Aarhus Universitets segl

No. 489: Monitoring glacial algae and impurities on the Greenland ice sheet

Anesio, A. M., Cook, J. M., Chevrollier, L. A., Feng, S., Fausto, R.s., Box, J. E. & Tranter, M. 2022. Monitoring glacial algae and impurities on the Greenland ice sheet. Aarhus University, DCE – Danish Centre for Environment and Energy, 26 pp. Scientific Report No. 489. http://dce2.au.dk/pub/SR489.pdf


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. 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 ice sheet (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.