Scientists studying algae for NASA have discovered it in the most unusual of places: beneath the Arctic ice, reports AFP. What's more, there's a lot of it, defying the conventional belief that it couldn't grow there because there was too little light. The discovery, outlined in the new edition of Science, could shake up the current understanding of the region's ecosystem.
"We were astonished," says a Stanford University scientist in on the discovery off the Alaskan coast. "If you rank all the phytoplankton blooms anywhere in the world by the amount of phytoplankton that is contained in them, the under-ice bloom that we saw ... would finish at the very top of the list." The algae seems prevalent wherever first-year polar ice is present, and the National Post notes that such ice is becoming more common as thicker multi-year ice retreats.