Snow algae in Kilpisjärvi

Anu Osva, Kesäjää /Summer Ice, 2013, acrylic on canvas, 140x120cm
Anu Osva, Snow Algae, Jehkas, acrylic, 2011, photo Heli Tuhkanen
Anu Osva, Snow Algae,Jehkas, 2011, acrylic, 2011, photo Heli Tuhkanen
Field work associated with the paintings  Kesäjää/Summer Ice and Snow Algae, Jehkas
The art and science initiative Ars Bioarctica run by the Finnish Bioart Society in cooperation with Kilpisjärvi Biological Station/Helsinki University  make possible for artists to focus their artistic work on areas of arctic biology and ecology.  I have used this opportunity.  Several visits to Kilpisjärvi during years 2008-2012  have led me to the world of arctic waters, water ecology and phytoplankton. I could not do this on my own.  I thank all water flea, plankton, algae and  water ecology researchers I have met during these years and who kindly helped me in many ways. Especially I want to thank Laura Forsström for inspiring cooperation.
Snow sample: Snow algae  found in Kilpisjärvi is a single cell  green algae, which forms red resting cysts. This algae, Chlamydomonas nivalis, diameter of cysts 20-30 um, lives in water pillars between snow or ice crystals. It is common in Arctic, Antarctic  and elsewhere on high altitudes. Red pigment (ataxchantin) protects the algae cell and DNA against UV-radiation.
– Kilpisjärvi/Jehkats mountins, 29.6.2011, 69°03′N; 20°50′E,  altitude 806 m (images 1 and 2)
In autumn 2012 I visited Jehkats again. I collected a small rock sample from the area where snow with snow algae had existed in summer 2011.  Microscopy showed that there  were snow algae cysts on the rocks (images 3 and 4).


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