Drivers and variability of the phytoplankton spring bloom

Drivers and variability of the phytoplankton spring bloom

Research leader: Tobias Vonnahme, PostDoc, Greenland Climate Research Center, Greenland Institute of Natural Sciences
Others involved: Thomas Juul-Pedersen, Senior Scientist, Greenland Climate Research Centre, GINR

Keywords: Phytoplankton, Spring Bloom, MarineBasis Nuuk, Primary Production, Diversity

Research area, purpose and research questions:
The aim of the project is to study phytoplankton spring bloom dynamics in high temporal and spatial resolution for
identifying and quantifying the key drivers. I will study the drivers of the timing, biomass, and community structure
of the bloom, which requires high frequency sampling due to spring blooms often changing within days or weeks.
Also spatially, blooms can be very dynamic due to local differences in currents. In Godthåbsfjorden, the Coriolis
force can lead to a higher outflow at the Northern site and a higher inflow at the Southern side of the fjord, which
requires transect sampling across the fjord to quantify the bloom accurately. I will combine field work and
experiments to determine when a spring bloom is dominated by the flagellate Phaeocystis, which is often a poor
food source for higher trophic levels, and when the bloom is dominated by chain-forming diatoms, which are highly
nutritious for grazers. The high-resolution sampling in combination with historical data from the marine Monitoring
station will allow to understand the dynamics and their drivers in great detail and to identify and discuss trends in a
changing climate.

Methods of inclusion of society and dissemination to society:
The project will be integrated in the graduate course “Arctic marine ecosystems in a changing climate”, part of the
“Arctic Science Study Programme (ASSP)” offered at the Greenland Institute for Natural Resources (GINR) in
collaboration with the Aarhus University (AU). The students will be directly involved in part of the field and lab work,
finishing with student reports in the end of the course.

The results and field work will mainly be disseminated to the community via the GINR channels (website, social
media). In addition, we will be accompanied by Ondrej Nowak, a radio journalist from the “Czech Radio”, who
already successfully broadcasted a program from our earlier work on Svalbard. The results will furthermore be
disseminated at the Greenland Science Week (Nuuk) and the Cultural Night (Nuuk).

Project start and completion date: 01/05/2022 – 31/12/2022

Granted: 87.169,00 kr.

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