Earth has experienced glacial/interglacial oscillations accompanied by changes in atmospheric CO2 throughout much of its history. Today over 15 million square kilometers of Earth’s land surface is covered in ice including glaciers, ice caps, and ice sheets. Glaciers are teeming with life and supraglacial snow and ice surfaces are often darkened by the presence of photoautotrophic snow algae, resulting in accelerated melt due to lowered albedo. Few studies report the productivity of snow algal communities and the parameters which constrain their growth on supraglacial surfaces—key factors for quantifying biologically induced albedo effects (bio-albedo). We demonstrate that snow algae primary productivity is stimulated by the addition of inorganic carbon. Our results indicate a positive feedback between increasing CO2 and snow algal primary productivity, underscoring the need for robust climate models of past and present glacial/interglacial oscillations to include feedbacks between supraglacial primary productivity, albedo, and atmospheric CO2.
PubMed: MeSH publication types
- Journal Article
- Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't