Rise in the number and sizes of melt ponds due to increase in global warming may boost life in the Arctic waters, a new study has found. Melt ponds provide more light and heat for the ice and the underlying water, but now it turns out that they may also have a more direct and potentially important influence on life in the Arctic waters, researchers said. Researchers from University of Southern Denmark selected six melt ponds in Young Sound in North-Eastern Greenland, two natural and four artificial basins.
Phosphorous and nitrogen (nutrients, which are also known from common garden fertiliser) were added in various combinations to four ponds, while two served as control ponds.
For a period of up to 13 days researchers measured many different parameters in the melt water, including the content of Chlorophyll a: a pigment that enables algae to absorb energy from light.
The chlorophyll content of the phosphorus and nitrogen – enriched ponds was two to 10 times higher than in the control ponds and testifies to an increased content of algae. Mats of algae and bacteria can evolve in the melt ponds, which can provide food for marine creatures, researchers said.
The melt ponds can form their own little ecosystem. When all the sea ice melts during the summer, algae and other organisms from melt ponds are released into the surrounding seawater, researchers said.
“Some of this food is immediately ingested by creatures living high up in the water column. Other food sinks to the bottom and gets eaten by seabed dwellers,” said Heidi Louise Sorensen of University of Southern Denmark. “Given that larger and larger areas of melt ponds are being formed in the Arctic, we can expect the release of more and more food for creatures in the polar sea,” she added. The study was published in the journal Polar Biology.