Roundup: Kelp, Firn, and Plankton Studied in Svalbard

Each week, we highlight three stories from the forefront of glacier news.

Warming of Artic  Changes Kelp Forests’ Density and Depth

From Polar Biology:

Kelp Seaweed. Courtesy of Flickr User snickclunk.
Kelp Seaweed. Courtesy of Flickr User snickclunk.

“Arctic West Spitsbergen in Svalbard is currently experiencing gradual warming due to climate change showing decreased landfast sea-ice and increased sedimentation. In order to document possible changes in 2012–2014, we partially repeated a quantitative diving study from 1996 to 1998 in the kelp forest at Hansneset, Kongsfjorden, along a depth gradient between 0 and 15 m. The seaweed biomass increased between 1996/1998 and 2012/2013 with peak in kelp biomass shifted to shallower depth, from 5 to 2.5 m.”

Read more about this study here.

 

Firn, Newly-Settled Snow on Glaciers, Stores Water

Firn, courtesy of Flickr User Alpen Picasso.
Firn, courtesy of Flickr User Alpen Picasso.

From  Geophysical Research Letters:

“Ice-penetrating radar and GPS observations reveal a perennial firn aquifer (PFA) on a Svalbard ice field, similar to those recently discovered in southeastern Greenland. A bright, widespread radar reflector separates relatively dry and water-saturated firn…Our observations indicate that PFAs respond rapidly (subannually) to surface forcing, and are capable of providing significant input to the englacial hydrology system.”

Read more about this study on firn hydrology here.

 

Krill and Crustaceans Play Bigger Role in Warming Ecosystem

From Polar Biology:

Polar Cod, which relies on plankton, being dried in Norway. Courtesy of Flickr User Victor Velez.
Polar Cod, which relies on plankton, being dried in Norway. Courtesy of Flickr User Victor Velez.

“Euphausiid (krill) and amphipod dynamics were studied during 2006–2011 by use of plankton nets in Kongsfjorden (79°N) and adjacent waters, also including limited sampling in Isfjorden (78°N) and Rijpfjorden (80°N). The objectives of the study were to assess how variations in physical characteristics across fjord systems affect the distribution and abundance of euphausiids and amphipods and the potential for these macrozooplankton species to reproduce in these waters…Euphausiids and amphipods are major food of capelin (Mallotus villosus) and polar cod (Boreogadus saida), respectively, in this region, and changes in prey abundance will likely have an impact on the feeding dynamics of these important fish species”

Learn more about these ecosystems here.

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