During the Polarstern summer expedition TransArc 2011 to the Central Arctic, the biological and physical importance of melt ponds was assessed in terms of primary productivity and light transmittance. A seasonal succession could be observed: thick algal aggregates with high Net Primary Productivity (NPP) rates were found during late summer in open ponds, while low NPP were found in early autumn in refrozen closed ponds. These different NPP rates are not correlated with nutrient concentrations. Thus, light seems to be the relevant factor for NPP. Indeed according to Lee et.al. 2011 light intensity at the pond surface favours, rather than inhibits carbon uptake rates. Besides their potential for carbon sequestration, melt ponds will also impact the entire Arctic ecosystem as they allow more incoming light to reach the water column and therefore NPP rates in the water under the ice might increase.
AWI Organizations > Climate Sciences > Sea Ice Physics
AWI Organizations > Joint Research Groups > Deep sea ecology and technology