Measuring Essential Climate Variables in Sea Ice

SCOR Working Group 152, Since 2016


Observations over recent decades suggest that sea ice plays a significant role in global biogeochemical cycles, providing an active biogeochemical interface at the ocean-atmosphere boundary. However, a pressing need exists to perform methodological intercalibration experiments in order to obtain reliable measurements of basic biogeochemical properties, including many of the Essential Climate Variables of the Global Climate Observing System. With newly emerging techniques, and pressed by the rapid changes in sea ice, the time has come to evaluate and improve our approach to study sea-ice systems. In 2016, the Scientific Committee on Oceanic Research (SCOR) launched Working Group 152 on Measuring Essential Climate Variables in Sea Ice (ECV-Ice). This working group will synthesize past intercalibration exercises and design and coordinate new experiments. Our ultimate goal is to provide the international community with standardized protocols for processing sea-ice samples and collecting data for key variables, including CO2 partial pressure, nutrients, algal biomass and production, and gas exchange. We will also establish the effectiveness of new techniques to address sea-ice heterogeneity (often referred to as “patchiness”). These tasks will directly benefit the long-term community goal of understanding the response of polar marine environments to ongoing climate change.



Daiki Nomura (Hokkaido University, Japan)

François Fripiat (Max Planck Institute for Chemistry, Germany)

Brent Else (University of Calgary, Canada)

Other Full Members:

Bruno Delille (University of Liège, Belgium)

Mar Fernandez-Méndez (Norwegian Polar Institute, Norway)

Lisa Miller (Institute of Ocean Sciences, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Canada)

Ilka Peeken (Alfred Wegener Institute, Germany)

Janne Markus Rintala (University of Helsinki, Finland)

Maria van Leeuwe (University of Groningen, the Netherlands)

Fan Zhang (Polar Research Institute of China)

Associate Members:

Katarina Abrahamsson (University of Gothenberg, Sweden)

Jeff Bowman (Scripps Institution of Oceanography, USA)

James France (University of East Anglia, UK)

Agneta Fransson (Norwegian Polar Institute, Norway)

Delphine Lannuzel (Australian Antarctic Division, University of Tasmania, Australia)

Brice Loose (University of Rhode Island, USA)

Klaus Meiners (Australian Antarctic Division, University of Tasmania, Australia)

Christopher J. Mundy (University of Manitoba, Canada)

Hyoung Chul Shin (Korean Polar Research Institute, Korea)

Jean-Louis Tison (Université libre de Bruxelles, Belgium)

Marcello Vichi (University of Cape Town, South Africa )


#1: April 2017, San Diego, California, USA

#2: June 2018, Davos, Switzerland

#3: August 2019, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada (Plan)


#1: Butterworth, B. J. and Else, B. G. T.: Dried, closed-path eddy covariance method for measuring carbon dioxide flux over sea ice, Atmos. Meas. Tech., 11, 6075-6090,, 2018.

#2: Meiners, K. M., Vancoppenolle, M., Carnat, G., Castellani, G., Delille, B., Delille, D., Dieckmann, G.S., Flores, H., Fripiat, F. Grotti, M., Lange, B. A., Lannuzel, D., Martin, A., McMinn, A., Nomura, D., Peeken, I., Rivaro, P., Ryan K. G., Stefels J., Swadling K. M., Thomas D. N., Tison J.-L., van der Merwe, P., van Leeuwe, M. A., Weldrick, C., Yang, E. J.: Chlorophyll-a in Antarctic land-fast sea ice: a first synthesis of historical ice-core data. Journal of Geophysical Research-Oceans, 123., 2018.

#3: Roukaerts, A., Nomura, D., Deman, F., Hattori, H., Dehairs, F., Fripiat, F.: The effect of melting treatments on the assessment of biomass and nutrients in sea ice (Saroma-ko lagoon, Hokkaido, Japan), Polar Biology, 42, 347–356, 2019.

#4: Campbell, K., Mundy, C. J., Juhl, A. R., Dalman, L. A., Michel, C., Galley, R. J., Else, B. E., Geilfus, N. X., and Rysgaard, S.: Melt Procedure Affects the Photosynthetic Response of Sea Ice Algae. Front. Earth Sci. 7:21. doi: 10.3389/feart.2019.00021, 2019.

Inter-calibration experiments

#1: March 2016

Saroma-ko Lagoon, Hokkaido, Japan

The effect of melting treatments on the assessment of biomass and nutrients in sea ice

Melting of sea ice samples is an inevitable step in obtaining reliable and representative measurements for biogeochemical parameters such as inorganic nutrients and particulate matter. The impact of the sea ice melting procedure has been previously evaluated for biological parameters such as chlorophyll a and cell abundance. For nutrient and biomass concentrations in sea ice it is generally considered to be best practice to melt samples fast, however no systematic evaluation exists in literature. The impact of melting temperature and buffer addition to avoid osmotic shock was tested on ice sampled in Saroma-ko Lagoon on the northeastern coast of Hokkaido, Japan. The focus was on inorganic nutrient concentrations (NO3-, NO2-, PO4-, NH4+, Si(OH)4) and particulate organic carbon and nitrogen concentrations and their isotope ratios. Coherent small changes have been observed for the parameter related to nitrogen, suggesting marginal cell lysis of a specific part of the microbial community. When differences are statistically significant, they are close to the uncertainty of the measurements and small in regard to the expected natural variation in sea ice. Our study suggest a minimal effect between melting treatments on biomass (POC, PN and Chl a) and nutrient measurements in diatom dominated sea ice and should be repeated where the sympagic community is dominated by flagellates.

Detailed paper:

Roukaerts A., Nomura D., Deman F., Hattori H., Dehairs F., Fripiat F.: The effect of melting treatments on the assessment of biomass and nutrients in sea ice (Saroma-ko lagoon, Hokkaido, Japan) Polar Biology, 42, 347–356, 2019.

#2: March 2018

Saroma-ko Lagoon, Hokkaido, Japan

Sea ice primary production

We examined the inter-calibration experiment for sea ice primary production. Target methods for sea ice primary production was: 13C incubation, dissolved oxygen incubation, biomass accumulation, chlorophyll fluorescence, Ar/O2, DIC/TA, and under-ice eddy covariance methods etc. All sampling and process were finished and now data processing and analyzing samples. Preliminary results were shown in Davos, Switzerland, June 2018.

#3: February 2019

Saroma-ko Lagoon, Hokkaido, Japan

Under/over ice light measurements

Light measurements were carried out over/under the sea ice, and the spectrometers were inter-compared between the different sensors at the same position and environment. Preliminary results will show in ECV-Ice/BEPSII annual meeting (16-18 August 2019), Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada.

Participant: Daiki Nomura, Pat Wongpan, Takenobu Toyota, Tomonori Tanikawa, Yusuke Kawaguchi, Takashi Ono, Tomomi Ishino, Manami Tozawa, Tetsuya P. Tamura, Itsuka Yabe, Eun Yae Son, Frederic Vivier, Antonio Lourenco, Marion Lebrun, Yuichi Nosaka, and Martin Vancoppenolle.

#4: Fall 2019 (Plan)

Roland von Glasgow sea ice chamber in Univ. of East Anglia, UK

Gases in sea ice and flux

#5: Spring 2021 (Plan)

CHARS station, Cambridge Bay, Canada

Primary production, gas exchanges, and ancillary parameters (biomass, nutrients, …),


Saroma work 2016 (D. Nomura)

Saroma work 2018 (D. Nomura)

Saroma work 2018 (D. Nomura)

Saroma work 2019 (D. Nomura)

Saroma work 2019 (P. Wongpan)