In this project, the researchers processed and analyzed previously acquired seismic data from the POLENET-ANET array (2010-2011) to estimate variations in seismic shear-wave speed beneath the array. This investigation used a passive seismology method call ambient noise tomography, whereby repetitive seismic noise correlation functions were computed from records of Earth's ambient seismic noise field. The main results indicate a shallower Moho beneath Marie Byrd Land compared to previous studies in the region.
This award is funded under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (Public Law 111-5). The proposed project will investigate the coldest and driest parts of the Transantarctic Mountains (Ong Valley at Nimrod Glacier and Moraine Canyon at Amundsen Glacier) where the lack of running water and biological activity in the modern environment is thought to have preserved the landscape, essentially unchanged, for millions of years. Contrary to this common belief, it is hypothesized that the landscape does evolve, perhaps as fast as many surfaces in the Dry Valleys area where both loose soil and bedrock surfaces have been degrading at a rate of about 1-2 m/Myrs for the past several million years. The research team will rely on analysis of the both stable and radioactive cosmogenic isotopes that accumulate in near surface soil and bedrock. Collectively these measurements allow comparison of the long term landscape evolution to current processes and environmental drivers such as wind speed. The results of this work will improve understanding of the evolution of the Earth's surface and directly aid in evaluating imagery of Martian geomorphology. Continued reliance on students provides a broader impact to this proposed research and firmly grounds this effort in its educational mission.
This investigation will reconstruct past behavior of the East Antarctic Ice Sheet during periods of warmer-than-present climate, such as the Pliocene, in order to better project the likely response of Earth's largest ice sheet to anthropogenic warming. Containing the equivalent of ~55 m sea-level rise, the future evolution of the East Antarctic Ice Sheet has clear societal ramifications on a global scale as temperatures continue to rise. Therefore, determining ice-sheet sensitivity to climate on the scale predicted for the next two centuries is a matter of increasing urgency, particularly in light of evidence suggesting the East Antarctic Ice Sheet is more dynamic than previously thought. This research will provide a terrestrial geologic record of long-term ice-sheet behavior from sites immediately adjacent the East Antarctic Ice Sheet in the Transantarctic Mountains, with which the project will help ascertain how the ice sheet responded to past warm periods. The project will focus primarily on the Pliocene warm period, 5 to 3 million years ago, as this represents the closest analogue to 21st Century climate conditions.<br/><br/>The proposed research will investigate glacial deposits corresponding to the East Antarctic Ice Sheet in the central Transantarctic Mountains in order to expand the geologic record of past ice-sheet behavior. The overarching research objectives are to improve understanding of the East Antarctic Ice Sheet's configuration during periods of warmer-than-present climate, such as the Pliocene warm period, and to determine whether the ice sheet underwent significant volume changes or remained relatively stable in response to warming. To address these goals, the investigation will map and date glacial deposits preserved at mountain sites immediately adjacent the ice sheet. Specifically, we will: (i) employ multiple cosmogenic nuclides (10Be, 26Al, 21Ne) to establish more fully ice-thickness histories for the upper Shackleton and Beardmore Glaciers, where they exit the ice sheet; (ii) use this record to identify periods during which the East Antarctic Ice Sheet was at least as extensive as today; and (iii) use these data to assess long-term ice-sheet variability in East Antarctica, with particular emphasis on Pliocene warm episodes. This research will require Antarctic fieldwork, glacial-geologic mapping, and cosmogenic surface-exposure dating.
This award supports a project to find and date geologic evidence of past ice-marginal positions in the Pensacola Mountains, which border the Foundation Ice Stream at the head of the Weddell Sea embayment. The project will involve glacial geologic mapping and cosmogenic-nuclide surface exposure dating of glacially transported erratics. An ice-flow model will be used to link our exposure-dating results together in a glaciologically consistent way, and to relate them to regional LGM to Holocene elevation changes. A secondary focus of the project seeks to improve the effectiveness of exposure-dating methods in understanding ice sheet change. Changes in the location of the ice margin, and thus the exposure ages that record these changes, are controlled not only by regional ice sheet mass balance, but also by local effects on snow- and icefields immediately adjacent to the exposure-dating sites. This part of the project will combine glaciological observations near the present ice margin with targeted exposure- age sampling in an effort to better understand the processes controlling the ice margin location, and improve the interpretation of very recent exposure-age data as a record of latest Holocene to present ice sheet changes. The intellectual merit of the project is that it will provide direct geologic evidence of LGM-to-Holocene ice volume change in a region of Antarctica where no such evidence now exists. The broader impacts of the work involve both gathering information needed for accurate understanding of past and present global sea level change. Secondly, this project will help to develop and maintain the human and intellectual resources necessary for continued excellence in polar research and global change education, by linking experienced Antarctic researchers with early career scientists who seek to develop their expertise in both research and education. In addition, it brings together two early career scientists whose careers are focused at opposite ends of the research-education spectrum, thus facilitating better integration of research and education both in the careers of these scientists and in the outcome of this project. This award has field work in Antarctica.
Biological & Chemical Oceanography Data Management Office (BCO_DMO)
The project addressed fundamental questions regarding the role of nitrification (the conversion of ammonium to nitrate by a two-step process involving two different guilds of microorganisms: ammonia- and nitrite-oxidizers) in the Antarctic marine ecosystem. Specifically, the project evaluated the contribution of carbon fixation supported by energy derived from the oxidation of nitrogen compounds (chemoautotrophy) to the overall supply of organic carbon to the food web of the Southern Ocean. Additionally, the project aimed to determine the significance of the contribution of other sources of reduced nitrogen, specifically organic nitrogen and urea, to nitrification because these contributions may not be assessed by standard protocols.
