A red tide in the pack ice of the Arctic Ocean
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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n the Arctic Ocean ice algae constitute a key ecosystem component and the ice algal spring bloom a critical event in the annual production cycle. The bulk of ice algal biomass is usually found in the bottom few cm of the sea ice and dominated by pennate diatoms attached to the ice matrix. Here we report a red tide of the phototrophic ciliate Mesodinium rubrum located at the ice-water interface of newly formed pack ice of the high Arctic in early spring. These planktonic ciliates are not able to attach to the ice. Based on observations and theory of fluid dynamics, we propose that convection caused by brine rejection in growing sea ice enabled M. rubrum to bloom at the ice-water interface despite the relative flow between water and ice. We argue that red tides of M. rubrum are more likely to occur under the thinning Arctic sea ice regime.