• absorption;
  • Antarctica;
  • diatoms;
  • photoacclimation;
  • photosynthetic efficiency;
  • photosynthetic rate;
  • quantum yield;
  • salinity adaptation;
  • sea ice;
  • temperature adaptation


The responses of sea ice microalgae to variation in ambient irradiance (0 to 150 μE · m−2· s−1), temperature (–6° to + 6° C), and salinity (0 to 100 ppt) were tested to determine whether these variables act independently or in concert to influence rates of microalgal photosynthesis. The photosynthetic efficiency and maximum photosynthetic rate for sea ice microalgae increased as a function of incubation temperature between -6° and + 6° C. Furthermore, photosynthetic efficiency, maximum photosynthetic rate, and quantum yield were greatest at salinities between SO and 50 ppt. In contrast, the mean specific absorption coefficients were lowest near seawater salinities, and the saturating irradiance, Is, appeared to be inversely proportional to salinity. Results also suggest that the effects of salinity on the growth of sea ice microalgae are independent of those elicited by temperature or light, and that the functional relationship between salinity and light or temperature is multiplicative. This information is essential to the proper formulation of algorithms used to describe algal growth in environments where light, temperature, and salinity are changing simultaneously, such as within sea ice or within the water column at the marginal ice edge zone.