<br><br>We quantified the oxidation rates of 15N supplied as ammonium, urea and nitrite, which allowed us to estimate the contribution of urea-derived N and complete nitrification (ammonia to nitrate, N-3 to N+5) to chemoautotrophy in Antarctic coastal waters. We compared these estimates to direct measurements of the incorporation of dissolved inorganic 14C into organic matter in the dark for an independent estimate of chemoautotrophy. We made measurements on samples taken from the major water masses: surface water (~10 m), winter water (35-174 m), circumpolar deep water (175-1000 m) and slope water (>1000 m); on a cruise surveying the continental shelf and slope west of the Antarctic Peninsula in the austral summer of 2018 (LMG18-01). Samples were also taken to measure the concentrations of nitrite, ammonia, urea and polyamines; for qPCR analysis of the abundance of relevant marker genes; and for studies of processes related to the core questions of the study. The project relied on collaboration with the Palmer LTER for ancillary data (bacterioplankton abundance and production, chlorophyll, physical and additional chemical variables). The synergistic activities of this project along with the LTER activities provides a unique opportunity to assess chemoautotrophy in context of the overall ecosystem's dynamics, including both primary and secondary production processes.
<br><br>This project resulted in the training of a postdoctoral researcher and provide undergraduate students opportunities to gain hand-on experience with research on microbial geochemistry. This project contributed substantially to understanding an important aspect of nitrogen cycling and bacterioplankton production in the study area. Both PIs participate fully in the education and outreach efforts of the Palmer LTER, including making highlights of the findings available for posting to the LTER project web site, posting material to web sites at their respective departments, and incorporating material from the study in lectures and seminars presented at their respective institutions.
The Earth's climate has changed through time and during the Eocene Epoch (56 to 34 million years ago) there was a transition from 'greenhouse' to 'icehouse' conditions. During the Eocene, a shift to cooler temperatures at high latitudes resulted in the inception of polar glaciation. This in turn affected the environment for living organisms. This project looks to uncover the interaction between biological, oceanographic, and climate systems for the Eocene in Antarctica using chemical analysis of fossil shark teeth collected during past expeditions. The combination of paleontological and geochemical analyses will provide insight to the past ecology and ocean conditions; climate models will be applied to test the role of tectonics, greenhouse gas concentration and ocean circulation on environmental change during this time period. The study contributes to understanding the interaction of increased atmospheric carbon dioxide and ocean circulation. This project also seeks to improve diversity, equity, and inclusion within the geosciences workforce with efforts targeted to undergraduate, graduate, postdoctoral, and early career faculty.<br/><br/>The research goal is to elucidate the processes leading from the Eocene greenhouse to Oligocene icehouse conditions. Previous explanations for this climate shift centers on Antarctica, where tectonic configurations influenced oceanic gateways, ocean circulation reduced heat transport, and/or greenhouse gas declines prompted glaciation. The team will reconstruct watermass, current, and climate fluctuations proximal to the Antarctic Peninsula using geochemical indicators (oxygen and neodymium isotope composition) from fossil shark teeth collected from Seymour Island. The approach builds on previous shark paleontological studies, incorporates geochemical analyses for environmental reconstruction (i.e., temperature gradients and ocean circulation), and tests hypotheses on Earth System dynamics using novel global climate model simulations with geochemical tracers. This project will advance global climate modeling capabilities with experiments that consider Eocene tectonic configuration within isotope-enabled climate model simulations. A comparison of geochemical results from Eocene climate simulations and empirical records of shark teeth will reveal processes and mechanisms central to the Eocene Antarctic climatic shift.<br/><br/>This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.
Notothenioid fishes live in the world's coldest marine waters surrounding Antarctica and have evolved strategies to avoid freezing. Past studies have shown that most Antarctic notothenioids produce special antifreeze proteins that prevent the growth of ice crystals that enter the body. While these proteins help prevent individuals from being killed by growing ice crystals, it is unclear how these fish avoid the accumulation of these small ice crystals inside their tissues over time. This project will observe how ice crystal accumulation relates to the harshness of a fish's environment within different habitats of McMurdo Sound, Antarctica. The researchers collected fishes and ocean observations at different field sites that cover a range of habitat severity in terms of temperature and iciness. The researchers installed an underwater ocean observatory near McMurdo Station (The McMurdo Oceanographic Observatory, MOO; Nov. 2017 - Nov. 2019) which included a conductivity-temperature-depth sensor (CTD), a high-definition video/still image camera and a research quality hydrophone. The observatory produced oceanographic data, time-lapse images of the immediate environs, and a high-resolution hydroacoustic dataset from the entire deployment. Seawater temperature data loggers were also deployed at other shallow, nearshore sites around McMurdo Sound to provide context and assessment of environmental conditions experienced by the fishes.
