Different intensities of high temperatures affect the growth of photosynthetic cells in nature. To elucidate the underlying mechanisms, we cultivated the unicellular green alga Chlamydomonas reinhardtii under highly controlled photobioreactor conditions and revealed systems-wide shared and unique responses to 24-hour moderate (35°C) and acute (40°C) high temperatures and subsequent recovery at 25°C. We identified previously overlooked unique elements in response to moderate high temperature. Heat at 35°C transiently arrested the cell cycle followed by partial synchronization, up-regulated transcripts/proteins involved in gluconeogenesis/glyoxylate-cycle for carbon uptake and promoted growth. But 40°C disrupted cell division and growth. Both high temperatures induced photoprotection, while 40°C distorted thylakoid/pyrenoid ultrastructure, affected the carbon concentrating mechanism, and decreased photosynthetic efficiency. We demonstrated increased transcript/protein correlation during both heat treatments and hypothesize reduced post-transcriptional regulation during heat may help efficiently coordinate thermotolerance mechanisms. During recovery after both heat treatments, especially 40°C, transcripts/proteins related to DNA synthesis increased while those involved in photosynthetic light reactions decreased. We propose down-regulating photosynthetic light reactions during DNA replication benefits cell cycle resumption by reducing ROS production. Our results provide potential targets to increase thermotolerance in algae and crops.