Antarctic sea ice retreat spurs plankton blooms

By Morgan Kelly

Hole in ice from above
Image provided by NASA Earth Observatory

Lauren von Berg, Class of 2020, is first author of a peer-reviewed paper studying the role of Antarctic sea ice in regulating the growth of the tiny algae known as phytoplankton. Published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters online May 24, 2020, the study found that the retreat of sea ice can significantly influence phytoplankton activity, and, thus, the amount of carbon dioxide the organisms can remove from the atmosphere. Von Berg, who majored in computer science, used her coding skills during her High Meadows Environmental Institute internship at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography to analyze data from floats deployed by the Southern Ocean Carbon and Climate Observations and Modeling project based at Princeton. “My computer science knowledge helped me jump right in,” von Berg said. “It was very exciting to see my work result in a peer-reviewed paper.”