The Siple Coast in West Antarctica has undergone significant glacier changes over the last millenium. Several ice streams--rapidly moving streams of ice bordered by slow-moving ice--exist in this region that feeds into the Ross Ice Shelf. A long-term slowdown of Whillans Ice Stream appears to be occurring, and this is affecting the zone between the Whillans and Mercer Ice Streams. However, the consistency of this slowdown and resulting changes to the shear margin between the two ice streams are unknown. Shear zone stability represents a potentially critical control on mass balance of ice sheets, especially in regions of fast ice flow where basal shear stress is minimal. This project is therefore focused on understanding the spatial and temporal change of ice flow kinematics, shear margin structure, and shear margin location between Whillans and Mercer Ice Streams. A collateral benefit of and driver for this as a RAPID project is to test a method for assessing where crevassing will develop in this zone of steep velocity gradients. Such a method may benefit not only near-term field-project planning in the 2018-19 field season, but also planning for future fieldwork and traverses.<br/><br/>The team will use velocity estimates derived from available remote sensing datasets to determine transient velocity patterns and shifts in the shear-zone location over the last 20 years. This velocity time series will be incorporated into a large-scale ice-sheet model to estimate ice-sheet susceptibility to changing boundary conditions over the next century based on likely regional ice-flux scenarios. This approach is an extension of recent work conducted by the team that shows promise for predicting areas of changing high strain rates indicative of an active glacier shear margin. The ultimate objectives are to characterize the flow field of merging ice streams over time and investigate lateral boundary migration. This will provide a better understanding of shear-margin control on ice-shelf and up-glacier stability.<br/><br/>This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.
The transition of young from parental care to independence is a critical stage in the life of many animals. Surviving this stage can be especially challenging for polar mammals where the extreme cold requires extra energy to keep warm, rather than using the majority of energy for growth, development and physical activities. Young Weddell seals (Leptonychotes weddellii) have only weeks to develop the capabilities to survive both on top of the sea ice and within the -1.9°C seawater where they can forage for food. The project seeks to better understand how Weddell seal pups rapidly develop (within weeks) the capacity to transition between these two extreme environments (that differ greatly in their abilities to conduct heat) and how they budget their energy during the transition. Though the biology and physiology of adult Weddell seals is well studied, the energetic and physiological strategies of pups during development is still unclear. Understanding factors that may affect survival at critical life history events is essential for better understanding factors that might affect marine mammal populations. Weddell seals are the southernmost breeding mammal and are easily recognizable as quintessential Antarctic seals. Determining potential vulnerabilities at critical life stages to change in the Antarctic environment will facilitate the researchers' ability to not only gain public interest but also communicate how research is revealing ways in which changes are occurring at the poles and how these changes may affect polar ecosystems. By collaborating with the Marine Mammal Center, the project will directly reach the public, through curricular educational materials and public outreach that will impact over 100,000 visitors annually.<br/><br/>To elucidate the physiological strategies that facilitate the survival of Weddell seal pups from birth to independence, the proposed study examines the development of their thermoregulation and diving capability. To achieve this, the project will determine the mechanisms that Weddell seal pups use to maintain a stable, warm body temperature in air and in water and then examine the development of diving capability as the animals prepare for independent foraging. The researchers will take a fully integrative approach- making assessments from proteins to tissues to the whole-animal level- when investigating both these objectives. To assess the development of thermoregulatory capability, researchers will quantify body insulation, resting metabolic rates in air and in water, muscle thermogenesis (shivering), and body surface temperatures in the field. The project will also assess the development of dive capability by quantifying oxygen storage capacities and measuring early dive behavior. To identify possible cellular mechanisms for how Weddell seals navigate this trade-off during development, the program will quantify several key developmental regulators of increased hypoxic capacity (HIF, VEGF and EPO) using qPCR, as well as follow the proteomic changes of adipose and muscle tissue, which will include abundance changes of metabolic, antioxidant, cytoskeletal, and Ca2+-regulating proteins. The study of the physiological development leading up to the transition to independence in pinnipeds will help researchers better predict the effects of climate change on the distribution and abundance of this species and how this will affect other trophic levels. Environmental changes that alter habitat suitability have been shown to decrease population health, specifically because of declines in juvenile survival.
The East Antarctic Ice Sheet holds the largest volume of freshwater on the planet, in total enough to raise sea level by almost two hundred feet. Even minor adjustments in the volume of ice stored have major implications for coastlines and climates around the world. The question motivating this project is how did the ice grow to cover the continent over thirty million years ago when Antarctica changed from a warmer environment to an ice-covered southern continent? The seafloor of Prydz Bay, a major drainage basin of the East Antarctic Ice Sheet (EAIS), has been drilled previously to recover sediments dating from millions of years prior to and across the time when inception of continental ice sheets occurred in Antarctica. The last remnants of plant material found as 'biomarkers' in the ocean sediments record the chemical signatures of rain and snowfall that fed the plants and later the expanding glaciers. Sediment carried by glaciers was also deposited on the seafloor and can be analyzed to discover how glaciers flowed across the landscape. Here, the researchers will identify precipitation changes that result from, and drive, ice sheet growth. This study will gather data and further analyze samples from the seafloor sediment archives of the International Ocean Discovery Program's (IODP) core repositories. Ultimately these findings can help inform temperature-precipitation-ice linkages within climate and ice sheet models. The project will support the training of three female, early career scientists (PhD & MS students, and research technician) and both PIs and the PhD student will continue their engagement with broadening participation efforts (e.g., Women in Science and Engineering Program; local chapters of Society for the advancement of Native Americans and Chicanos in Science and other access programs) to recruit undergraduate student participants from underrepresented minorities at both campuses and from local community colleges. Antarctic earth science education materials will be assisted by professional illustrations to be open access and used in public education and communication efforts to engage local communities in Los Angeles CA and Columbia SC. <br/><br/>The researchers at the University of Southern California and the University of South Carolina will together study the penultimate moment of the early Cenozoic greenhouse climate state: the ~4 million years of global cooling that culminated in the Eocene/Oligocene transition (~34 Ma). Significant gaps remain in the understanding of the conditions that preceded ice expansion on Antarctica. In particular, the supply of raw material for ice sheets (i.e., moisture) and the timing, frequency, and duration of precursor glaciations is poorly constrained. This collaborative proposal combines organic and inorganic proxies to examine how Antarctic hydroclimate changed during the greenhouse to icehouse transition. The central hypothesis is that the hydrological cycle weakened as cooling proceeded. Plant-wax hydrogen and carbon isotopes (hydroclimate proxies) and Hf-Nd isotopes of lithogenous and hydrogenous sediments (mechanical weathering proxies) respond strongly and rapidly to precipitation and glacial advance. This detailed and sensitive combined approach will test whether there were hidden glaciations (and/or warm events) that punctuated the pre-icehouse interval. Studies will be conducted on Prydz Bay marine sediment cores in a depositional area for products of weathering and erosion that were (and are) transported through Lambert Graben from the center of Antarctica. The project will yield proxy information about the presence of plants and the hydroclimate of Antarctica and the timing of glacial advance, and is expected to show drying associated with cooling and ice-sheet growth. The dual approach will untangle climate signals from changes in fluvial versus glacial erosion of plant biomarkers. This proposal is potentially transformative because the combination of organic and inorganic proxies can reveal rapid transitions in aridity and glacial expansion, that may have been missed in slower-response proxies and more distal archives. The research is significant as hydroclimate seems to be a key player in the temperature-cryosphere hysteresis.<br/><br/>This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.
