It is spring in Ny-Ålesund in Svalbard, after a long and cold winter. These days the temperature is around 4 degrees. But in the cold waters of Kongsfjorden, the spring bloom is well underway.
By Allison Bailey, Ane Cecilie Kvernvik, Philipp Assmy, Anette Wold and Haakon Hop, Norwegian Polar Institute (NPI), 13.5.2020
In May, when air temperatures in Ny-Ålesund, Svalbard, were still well under zero, the spring bloom was underway in the cold waters of Kongsfjorden. Researchers from the Norwegian Polar Institute and Alfred Wegener Institute were on site in the research community of Ny-Ålesund to track the timing of the spring algae bloom.
On May 12, the researchers were out on RV Teisten taking water samples (in -8 oC air temperatures) and detected the beginning of the spring bloom at 20 m depth in the fjord. Water temperatures were still cold from winter (-1 to 0 oC), but phytoplankton, the millions of cells suspended in seawater that are like the plants of the sea, were happily dividing and growing in Kongsfjorden. This marks the beginning of the growing season for many animals in the fjord, dynamics which will be tracked by NPI researchers.
Chain-forming diatoms of the genus Thalassiosira