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Lecture: Dante’s 9th circle of hell is ice

Apr 15, 2019 at 3:00 pm 4:00 pm

Something to keep in mind when studying light and algae in polar ocean ecosystems 

Samuel Laney, PhD
Associate Scientist, Biology Dept, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution

Numerous unusual aspects of marine photosynthetic ecology are found in polar oceans, one of which is the spatial juxtaposition of two distinctly different algal ecosystems: those living in sea ice, and those living in the water column below. These two systems have historically been treated separately, studied by two largely distinct research communities, yet they compete for the same resources and exchange biomass seasonally, likely with important ecological ramifications. The key to developing a synoptic understanding of photosynthesis and production in polar oceans is to understand the seasonal distribution of light and algal biomass within and below sea ice, but longstanding measurement and observational realities continue to hinder our progress with even basic questions in polar photosynthetic ecology. Here I present several lines of research that my lab is pursuing to eliminate some of these longstanding observational challenges, and illustrate some technological advances that have enabled our ecological understanding of algal photosynthesis in high-latitude oceans.