The project will characterize the functional, taxonomic, biotic and abiotic drivers of soil ecosystems in the Trans Antarctic Mountains (one of the most remote and harsh terrestrial landscapes on the planet). The work will utilize new high-throughput DNA and RNA sequencing technologies to identify members of the microbial communities and determine if the microbial community structures are independent of local environmental heterogeneities. In addition the project will determine if microbial diversity and function are correlated with time since the last glacial maximum (LGM). The expected results will greatly contribute to our knowledge regarding rates of microbial succession and help define the some of the limits to life and life-maintaining processes on Earth.<br/><br/>The project will analyze genomes and RNA derived from these genomes to describe the relationships between biodiversity and ecosystem functioning from soils above and below LGM elevations and to correlate these with the environmental drivers associated with their development during the last ~18,000 years. The team will identify the taxonomic diversity and the functional genetic composition within a broad suite of soil biota and examine their patterns of assembly and distribution within the framework of their geological legacies. The project will mentor participants from undergraduate students to postdoctoral researchers and prepare them to effectively engage in research to meet their career aspirations. The project will contribute to ongoing public education efforts through relationships with K-12 teachers and administrators- to include University-Public School partnerships. Less formal activities include public lecture series and weblogs aimed at providing information on Antarctic polar desert ecosystems to the general public. Targeted classrooms near each PI's institution will participate in online, real-time discussions about current topics in Antarctic ecosystems research.
Our project is focused on better resolving the three-dimensional Antarctic mantle structure to further understanding of continental tectonics. To accomplish this, we are utilizing a full-waveform tomographic inversion technique that incorporates long-period ambient noise data and which has been shown to more accurately resolve structure than traditional tomographic approaches. The new models have been developed using the Alabama supercomputer facilities in conjunction with software developed at The University of Rhode Island. Our new tomographic results highlight the lithospheric structure beneath the Wilkes and Aurora Subglacial Basins in East Antarctica, where previous rifting episodes and mid-lithospheric discontinuities are being explored. In West Antarctica, the work is elucidating the easternmost extent of the West Antarctic Rift System as well as rifted structure and possible compositional variations within the Weddell Sea. We are also highlighting regions of Antarctica where tomographic resolution is still lacking and where future deployments are needed to improve resolution.
This project investigates a rapidly moving section of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet known as the Whillans Ice Stream. Ice streams and outlet glaciers are the major pathways for ice discharge from ice sheets into the ocean. Consequently, understanding ice stream dynamics, specifically the processes controlling the frictional resistance of ice sliding on sediments at its base, is essential for predictive modeling of how Earth's ice sheets will respond to a changing climate. Rather than flowing smoothly, Whillans Ice Stream advances in stick-slip cycles: brief periods of rapid sliding, equivalent to magnitude 7 earthquakes, alternating with much longer periods of repose. The PIs will perform simulations of these stick-slip cycles using computer codes originally developed for modeling tectonic earthquakes. By matching observed ice motions, the PIs will constrain the range of frictional processes acting at the base of the ice stream. An additional focus of the project is on brittle fracture processes in ice, expressed through seismic waves radiated by faulting and/or crevassing episodes that accompany the large-scale sliding events. An understanding of ice fracture provides a basis for assessing the susceptibility of ice shelves to rifting and catastrophic disintegration. Project results will be incorporated into outreach activities (from elementary school to community college events) as well as a polar science class for the California State Summer School for Mathematics and Science (COSMOS) program for high school students.<br/><br/>Simulations of the stick-slip cycle will employ 3D dynamic rupture models that simultaneously solve for the seismic wavefield and rupture process, consistent with elastodynamic material response and friction laws on the ice stream bed. Stresses and frictional properties will be varied to achieve consistency with surface GPS and broadband seismic data as well as borehole seismograms from the WISSARD project. The results will be interpreted using laboratory till friction experiments, which link velocity-weakening/strengthening behavior to temperature and water content, and to related experiments quantifying basal drag from ice flow over rough beds. The source mechanism of seismicity accompanying the slip events (shear faulting versus crevassing) will be determined using 3D waveform modeling in conjunction with mechanical models of the seismic source processes. This proposal does not require fieldwork in the Antarctic.
