European Commission logo
English English
CORDIS - EU research results

CArbon Production of under-ICE phytoplankton blooms in a changing Arctic Ocean

Project description

The impact of Arctic sea ice and phytoplankton on climate change

Climate change has already inflicted severe damage on people and properties worldwide, compelling countries and organisations to take action in reducing its impact and mitigating its consequences. The decline of sea ice in the Arctic Ocean is considered a significant factor contributing to climate change, and its rapid decrease has prompted concerns among scientists. Moreover, the recent discovery of substantial under-ice phytoplankton blooms (UIBs) that play a crucial role in Arctic Ocean ecology has raised numerous important questions. The EU-funded CAP-ICE project aims to establish and coordinate an international research network focused on UIBs and their impact on the Arctic carbon cycle and climate change. To achieve this goal, the project will leverage advanced technologies and conduct pan-Arctic field observations.


Over the last decades, sea-ice in the Arctic Ocean (AO) has undergone unprecedented changes, with drastic decline in its extent, thickness and duration. Modern climate models are unable to simulate these changes, leading to large uncertainties in Arctic and Global Change predictions. Sea-ice strongly attenuates solar radiation and it is generally thought that phytoplankton, which drives Arctic marine CO2 sequestration, only grow in open waters once sea-ice retreats in spring. However, the discovery of large under-ice phytoplankton blooms (UIBs) growing beneath sea-ice contradicts this paradigm. UIB productivity in ice-covered regions has been suggested to be ten-fold larger than presently modeled. By initiating an international network (USA, France, Canada, Germany, Norway), the CAP-ICE project will acquire knowledge on the occurrence of UIBs, the physical mechanisms that control their initiation and productivity, and will quantify how UIBs affect the Arctic carbon cycle and climate.
CAP-ICE will equally combine observational, modeling and novel technology approaches. Multiple pan-Arctic expeditions will provide new field observations on the environmental conditions controlling UIBs. Since UIBs are invisible to ocean color satellite sensors, developing a novel model adapted to under-ice environments will allow quantifying the contribution of UIBs to the Arctic carbon cycle. Finally, the recent launch of autonomous robotic platforms (Bio-Argo floats) will support the first assessment of UIB primary production and carbon export in AO and the implementation of a Bio-Argo Arctic network. These inter-disciplinary and innovative activities will establish a two-way exchange of knowledge between the researcher/fellow and the host institutions and enhance their European and international competitiveness. Outcomes of CAP-ICE will have an impact on the European strategy for global ocean observations, enhance European research excellence, and address a major societal challenge.


Net EU contribution
€ 264 668,40
75006 Paris

See on map

Ile-de-France Ile-de-France Paris
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Total cost
€ 264 668,40

Partners (1)