried out in the open part of the White Sea in April 2003 and in the northern part of the Barents Sea in July 2001. Sea ice algae and phytoplankton composition and abundance and the content of sediment traps under the land-fast ice in the White Sea and annual and multi-year pack ice in the Barents Sea were investigated. The community in land-fast sea ice was dominated by pennate diatoms and its composition was more closely related to that of the underlying sediments than was the community of the pack ice, which was dominated by flagellates, dinoflagellates and centric diatoms. Algae were far more abundant in land-fast ice: motile benthic and ice-benthic species found favourable conditions in the ice. The pack ice community was more closely related to that of the surrounding water. It originated from plankton incorporation during sea ice formation and during seawater flood events. An additional source for ice colonization may be multi-year ice. Algae may be released from the ice during brine drainage or sea ice melting. Many sea ice algae developed spores before the ice melt. These algae were observed in the above-bottom sediment traps all year around. Three possible fates of ice algae can be distinguished: 1) suspension in the water column, 2) sinking to the bottom and 3) ingestion by herbivores in the ice, at the ice-water interface or in the water column.


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How to Cite
Ratkova, T., & Wassmann, P. (2005). Sea ice algae in the White and Barents seas: composition and origin. Polar Research, 95-110.
Research/review articles