This award supports a project to undertake a systematic examination of the effects of soluble impurities, particularly sulfuric acid, on the creep of polycrystalline ice as function of temperature, strain rate and impurity concentration. The working hypothesis is that soluble impurities will increase the flow rate of polycrystalline ice compared to high-purity ice, that this effect will be temperature dependent and that the impurities by affecting the re-crystallization and grain growth will change the fabric of the ice. Both H2SO4-doped and high-purity poly-crystalline ice will be produced by freezing sheets of ice, breaking them up, sieving the ice particles and then sintering them in a mold into fine-grained cylindrical specimens with at least ten grains across their diameter. The resulting microstructures (dislocation structure, grain size and shape, grain boundary character and micro-structural location of the acid) will be characterized using a variety of techniques including: optical microscopy, scanning electron microscopy, including secondary electron imaging, electron backscattered patterns, energy dispersive X-ray spectroscopy, electron channeling contrast imaging, and X-ray topography. The creep of both the H2SO4-doped and the high-purity polycrystalline ice will be undertaken at a range of temperatures and stresses. The ice?s response to the creep deformation (grain boundary sliding, dislocation motion, re-crystallization, grain boundary migration, impurity redistribution) will be studied using a combination of methods. The creep behavior will be modeled and related to the microstructure. Of particular interest is how impurities affect the activation energy for creep. The intellectual merit of the work is that it will lead to a better understanding of glacier ice and will enable glaciologists to model the influence of impurities on the flow and fabric development in polycrystalline ice. The broader impacts of the project include the knowledge that will be gained of the effects of impurities on the flow of ice which will allow paleoclimatologists to better interpret ice core data and will allow scientists developing predictive models to better address the flow of ice sheets under various climate change scenarios. The project will also lead to the education and training of a Ph.D. student, several undergraduates and some high school students. Results from the research will be published in refereed journals. Several undergraduates, typically two per year, will also perform the work. Dartmouth aggressively courts minority students at all degree levels, and we will seek women or minority group undergraduates for this project. The undergraduates will be supported by Dartmouth?s nationally-honored Women In Science Project or by REU funding. The undergraduates? research will integrate closely with the Ph.D. student?s studies. Hanover High School students will also be involved in the project and develop an educational kit to introduce students to the properties of ice. Results from the research will be published in refereed journals and presented at conferences.
This project will involve examination of Glossopteridales, fossil plants from Upper Permian deposits, in samples from the central Transantarctic Mountains and Southern Victoria Land, Antarctica. The glossopterids are an important fossil group because they are possible ancestors to the flowering plants. Permian sedimentary rocks (295-270 Ma before present) are important because they record a time of rapid biotic change, as the Late Paleozoic Age ended and the Mesozoic greenhouse environment began. The proposed research will rely entirely on specimens collected during recent field excursions to the central Transantarctic Mountains (CTM; 2010?2011) and southern Victoria Land (SVL; 2012?2013). Only a few of the specimens have been studied, but already have yielded anatomically well-preserved glossopterids with a complete pollen cone, which has never been found before. Additionally, several seed-bearing structures, which have never before been observed in Antarctica, have been found in both CTM and SVL. The project will allow comparison of whole-plant fossil glossopterids from the CTM with other paleo-latitudes, and will document the floral diversity within and between two depositional basins (CTM & SVL) during a time of global change, with the overall goal of linking environmental changes with fossil morphology. <br/><br/>Broader impacts: <br/>The Broader Impacts of this project will include mentoring undergraduates in research projects, at an institution with a substantial minority enrollment. Public outreach will focus on involving middle/high school students through the ?Expanding Your Horizons? programs in Kansas and Missouri, as well as interactive presentations at schools in the Kansas City Area. The lead PI is an early-career scientist at an institution that serves minorities.
A profound transformation in ecosystem structure and function is occurring in coastal waters of the western Weddell Sea, with the collapse of the Larsen B ice shelf. This transformation appears to be yielding a redistribution of energy flow between chemoautotrophic and photosynthetic production, and to be causing the rapid demise of the extraordinary seep ecosystem discovered beneath the ice shelf. This event provides an ideal opportunity to examine fundamental aspects of ecosystem transition associated with climate change. We propose to test the following hypotheses to elucidate the transformations occurring in marine ecosystems as a consequence of the Larsen B collapse: (1) The biogeographic isolation and sub-ice shelf setting of the Larsen B seep has led to novel habitat characteristics, chemoautotrophically dependent taxa and functional adaptations. (2) Benthic communities beneath the former Larsen B ice shelf are fundamentally different from assemblages at similar depths in the Weddell sea-ice zone, and resemble oligotrophic deep-sea communities. Larsen B assemblages are undergoing rapid change. (3) The previously dark, oligotrophic waters of the Larsen B embayment now support a thriving phototrophic community, with production rates and phytoplankton composition similar to other productive areas of the Weddell Sea. To document rapid changes occurring in the Larsen B ecosystem, we will use a remotely operated vehicle, shipboard samplers, and moored sediment traps. We will characterize microbial, macrofaunal and megafaunal components of the seep community; evaluate patterns of surface productivity, export flux, and benthic faunal composition in areas previously covered by the ice shelf, and compare these areas to the open sea-ice zone. These changes will be placed within the geological, glaciological and climatological context that led to ice-shelf retreat, through companion research projects funded in concert with this effort. Together these projects will help predict the likely consequences of ice-shelf collapse to marine ecosystems in other regions of Antarctica vulnerable to climate change. The research features international collaborators from Argentina, Belgium, Canada, Germany, Spain and the United Kingdom. The broader impacts include participation of a science writer; broadcast of science segments by members of the Jim Lehrer News Hour (Public Broadcasting System); material for summer courses in environmental change; mentoring of graduate students and postdoctoral fellows; and showcasing scientific activities and findings to students and public through podcasts.
