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Algal Blooms in Frazil-Ice around Antarctica

Antarctic continental shelf waters are the most biologically productive in the Southern Ocean. Although satellite-derived algorithms report peak productivity during the austral spring/early summer, recent studies provide evidence for substantial late summer productivity that is associated with green colored frazil ice. Here we analyze daily Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer satellite images for February and March from 2003 to 2017 to identify green colored frazil ice hot spots. Green frazil ice is concentrated in 11 of the 13 major sea ice production polynyas, with the greenest frazil ice in the Terra Nova Bay and Cape Darnley polynyas. While there is substantial interannual variability, green frazil ice is present over greater than 300,000 km2 during March. Late summer frazil ice-associated algal productivity may be a major phenomenon around Antarctica that is not considered in regional carbon and ecosystem models.