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Reconstructing sea ice history with Polarella

Last week, our colleagues Sara Hardardottir (HAFRO, Iceland) and Sofia Ribeiro (GEUS, Denmark) published a new study on using ancient DNA of a specific sea ice algae to reconstruct past climate change in the Arctic.

A few years ago, Sara and Sofia came to our lab in Bergen to further develop this DNA-based method that detects the sea ice dinoflagellate Polarella glacialis (see pictures) in marine sediments. We hinted in our publication from 2019 that such approach could be useful for sea ice reconstructions. It is now fantastic to see that our colleagues took our early work much further and demonstrate that this indeed works. Because there are very few tools for reconstructing sea ice, a crucial component in the climate system, we can now advance our knowledge on sea ice in the past. And since this unique sea ice organism also lives in Antarctica, it can be useful there too to unravel the past history of sea ice.

Press release about the paper from GEUS is here. Full reference and link to the new publication:

Sara Harðardóttir, James Haile, Jessica Louise Ray, Audrey Limoges, Nicolas Van Nieuwenhove, Catherine Lalande, Pierre-Luc Grondin, Rebecca Jackson, Katrine Sandnes Skaar, Maija Heikillä, Jørgen Berge, Nina Lundholm, Guillaume Massé, Søren Rysgaard, Marit-Solveig Seidenkrantz, Stijn De Schepper, Eline D. Lorenzen, Connie Lovejoy, Sofia Ribeiro 2024. Millennial-scale variations in Arctic sea ice are recorded in sedimentary ancient DNA of the microalga Polarella glacialis. Communications Earth and Environment 5, 25, doi: 10.1038/s43247-023-01179-5.