Non-Technical Project Description<br/><br/>This research will study Ultralow Velocity Zones (ULVZs), located in Earth's interior on top of the boundary between the Earth's solid mantle and its fluid outer core. The ULVZs are so named because seismic waves passing through the Earth slow down dramatically when they encounter these zones. While ULVZs are thought to be related to melting processes, there is growing controversy regarding their origin and the role they play in the thermal and chemical evolution of our planet. The ULVZs may include the largest magma chambers in Earth's interior. Currently, researchers have only searched 40% of Earth's core-mantle boundary for the ULVZs and this project would use existing seismic data to map an unexplored area under Antarctica and interpret the nature of the ULVZs. This project will support two graduate students and create opportunities for undergraduate involvement. Project results will be published in scientific journals, presented at science fairs, and communicated through the researchers' websites. The research team will also take part in the NSF-sponsored PolarTREC (Teachers and Researchers Exploring and Collaborating) program to communicate the science to students and the broader community. <br/><br/><br/>Technical Project Description<br/><br/>The National Research Council has highlighted high-resolution imaging of core-mantle boundary (CMB) structure as a high-priority, emerging research opportunity in the Earth Sciences since anomalies along the CMB likely play a critical role in the thermal and chemical evolution of our planet. Of particular interest are ultralow velocity zones (ULVZs), thin laterally-varying boundary layers associated with dramatic seismic velocity decreases and increases in density that are seen just above the CMB. Many questions exist regarding the origin of ULVZs, but incomplete seismic sampling of the lowermost mantle has limited our ability to map global ULVZ structure in detail. Using recently collected data from the Transantarctic Mountains Northern Network (TAMNNET) in Antarctica, this project will use core-reflected seismic phases (ScP, PcP, and ScS) to investigate ULVZ presence/absence along previously unexplored sections of the CMB. The data sampling includes the southern boundary of the Pacific Large Low Shear Velocity Province (LLSVP), a dominant feature in global shear wave tomography models, and will allow the researchers to examine a possible connection between ULVZs and LLSVPs. The main objectives of the project are to: 1) use TAMNNET data to document ULVZ presence/absence in previously unexplored regions of the lowermost mantle with array-based approaches; 2) model the data with 1- and 2.5-D wave propagation tools to obtain ULVZ properties and to assess trade-offs among the models; 3) use high quality events to augment the densely-spaced TAMNNET data with that from the more geographically-distributed, open-access Antarctic stations to increase CMB coverage with single-station analyses; and 4) explore the implications of ULVZ solution models for origin, present-day dynamics, and evolution, including their connection to other deep mantle structures, like LLSVPs.<br/><br/>The project aims to provide new constraints on ULVZs, including their potential connection to LLSVPs, and thus relates to other seismic and geodynamic investigations focused on processes within the Earth?s interior. This project will promote a new research collaboration between The University of Alabama (UA) and Arizona State University (ASU), each of which brings specific strengths to the initiative.
Accurate parameterizations of the air-sea fluxes of CO2 into the Southern Ocean, in particular at high wind velocity, are needed to better assess how projections of global climate warming in a windier world could affect the ocean carbon uptake, and alter the ocean heat budget at high latitudes. <br/><br/>Air-sea fluxes of momentum, sensible and latent heat (water vapor) and carbon dioxide (CO2) are to be measured continuously underway on cruises using micrometeorological eddy covariance techniques adapted to ship-board use. The measured gas transfer velocity (K) is then to be related to other parameters known to affect air-sea-fluxes.<br/><br/>A stated goal of this work is the collection of a set of direct air-sea flux measurements at high wind speeds, conditions where parameterization of the relationship of gas exchange to wind-speed remains contentious. The studies will be carried out at sites in the Southern Ocean using the USAP RV Nathaniel B Palmer as measurment platform. Co-located pCO2 data, to be used in the overall analysis and enabling internal consistency checks, are being collected from existing underway systems aboard the USAP research vessel under other NSF awards.
Glacier ice loss from Antarctica has the potential to lead to a significant rise in global sea level. One line of evidence for accelerated glacier ice loss has been an increase in the rate at which the land has been rising across the Antarctic Peninsula as measured by GPS receivers. However, GPS observations of uplift are limited to the last two decades. One goal of this study is to determine how these newly observed rates of uplift compare to average rates of uplift across the Antarctic Peninsula over a longer time interval. Researchers reconstructed past sea levels using the age and elevation of ancient beaches now stranded above sea level on the low-lying coastal hills of the Antarctica Peninsula and determined the rate of uplift over the last 5,000 years. The researchers analyzed the structure of the beaches using ground-penetrating radar and the characteristics of beach sediments to understand how sea-level rise and past climate changes are recorded in beach deposits. We found that unlike most views of how sea level changed across Antarctica over the last 5,000 years, its history is complex with periods of increasing rates of sea-level fall as well as short periods of potential sea-level rise. We attribute these oscillations in the nature of sea-level change across the Antarctic Peninsula to changes in the ice sheet over the last 5,000 years. These changes in sea level also suggest our understanding of the Earth structure beneath the Antarctic Peninsula need to be revised. The beach deposits themselves also record periods of climate change as reflected in the size and shape of their cobbles. This project has lead to the training of five graduate students, three undergraduate students, and outreach talks to k-12 schools in three communities.
