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Keywords:

  • ice algae;
  • modeling;
  • seasonal cycle

[1] We have developed a coupled snow-ice–ice algae model to investigate the importance of different ice algal growth limitation terms, as well as different loss terms, in regulating the ice algal biomass accumulation at the bottom of landfast ice in the Canadian Archipelago. The model results are compared with data collected from May to July 2002 at a station near Resolute in Barrow Strait. Our results show that ice algae are light limited at the beginning of the bloom, then fluctuate between light and nutrient limitation, finally remaining nutrient limited toward the end of the bloom. The fortnightly tide modulates the ice algal biomass through the supply of nutrient to the ice algal layer but mainly through modulation of the bottom ice melt rate. We also demonstrate that the bottom ice melt rate regulates the maximum biomass attained in the region and that a rapid increase in ice temperature can lead to a significant decline in ice algal biomass. The eventual termination of the bloom is triggered by melting of the snow cover and results from (1) increased ice algal losses due to high bottom ice melt rate and (2) decreased ice algal growth due to nutrient limitation caused by the formation of a meltwater lens below the ice. Finally, our results show that the snow cover controls the length of the bloom, such that earlier snowmelt that is expected to accompany climate warming may lead to a reduction in ice algal production.