In a report published in this week's issue of Science, a team of oceanographers, including MBL (Marine Biological Laboratory) Ecosystems Center director Hugh Ducklow, outline a polar ocean observation strategy they say will revolutionize scientists' understanding of marine ecosystem response to climate change. The approach, which calls for the use of a suite of automated technologies that complement traditional data collection, could serve as a model for marine ecosystems worldwide and help form the foundation for a comprehensive polar ocean observation system.
The complexity of marine food webs and the "chronic under-sampling" of the world's oceans present major constraints to predicting the future of and optimally managing and protecting marine resources. "We know more about Venus than we do about the Earth's oceans," says Ducklow. "We need an ocean observation system analogous to meteorological monitoring for weather forecasting, but it's harder to do in the ocean."
In polar oceans in particular, including the Western Antarctic Peninsula (WAP) where Ducklow and his colleagues conduct research as part of the NSF's Long-Term Ecological Research project at Palmer Station, high operation costs and harsh conditions restrict the coverage provided by research ships, where much of the data on this ecosystem is collected. To overcome these hurdles, oceanographers around the world have been developing technologies to complement traditional data collection by research ships. The coordinated use of these technologies will enable sustained observations throughout the year in the polar oceans and could form the foundation for a comprehensive observation strategy the team says.
In their report the scientists, led by Oscar Schofield of Rutgers University, describe a multi-platform approach to ocean observation, where data is collected by a host of automated sources including glider robots that measure ocean characteristics continuously for weeks at a time and tourist vessels, ferries, and other "ships of opportunity" outfitted with chemical and biological sensors. The authors also encourage the deployment of oceanographic instruments on animals such as elephant seals and penguins to provide information on animal behavior and oceanographic conditions. Recent tagging of Adélie penguins nesting near Palmer Station has helped scientists understand the link between nutrient upwelling and penguin foraging.
"We're looking for ways to use our existing capabilities to obtain data," says Ducklow. "Our goal is to make things cheaper and get a lot of them out there. This will help to narrow down uncertainty about the effects of warming on the polar oceans in the coming decades to century."
The team says the WAP is an ideal location for monitoring the impacts of rapid climate change on marine ecosystems and could serve as a model observation system for marine ecosystems worldwide. The rapid climate change in this region is driving large-scale changes in the food web, impacting everything from phytoplankton—the foundation of the food web—to Antarctic krill, to apex predators such as penguins, whales, and seals.
"The comprehensive deployment of these observational systems will revolutionize our understanding of how marine ecosystems are responding to climate change everywhere, not just in Antarctica," says Ducklow. "With current observation methods, the data you collect, whether it's from land or from a research vessel, is limited to access by people. Where we are only getting dozens of measurements a year from data collected by people, you could get hundreds or thousands each day with the use of automated technologies."
This paper stems from work done as part of the National Science Foundation Office of Polar Program's Long-Term Ecological Research (LTER) project at Palmer Station, Antarctica. Hugh Ducklow is the principal investigator of the Palmer LTER. Besides Ducklow and Schofield, the paper's co-authors are Douglas Martinson, Columbia University's Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory; Michael Meredith, British Antarctic Survey; Mark Moline, California Polytechnic State University; and William Fraser, Polar Oceans Research Group, Sheridan, MT.
Reporters may contact email@example.com for full text of this paper: "How Do Polar Marine Ecosystems Respond to Rapid Climate Change?;" O. Schofield, H.W. Ducklow, D.G. Martinson, M.P. Meredith, M.A. Moline, W.R. Fraser; Science 18 June 2010 328: 1520-1523 [DOI: 10.1126/science.1185779].
The MBL is a leading international, independent, nonprofit institution dedicated to discovery and to improving the human condition through creative research and education in the biological, biomedical and environmental sciences. Founded in 1888 as the Marine Biological Laboratory, the MBL is the oldest private marine laboratory in the Americas. For more information, visit www.mbl.edu.
Gina Hebert | EurekAlert!
Successful calculation of human and natural influence on cloud formation
04.11.2016 | Goethe-Universität Frankfurt am Main
Invasive Insects Cost the World Billions Per Year
04.10.2016 | University of Adelaide
In recent years, lasers with ultrashort pulses (USP) down to the femtosecond range have become established on an industrial scale. They could advance some applications with the much-lauded “cold ablation” – if that meant they would then achieve more throughput. A new generation of process engineering that will address this issue in particular will be discussed at the “4th UKP Workshop – Ultrafast Laser Technology” in April 2017.
Even back in the 1990s, scientists were comparing materials processing with nanosecond, picosecond and femtosesecond pulses. The result was surprising:...
Have you ever wondered how you see the world? Vision is about photons of light, which are packets of energy, interacting with the atoms or molecules in what...
A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.
Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...
In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.
“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...
The Max Planck Institute for Physics (MPP) is opening up a new research field. A workshop from November 21 - 22, 2016 will mark the start of activities for an innovative axion experiment. Axions are still only purely hypothetical particles. Their detection could solve two fundamental problems in particle physics: What dark matter consists of and why it has not yet been possible to directly observe a CP violation for the strong interaction.
The “MADMAX” project is the MPP’s commitment to axion research. Axions are so far only a theoretical prediction and are difficult to detect: on the one hand,...
16.11.2016 | Event News
01.11.2016 | Event News
14.10.2016 | Event News
07.12.2016 | Health and Medicine
07.12.2016 | Life Sciences
07.12.2016 | Health and Medicine