Sediments deposited by the Antarctic ice sheet are an archive of its history with time and help geologists to determine how the remote interior of the ice sheet has changed over the past several hundred thousand years. This project will focus on the formation and dynamics of moraines (accumulations of dirt and rocks that are incorporated in the glacier surface or have been pushed along by the glacier as it moves) near the blue ice area of Mt. Achernar in the central Transantarctic Mountains in Antarctica.. The study will improve basic understanding of the formation of these moraines. Fieldwork at the site will focus on imaging the internal structure of the moraine to determine the processes by which it, and others like it, form over time. Additional analyses will include measurements of ice flow and collection of rock samples to determine the timing of debris deposition and the changes in the sources of sediments from deep within the Antarctic continent. The project will provide both graduate and undergraduate students training in paleoclimate studies, geology, and numerical modeling approaches. The broader impacts of the proposed work include hands on training in the Earth Sciences for graduate and undergraduate students, collaboration with colleagues in New Zealand and Sweden to provide an international research experience for students from the US, and three educational modules to be delivered by student researchers regarding Antarctica's role in global environments. The research is societally relevant and multidisciplinary and the topics are ideal for sharing with the public. All research findings will be made publicly available to others via timely publication in high-impact, peer-reviewed journals and all data will be submitted to the National Snow and Ice Data Center, and excess samples will be provided to the U.S. Polar Rock Repository.<br/><br/>Direct observations of ice sheet history from the margins of Antarctica's polar plateau are essential for testing numerical ice sheet models, and the laterally extensive, blue-ice moraines of the Mt. Achernar Moraine complex in the central Transantarctic Mountains contain a unique and nearly untapped direct, quasi-continuous record of ice sheet change over multiple glacial cycles. The project objectives include improved understanding of processes and rates of blue ice moraine formation, as well as identifying the topographic, glaciological, and climatic controls on their evolution. Data to be collected with fieldwork in Antarctica include: imaging of internal ice structure with ground-penetrating radar, measurement of ice flow velocity and direction with a global positioning system (GPS) array, analysis of debris concentration and composition in glacier ice, state-of-the-art cosmogenic multi-nuclide analyses to determine exposure ages of moraine debris, mapping of trimlines and provenance analysis. Numerical model simulations, constrained by field data, will be used to evaluate the factors influencing changes in glacier flow that potentially impact the accumulation of the moraine debris. All together, the new data and modeling efforts will improve conceptual models of blue ice moraine formation, and thereby make them a more valuable proxy for developing a better understanding of the history of the ice sheet.
Scientists established more than 30 years ago that the climate-related variability of carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere over Earth’s ice-age cycles was regulated by the ocean. Hypotheses to explain how the ocean that regulates atmospheric carbon dioxide have long been debated, but they have proven to be difficult to test. This project was designed test one leading hypothesis, specifically that the ocean experienced greater density stratification during the ice ages. That is, with greater stratification during the ice ages and the slower replacement of deep water by cold dense water formed near the poles, the deep ocean would have held more carbon dioxide, which is produced by biological respiration of the organic carbon that constantly rains to the abyss in the form of dead organisms and organic debris that sink from the sunlit surface ocean. To test this hypothesis, the degree of ocean stratification during the last ice age and the rate of deep-water replacement was to be constrained by comparing the radiocarbon ages of organisms that grew in the surface ocean and at the sea floor within a critical region around Antarctica, where most of the replacement of deep waters occurs. Completing this work was expected to contribute toward improved models of future climate change. Climate scientists rely on models to estimate the amount of fossil fuel carbon dioxide that will be absorbed by the ocean in the future. Currently the ocean absorbs about 25% of the carbon dioxide produced by burning fossil fuels. Most of this carbon is absorbed in the Southern Ocean (the region around Antarctica). How this will change in the future is poorly known. Models have difficulty representing physical conditions in the Southern Ocean accurately, thereby adding substantial uncertainty to projections of future ocean uptake of carbon dioxide. Results of the proposed study will provide a benchmark to test the ability of models to simulate ocean processes under climate conditions distinctly different from those that occur today, ultimately leading to improvement of the models and to more reliable projections of future absorption of carbon dioxide by the ocean.
The project added a research component to an existing scientific expedition to the Southern Ocean, in the region between the Ross Sea and New Zealand, that collected sediment cores at locations down the northern flank of the Pacific-Antarctic Ridge at approximately 170°W. The goal was to collect sediments at each location deposited since early in the peak of the last ice age. This region is unusual in the Southern Ocean in that sediments deposited during the last ice age contain foraminifera, tiny organisms with calcium carbonate shells, in much greater abundance than in other regions of the Southern Ocean. Foraminifera are widely used as an archive of several geochemical tracers of past ocean conditions. We proposed to compare the radiocarbon age of foraminifera that inhabited the surface ocean with the age of contemporary specimens that grew on the seabed. The difference in age between surface and deep-swelling organisms would have been used to discriminate between two proposed mechanisms of deep water renewal during the ice age: formation in coastal polynyas around the edge of Antarctica, much as occurs today, versus formation by open-ocean convection in deep-water regions far from the continent. If the latter mechanism prevails, then it was expected that surface and deep-dwelling foraminifera would exhibit similar radiocarbon ages. In the case of dominance of deep-water formation in coastal polynyas, one expects to find very different radiocarbon ages in the two populations of foraminifera. In the extreme case of greater ocean stratification during the last ice age, one even expects the surface dwellers to appear to be older than contemporary bottom dwellers because the targeted core sites lie directly under the region where the oldest deep waters outcrop at the surface following their long circuitous transit through the deep ocean. The primary objective of the proposed work was to reconstruct the water mass age structure of the Southern Ocean during the last ice age, which, in turn, is a primary factor that controls the amount of carbon dioxide stored in the deep sea. In addition, the presence of foraminifera in the cores to be recovered provides a valuable resource for many other paleoceanographic applications, such as: 1) the application of nitrogen isotopes to constrain the level of nutrient utilization in the Southern Ocean and, thus, the efficiency of the ocean’s biological pump, 2) the application of neodymium isotopes to constrain the transport history of deep water masses, 3) the application of boron isotopes and boron/calcium ratios to constrain the pH and inorganic carbon system parameters of ice-age seawater, and 4) the exploitation of metal/calcium ratios in foraminifera to reconstruct the temperature (Mg/Ca) and nutrient content (Cd/Ca) of deep waters during the last ice age at a location near their source near Antarctica.
