Marine Biology

, 164:87 | Cite as

Effects of CO2 concentration on a late summer surface sea ice community

  • Andrew McMinnEmail author
  • Marius N. Müller
  • Andrew Martin
  • Sarah C. Ugalde
  • Shihong Lee
  • Katerina Castrisios
  • Ken G. Ryan
Original paper


Annual fast ice at Scott Base (Antarctica) in late summer contained a high biomass surface community of mixed phytoflagellates, dominated by the dinoflagellate, Polarella glacialis. At this time of the year, ice temperatures rise close to melting point and salinities drop to less than 20. At the same time, pH levels can rise above 9 and nutrients can become limiting. In January 2014, the sea ice microbial community from the top 30 cm of the ice was exposed to a gradient of pH and CO2 (5 treatments) that ranged from 8.87 to 7.12 and 5–215 µmol CO2 kg−1, respectively, and incubated in situ. While growth rates were reduced at the highest and lowest pH, the differences were not significant. Likewise, there were no significant differences in maximum quantum yield of PSII (F v/F m) or relative maximum electron transfer rates (rETRmax) among treatments. In a parallel experiment, a CO2 gradient of 26–230 µmol CO2 kg−1 (5 treatments) was tested, keeping pH constant. In this experiment, growth rates increased by approximately 40% with increasing CO2, although differences among treatments were not significant.. As in the previous experiment, there was no significant response in F v/F m or rETRmax. A synchronous grazing dilution experiment found grazing rates to be inconclusive These results suggest that the summer sea ice brine communities were not limited by in situ CO2 concentrations and were not adversely affected by pH values down to 7.1.


Sea ice algae CO2 pH Summer Brine Antarctica 



We wish to acknowledge financial support from Australian Antarctic Science Grants (AAS 4319) and Victoria University of Wellington Grant 100241. We would also like to thank Antarctica New Zealand for logistical support at Scott Base.

Compliance with ethical standards


For this study was provided from Australian Antarctic Science Grants (AAS 4319, McMinn) and Victoria University of Wellington Grant 100241 (Ryan).

Conflict of interest

The authors McMinn, Müller, Ugalde, Martin, Lee, and Ryan declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical approval

This article does not contain any studies with animals performed by any of the authors.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute for Marine and Antarctic StudiesUniversity of TasmaniaHobartAustralia
  2. 2.Oceanographic Institute at the University of São Paulo (IO-USP)São PauloBrazil
  3. 3.School of Biological SciencesVictoria University of WellingtonWellingtonNew Zealand

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