Carbon balance under a changing light environment

Katharina.Zacher [ at ]


The natural environment of Antarctic seaweeds is characterized by changing seasonal light conditions. The ability to adapt to this light regime is one of the most important prerequisites for their ecological success. Thus, the persistence of seaweeds depends on their capacity to maintain a positive carbon balance (CB)for buildup of biomass over the course of the year. A positive CB in Antarctica occurs only during the ice-free period in spring and summer, when photosynthetically active radiation (PAR, 400–700 nm) penetrates deeply into the water column. The accumulated carbon compounds during this period are stored and remobilized to support metabolism for the rest of the year. Over the last decades climate warming has induced a severe glacial retreat in Antarctica and has opened newly ice-free areas. Increased sediment runoff, and reduced light penetration due to melting during the warmer months, may lead to a negative CB with changes in the vertical distribution of seaweeds. Furthermore, warmer winters and springs result in earlier sea-ice melt, causing an abrupt increase in light, compensating the reduction in PAR in summer or increasing the annual light budget. Studies performed in Potter Cove, Isla 25 de Mayo/King George Island, reveal that algae growing in newly ice-free areas did not acclimate to the changing light conditions. Lower or even negative CB values in areas close to the glacier runoff seem to be primarily dependent on the incoming PAR that finally determines the lower distribution limit of seaweeds. The present chapter discusses how carbon balance respond to the changing Antarctic light environment and its potential implications for the fate of benthic algal communities.

Item Type
Primary Division
Primary Topic
Peer revision
Publication Status
Eprint ID
DOI 10.1007/978-3-030-39448-6_9

Cite as
Deregibus, D. , Zacher, K. , Bartsch, I. , Campana, G. L. , Momo, F. R. , Wiencke, C. , Gómez, I. and Quartino, M. L. (2020): Carbon balance under a changing light environment / I. Gómez and P. Huovinen (editors) , In: Antarctic Seaweeds, Antarctic Seaweeds. Diversity, Adaptation and Ecosystem Services, Cham, Springer Nature Switzerland AG, 397 p., ISBN: 978-3-030-39447-9 . doi: 10.1007/978-3-030-39448-6_9



Research Platforms


Funded by
IMCONet FP7 IRSES, Action No. 319718, Coastcarb Funding ID 872690, H2020-MSCA-RISE-2019

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