Iron-rich meltwater from Greenland’s glaciers are helping fuel a summer bloom of phytoplankton.
Iron particles catching a ride on glacial meltwater washed out to sea by drifting currents is likely fueling a recently discovered summer algal bloom off the southern coast of Greenland, according to a new study.
Microalgae, also known as phytoplankton, are plant-like, marine microorganisms that form the base of the food web in many parts of the ocean. “Phytoplankton serve as food for all of the fish and animals that live there. Everything that eats is eating them ultimately,” said Kevin Arrigo, a biological oceanographer and the Donald and Donald M. Steel Professor at Stanford’s School of Earth, Energy & Environmental Sciences.
Greenland’s summer phytoplankton bloom had gone largely unnoticed until just recently, despite the fact that it blankets 200,000 square miles and turns the waters of much of the Labrador Sea turquoise. “It’s one of those places where people just don’t sample very much,” Arrigo said. “We have satellite images of this region going back years, but almost nobody’s looked at this particular spot during the summer.”
After learning about the summer bloom a few years ago, Arrigo and his team set out to discover what might be fueling it.
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