Mapping Ice Algal Blooms in Southwest Greenland From Space

Shujie Wang, Marco Tedesco, Min Xu, Patrick M. Alexander

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


Quantifying the distribution and abundance of ice algae is fundamental for understanding the evolving processes of algal blooms in supraglacial environments, particularly over the Greenland ice sheet, given the role of algal impurities in modulating surface albedo and meltwater production. Field observations of ice algae in Greenland are very limited over space and time. Here we show for the first time the regional variability in algal abundance across the dark zone in southwest Greenland, derived from Sentinel-3 images acquired during the summertime in 2016 and 2017. We demonstrate the capacity of Sentinel-3 imagery to characterize the spatial pattern of algal abundance using the reflectance ratios between 709- and 673-nm bands, highly consistent with field measurements. The estimated algal abundance reveals a significant linear growth pattern of algal population with time after the peak of dark ice presence, shown to be tightly linked to surface runoff and meltwater production.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)11,779-11,788
JournalGeophysical Research Letters
Issue number21
StatePublished - Nov 16 2018

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geophysics
  • General Earth and Planetary Sciences


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