Navigation Links
Climate change and life in the Southern Ocean
Date:11/27/2007

Bremerhaven, November 27, 2007. A ten-week expedition to the Lazarev Sea and the eastern part of the Weddell Sea opens this year's Antarctic research season of the German research vessel Polarstern. On the evening of November 28, just some two hours after an official ceremony at the Berlin Museum of Natural History honouring Polarstern's 25th anniversary of service, the research vessel will begin its 24th scientific voyage to the Southern Ocean from Cape Town. The 53 scientists from eight nations aboard Polarstern will focus much of their work on climate-related research as part of the International Polar Year. In addition, Polarstern will also supply the German Neumayer Station during the first leg of the trip, and accompany the freighter ‘Naja Arctica' which will deliver construction materials for the new research station Neumayer III to the Antarctic. On February 4, 2008, Polarstern is expected to return to Cape Town.

"Our research projects will improve the understanding of physical and biological processes associated with the Antarctic Circumpolar Current and the Weddell Gyre, both of which play a key role for the earth's climate", explains chief scientist Prof Dr Ulrich Bathmann of the Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research in the Helmholtz Association, referring to the central goal of the expedition. Plankton algae from these two marine currents south of the Atlantic Ocean are absorbing significant amounts of the climate gas carbon dioxide through their growth during the summer. By sinking to the Antarctic deep sea, these algae are subsequently transferring the carbon dioxide to the seafloor, where, in some cases below 4000 meter water depth, they provide food for bottom dwelling organisms. "The efficiency of this biological pump is controlled, for example, by nutrients, by physical dynamics in the ocean surface layer, and by the species of algae involved", says Bathmann. "We have to investigate these complex interactions further, in order to optimise scientific climate predictions."

The region covered by Polarstern during this mission extends from 40 to 70 degrees southern latitude, i.e. from the so-called subtropical convergence, a hydrological boundary separating the Antarctic from the Atlantic Ocean, and the Antarctic continent. The scientific studies aboard Polarstern, aside from being highly relevant for climate research, are part of three large international programmes within the International Polar Year framework.

The research programme SCACE (Synoptic Circum-Antarctic Climate and Ecosystem Study) explores physical and biological interrelations in the Antarctic Circumpolar Current, comparing recently recorded parameters with historical data. "The Antarctic Circumpolar Current measures several hundred kilometres across, surrounding the Antarctic continent and connecting all large oceans", explains Ulrich Bathmann. "This large ocean current transports both heat energy and fresh water, plays a central role in the ocean-wide cycles of dissolved material, and contains a series of distinct ecosystems that may displace each other with changing climate regimes. Plankton algae involved have a high potential for absorbing atmospheric carbon dioxide", the marine biologist adds about the significance of the Antarctic Circumpolar Current for the functioning of the system Earth. At the same time, Southern Ocean natural systems themselves are extremely sensitive to global changes. Hence, one of the central tasks of the SCACE programme will consist in collecting a unique data set that can serve as a benchmark for comparison with existing data to identify and quantify polar changes.

A special role for food webs in the Southern Ocean is played by krill. This group of crustaceans, which may also become interesting for economic purposes, has been relatively well studied in some few regions of the Antarctic, for instance surrounding the Antarctic Peninsula. However, as some of the results revealed, the krill's seasonal survival mechanisms show large regional variation, so extrapolations from local studies to a wider area are hardly possible. For this reason, the research project LAKRIS (Lazarev Sea Krill Study) will be a detailed investigation into the life cycle, distribution and physiology of krill populations in the Lazarev Sea. According to existing information, krill is very abundant in this area. "In this case also, our primary question of interest is the krill's ability to adapt to potential environmental changes", explains Ulrich Bathmann the connection to climate research. The LAKRIS study will complement similar large-scale investigations in other regions of the Antarctic.

