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Monitoring glacial algae and impurities on the Greenland ice sheet

The area of dark bare ice along the margins of the Greenland ice sheet has increased in the past 20 years, facilitating an increase in melting in the summer months.

In this study, we report the first steps of PROMBIO (Programme for Monitoring Biological Impurities on the Greenland ice sheet) that links biological monitoring with the PROMICE (Program for Monitoring of the Greenland Ice Sheet) stations, providing a link between weather and albedo data with algal numbers. (Photo: Alexandre Magno Barbosa Anesio).

It is now well recognized that growth of strongly pigmented algae,along with an expanding snow-free duration, is a leading factor in the darkening of the bare ice area.

This project initiated a pilot study for sampling biological growth, alongside the Programme for monitoring the Greenland icesheet (PROMICE) to better understand the interplay between climatic factors and physical, chemical and biological processes that contribute to surface melting of the ice sheet.

The results in the project show that direct sampling of ice surfaces during PROMICE missions provide important information to characterize the surface darkening where local weather data are available.

In addition to the direct sampling approach, the report also considers recommendations necessary for monitoring biological and abiotic impurities on the Greenland ice through additional instrumentation at fixed stations that can better distinguish biological from abiotic signatures. 

Read full report here

For more information, please contact DCE – Nationalt Center for Environment and Energy by prof. Alexandre Magno Barbosa Anesio, ama@envs.au.dk or +45 22568980.