Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

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

11.09.2013
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.


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
(Photo: David Thomas)

It is a hostile place to grow with temperatures often at -10°C to -20°C, 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.

Contact:

Professor David Thomas
Arctic Research Centre
Department of Bioscience
Aarhus University
Tlf: +45 29653117
Email: david.thomas@biology.au.dk.
Publication: GJC Underwood, S Aslam, C Michel, A Niemi, L Norman, KM Meiners, J Laybourn-Parry, H Paterson & DN Thomas. 2013. Broad-scale predictability of carbohydrates and exopolymers in Antarctic and Arctic sea ice. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, DOI 10.1073/pnas.1302870110

David Thomas | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.au.dk

Further reports about: Academy Antarctic Predators Arctic Ocean Micro-gels ice floes ocean floor

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht High-Speed Locomotion Neurons Found in the Brainstem
24.10.2017 | Universität Basel

nachricht Antibiotic resistance: a strain of multidrug-resistant Escherichia coli is on the rise
24.10.2017 | Deutsches Zentrum für Infektionsforschung

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Salmonella as a tumour medication

HZI researchers developed a bacterial strain that can be used in cancer therapy

Salmonellae are dangerous pathogens that enter the body via contaminated food and can cause severe infections. But these bacteria are also known to target...

Im Focus: Neutron star merger directly observed for the first time

University of Maryland researchers contribute to historic detection of gravitational waves and light created by event

On August 17, 2017, at 12:41:04 UTC, scientists made the first direct observation of a merger between two neutron stars--the dense, collapsed cores that remain...

Im Focus: Breaking: the first light from two neutron stars merging

Seven new papers describe the first-ever detection of light from a gravitational wave source. The event, caused by two neutron stars colliding and merging together, was dubbed GW170817 because it sent ripples through space-time that reached Earth on 2017 August 17. Around the world, hundreds of excited astronomers mobilized quickly and were able to observe the event using numerous telescopes, providing a wealth of new data.

Previous detections of gravitational waves have all involved the merger of two black holes, a feat that won the 2017 Nobel Prize in Physics earlier this month....

Im Focus: Smart sensors for efficient processes

Material defects in end products can quickly result in failures in many areas of industry, and have a massive impact on the safe use of their products. This is why, in the field of quality assurance, intelligent, nondestructive sensor systems play a key role. They allow testing components and parts in a rapid and cost-efficient manner without destroying the actual product or changing its surface. Experts from the Fraunhofer IZFP in Saarbrücken will be presenting two exhibits at the Blechexpo in Stuttgart from 7–10 November 2017 that allow fast, reliable, and automated characterization of materials and detection of defects (Hall 5, Booth 5306).

When quality testing uses time-consuming destructive test methods, it can result in enormous costs due to damaging or destroying the products. And given that...

Im Focus: Cold molecules on collision course

Using a new cooling technique MPQ scientists succeed at observing collisions in a dense beam of cold and slow dipolar molecules.

How do chemical reactions proceed at extremely low temperatures? The answer requires the investigation of molecular samples that are cold, dense, and slow at...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

3rd Symposium on Driving Simulation

23.10.2017 | Event News

ASEAN Member States discuss the future role of renewable energy

17.10.2017 | Event News

World Health Summit 2017: International experts set the course for the future of Global Health

10.10.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Single nanoparticle mapping paves the way for better nanotechnology

24.10.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

A quantum spin liquid

24.10.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Antibiotic resistance: a strain of multidrug-resistant Escherichia coli is on the rise

24.10.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>