Carbon Uptake Rates of Sea Ice Algae and Phytoplankton under Different Light Intensities in a Landfast Sea Ice Zone, Barrow, Alaska


  • Sang H. Lee
  • Terry E. Whitledge
  • Sung-Ho Kang



ice algae, phytoplankton, carbon production, lipid synthesis, macromolecules, landfast sea ice, Barrow


To determine whether nitrogen or light exerts the most control for the rates of carbon production of ice algae and phytoplankton under the ice, nitrogen addition (NO3 or NH4) and light increment experiments were executed on the landfast sea ice of Barrow, Alaska, during the 2003 growing season by using a 13C-15N dual isotope tracer technique. The productivity of the bottom sea ice algae and phytoplankton at Barrow in 2003 was limited mainly by low light levels (approximately 0.3% of the surface irradiance) at the bottom under the snow-covered sea ice. The carbon and nitrate uptake rates of ice algae and phytoplankton increased as the incubation depth in the ice hole decreased and light intensity increased. In addition, under higher light conditions, the relative production of proteins of the bottom ice algae decreased, whereas the lipid proportion increased. The higher level of lipid synthesis of the ice algae might be significant to the nutrition of zooplankton and benthos because lipids are the most energy-dense biomolecules.