Cryo-researchers have found algal blooms below the polar ice that are far more robust than once thought, and that could explain some things:
(CNN) — Researchers were amazed to discover a colossal 100 kilometer (62 miles) stretch of phytoplankton blooming under Arctic ice, north of Alaska, in July last year.
It had previously been assumed that sea ice blocked the sunlight necessary for the growth of marine plants. But four times more phytoplankton was found under the ice than in ice-free waters nearby.
Scientists now believe that pools of melting ice actually function like skylights and magnifying glasses, focusing sunlight into sea water, providing the perfect conditions for the intense phytoplankton bloom, which makes the water look like pea soup.
That might also help explain how life survived and thrived during the snowball earth phase hundreds of millions of years ago, when most or all of the planet was covered by ice.