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Biogeosciences An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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https://doi.org/10.5194/bg-2019-69
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
https://doi.org/10.5194/bg-2019-69
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Research article 04 Apr 2019

Research article | 04 Apr 2019

Review status
This discussion paper is a preprint. It is a manuscript under review for the journal Biogeosciences (BG).

Nutrient cycling in supraglacial environments of the Dark Zone of the Greenland Ice Sheet

Alexandra T. Holland1, Christopher J. Williamson1,2, Fotis Sgouridis4, Andrew J. Tedstone1, Jenine McCutcheon5, Joseph M. Cook6, Ewa Poniecka7, Marian L. Yallop2, Martyn Tranter1, Alexandre M. Anesio1,3, and The Black & Bloom Group* Alexandra T. Holland et al.
  • 1Bristol Glaciology Centre, School of Geographical Sciences, University of Bristol, Bristol, BS8 1HB, UK
  • 2School of Biological Sciences, University of Bristol, 24 Tyndall Avenue, Bristol, BS8 1TQ, UK
  • 3Department of Environmental Science, Aarhus University, Roskilde, 4000, Denmark
  • 4School of Geographical Sciences, University of Bristol, Bristol, BS8 1RL, UK
  • 5School of Earth and Environment, University of Leeds, Leeds, LS2 9JT, UK
  • 6Department of Geography, University of Sheffield, Winter Street, Sheffield, S3 7ND, UK
  • 7School of Earth and Ocean Sciences, Cardiff University, Main Building, Park Place, Cardiff, CF10 3AT, UK
  • *A full list of authors and their affiliations appears at the end of this paper.

Abstract. Glaciers and ice sheets host abundant and dynamic communities of microorganisms on the ice surface (supraglacial environments). Recently, it has been shown that Streptophyte ice algae blooming on the surface ice of the south-west coast of the Greenland Ice Sheet are a significant contributor to the 15-year marked decrease in albedo. Currently little is known about the constraints, such as the nutrient cycling, on this large-scale algal bloom. In this study, we present a preliminary data set that investigates the conversion of dissolved inorganic nutrients to the dissolved organic phase occurring in these darkening surface ice environments. Our results show a clear dominance of the organic phase, with 93 % of the total dissolved nitrogen and 67 % of the total dissolved phosphorus in the organic phase. Correlations between algal abundance and dissolved organic carbon and nitrogen, indicate ice algae are driving the dissolved nutrient phase shift occurring in these supraglacial environments. Dissolved organic nutrient ratios in these supraglacial environments are notably higher than the Redfield Ratio (DON : DOP = 49, 78, 116) and DOC : DOP = 797, 1166, 2013), suggesting these environments may be phosphorus limited.

Alexandra T. Holland et al.
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Alexandra T. Holland et al.
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Short summary
This manuscript provides a preliminary data set for nutrient cycling in the Dark Zone of the Greenland Ice Sheet. The darkening has since been attributed to ice algal blooms, yet has not been accounted for in current melt rate models. We conclude that these blooms are the main drivers of nutrient cycling in these environments and C : N : P ratios suggest phosphorus limitation. These surface ice environments have the potential to supply large amounts of nutrients to downstream environments.
This manuscript provides a preliminary data set for nutrient cycling in the Dark Zone of the...
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