Sea ice from the Arctic drifts into the Atlantic in summer. The meltwater forms a stable layer atop the seawater. This creates significant effects on biological processes of marine organisms. This layer also has an effect on that carbon that is restored in the ocean from the atmosphere. Alfred Wegener Institute researchers have done their research with the help of FRAM ocean observation system. This research paper has been published in the journal Nature Communications.
As we know that oceans are the largest carbon sinks in our planet. So, below the water surface, microorganisms like algae and phytoplankton suck that carbon through photosynthesis. After the microorganisms have sunk in the ocean floor, the carbon they contain inside them remains intact after several thousand years. The new research has found out that meltwater delays this process by four months.
The FRAM Ocean observation system have gathered data from Fram Strait during the summer of 2016 to the summer of 2018. Scientists have installed dense clusters of moorings to keep in check all the possible aspects of the coupled physical-biological processes in the water. Devices that will capture the data of biogeochemical and acoustic sensors in the water have been installed too. With these devices water and sediment samples have also been collected for laboratory analysis.
The scientists said, they were not only able to comprehensively monitor the seasonal developments of microalgae and phytoplankton but they have also noted down the complete physical, chemical and biological system of the developments.
In the summer season of 2017, a large amount of ice has arrived in the Fram Strait from the Arctic. This has caused a low-saline meltwater and resulted in a stratification of water. But in the summer of 2018, low amount of ice arrived in the Fram Strait. So, there were less meltwater and no stratification of water happened.