While the continental shelf regions surrounding Antarctica are relatively well known, the Antarctic deep sea remains practically unexplored. Large areas of the seafloor around Antarctica, however, are deep-sea environments. Led by Prof Dr Angelika Brandt of the Zoological Institute of the University of Hamburg the third expedition project, ANDEEP-SYSTCO, tries to shed light on this unknown world. The acronym envelops an Antarctic deep-sea research programme, exploring various regions of the Southern Ocean at several thousand meters of depth with the primary goal of analysing interactions among atmosphere, water column and seafloor. "Since deep sea research continues to take us to unknown worlds, we are expecting some new and fascinating insights regarding biological diversity in the ocean, perhaps even the discovery of previously unknown species", explains Bathmann. The Polarstern expedition thus is part of two major global research initiatives studying marine biodiversity: the ‘Census of Antarctic Marine Life' (CAML), and the ‘Census of the Diversity of Abyssal Marine Life' (CeDAMar), both of which are sub-programmes of the so-called ‘Census of Marine Life'.

Before Polarstern will depart from Cape Town on November 28, however, Ulrich Bathmann will take part in the ship's anniversary celebration in Berlin -- not in person, but live on the telephone. "This ship has enabled so many extraordinary scientific insights, that it does deserve to be honoured", says the scientist who attended many expeditions aboard Polarstern. "It's a great pleasure to be able to make a personal contribution."


'/>"/>

Contact: Ralf Roechert
Ralf.Roechert@awi.de
49-471-483-11680
Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research  
Source:Eurekalert

Related biology news :

1. Climate change goes underground
2. Opportunity for students displaced by Katrina to assess climate vulnerability of Southeast US
3. Climate -- no smoking gun for Neanderthals
4. NASA celebrates a decade observing climate impacts on health of worlds oceans
5. NASA celebrates a decade observing climate impacts on health of worlds oceans
6. University and state agencies to forecast local health effects of climate change
7. A greenhouse in order to study the impact of climate change on plants
8. European lead in reading past climates from ice cores
9. International team of scientists warns of climate changes impact on global river flow
10. Heaps of climate gas
11. Nobel Peace Prize 2007 to intergovernmental panel on climate change
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
Related Image:
Climate change and life in the Southern Ocean
(Date:8/23/2017)... ARMONK, N.Y. , Aug. 23, 2017  The general public,s help ... the human microbiome—the bacteria that live in and on the human body ... ... bacteria in the human microbiome, starting with the gut. The project's goal ... in disease. Photo credit: IBM ...
(Date:7/20/2017)... 2017 Delta (NYSE: DAL ) customers now can ... at Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA). ... Delta launches biometrics to board aircraft at Reagan ... Delta,s biometric boarding pass experience that ... now integrated into the boarding process to allow eligible Delta SkyMiles Members ...
(Date:6/23/2017)... and ITHACA, N.Y. , ... and Cornell University, a leader in dairy research, today ... bioinformatics designed to help reduce the chances that the ... the onset of this dairy project, Cornell University has ... for Sequencing the Food Supply Chain, a food safety ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:10/11/2017)... Netherlands and LAGUNA HILLS, Calif. ... Institute of Cancer Research, London (ICR) ... MMprofiler™ with SKY92, SkylineDx,s prognostic tool to risk-stratify patients with ... known as MUK nine . The University of ... which is partly funded by Myeloma UK, and ICR will ...
(Date:10/10/2017)... , ... October 10, 2017 ... ... cancer-focused pharmaceutical company advancing targeted antibody-drug conjugate (ADC) therapeutics, today confirmed licensing ... HPLN (Hybrid Polymerized Liposomal Nanoparticle), a technology developed in collaboration with Children’s ...
(Date:10/10/2017)... ... October 10, 2017 , ... USDM Life Sciences , ... life sciences and healthcare industries, announces a presentation by Subbu Viswanathan and Jennifer ... “Automating GxP Validation for Agile Cloud Platforms,” will present a revolutionary approach to ...
(Date:10/9/2017)... ... 09, 2017 , ... The Giving Tree Wellness Center announces ... needs of consumers who are incorporating medical marijuana into their wellness and health ... As operators of two successful Valley dispensaries, The Giving Tree’s two founders, Lilach ...
Breaking Biology Technology: