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Laser-induced fluorescence emission (LIFE) from Lake Fryxell (Antarctica) cryoconites

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Laser-induced fluorescence emission (LIFE) images were obtained in situ from a 27 cm long ice core at Lake Fryxell, Antarctica. The excitation was accomplished with a simple 532 nm green laser pen light, and the fluorescence images were captured with a small compact digital camera. The targets for the experiment were mm-scale cryoconite assemblages found in the ice covers of this perennially frozen Antarctic lake. The fluorescence response originates from photo-pigments in cyanobacteria-dominated cryoconite assemblages with phycoerythrin (PE) exhibiting the optimal target cross section. This inexpensive, low-mass, low-energy method avoids manipulation of the in situ habitat and individual target organisms and does not disturb the microbial community or the surrounding ice matrix. We establish the correlation between fluorescence intensity and PE concentration. We show that cryoconite fluorescence response does not appear to decrease with depth in the ice cover, in agreement with similar findings at Lake Untersee, a perennially ice-covered lake in Dronning Maud Land, Antarctica. Optical reflection and refraction events at the air/ice interface can complicate quantitative estimates of total pigment concentrations. Laser targeting of a single mm-scale cryoconite can result in multiple neighboring excitation events secondary to reflection and refraction phenomena in the multiple air/ice interface of the bubbles surrounding the primary target.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: 2010-12-01

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  • The Annals of Glaciology is a peer-reviewed, thematic journal published 2 to 4 times a year by the International Glaciological Society (IGS). Publication frequency is determined and volume/issue numbers assigned by the IGS Council on a year-to-year basis and with a lead time of 3 to 4 years. The Annals of Glaciology is included in the ISI Science Citation Index from volume 50, number 50 onwards.

    Themes can be on any aspect of the study of snow and ice. Individual members can make a suggestion for a theme for an Annals issue to the Secretary General, who will forward it to the IGS Publications Committee. The IGS Publication Committee will make a recommendation for an individual themed Annals issue, together with a potential Annals Chief Editor for that issue, to IGS Council. The IGS Council will make the decision whether to proceed, taking into account the spread of topics and the overall capacity for publication of pages in Annals.

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