Unfortunately, the cores were shipped to the core repository in a horizontal orientation and there was sufficient distortion of the sediment that the radiocarbon ages of benthic foraminifera were uninterpretable. Therefore, we report only the radiocarbon dates for planktonic foraminifera as well as the total counts of elemental relative abundance from X-ray Fluorescence analysis of the cores. In addition, we used the expedition as an opportunity to collect water samples from which dissolved concentrations of long-lived isotope of thorium and protactinium were determined. Results from those analyses showed that lateral transport by isopycnal mixing dominates the supply of Pa to the Southern Ocean. We have also developed a new algorithm to correct for supply of Th by isopycnal mixing and thereby derive estimates of dust flux to the Southern Ocean.
In Antarctica, millions of years of freezing have led to the development of hundreds of meters of thick permafrost (i.e., frozen ground). Recent research demonstrated that this slow freezing has trapped and concentrated water into local and regional briny aquifers, many times more salty than seawater. Because salt depresses the freezing point of water, these saline brines are able to persist as liquid water at temperatures well below the normal freezing point of freshwater. Such unusual groundwater systems may support microbial life, supply nutrients to coastal ocean and ice-covered lakes, and influence motion of glaciers. These briny aquifers also represent potential terrestrial analogs for deep life habitats on other planets, such as Mars, and provide a testing ground for the search for extraterrestrial water. Whereas much effort has been invested in understanding the physics, chemistry, and biology of surface and near-surface waters in cold polar regions, it has been comparably difficult to investigate deep subsurface aquifers in such settings. Airborne ElectroMagnetics (AEM) subsurface imaging provides an efficient way for mapping salty groundwater. An international collaboration with the University of Aarhus in Denmark will enable knowledge and skill transfer in AEM techniques that will enhance US polar research capabilities and provide US undergraduates and graduate students with unique training experiences. This project will survey over 1000 km2 of ocean and land near McMurdo Station in Antarctica, and will reveal if cold polar deserts hide a subsurface pool of liquid water. This will have significant implications for understanding cold polar glaciers, ice-covered lakes, frozen ground, and polar microbiology as well as for predictions of their response to future change. Improvements in permafrost mapping techniques and understanding of permafrost and of underlying groundwaters will benefit human use of high polar regions in the Antarctic and the Arctic.<br/><br/>The project will provide the first integrative system-scale overview of subsurface water distribution and hydrological connectivity in a partly ice-free coastal region of Antarctica, the McMurdo Dry Valleys. Liquid water is relatively scarce in this environment but plays an outsized role by influencing, and integrating, biological, biogeochemical, glaciological, and geological processes. Whereas surface hydrology and its role in ecosystem processes has been thoroughly studied over the last several decades, it has been difficult to map out and characterize subsurface water reservoirs and to understand their interactions with regional lakes, glaciers, and coastal waters. The proposed project builds on the "proof-of-concept" use of AEM technology in 2011. Improvements in sensor and data processing capabilities will result in about double the depth of penetration of the subsurface during the new data collection when compared to the 2011 proof-of-concept survey, which reached depths of 300-400m. The first field season will focus on collecting deep soundings with a ground-based system in key locations where: (i) independent constraints on subsurface structure exist from past drilling projects, and (ii) the 2011 resistivity dataset indicates the need for deeper penetration and high signal-to-noise ratios achievable only with a ground-based system. The regional airborne survey will take place during the second field season and will yield subsurface electrical resistivity data from across several valleys of different sizes and different ice cover fractions.
Abstract for the general public:<br/><br/>The margins of the Antarctic ice sheet have advanced and retreated repeatedly over the past few million years. Melting ice from the last retreat, from 19,000 to 9,000 years ago, raised sea levels by 8 meters or more, but the extents of previous retreats are less well known. The main goal of this project is to understand how Antarctic ice retreats: fast or slow, stepped or steady, and which parts of the ice sheet are most prone to retreat. Antarctica loses ice by two main processes: melting of the underside of floating ice shelves and calving of icebergs. Icebergs themselves are ephemeral, but they carry mineral grains and rock fragments that have been scoured from Antarctic bedrock. As the icebergs drift and melt, this 'iceberg-rafted debris' falls to the sea-bed and is steadily buried in marine sediments to form a record of iceberg activity and ice sheet retreat. The investigators will read this record of iceberg-rafted debris to find when and where Antarctic ice destabilized in the past. This information can help to predict how Antarctic ice will behave in a warming climate. <br/><br/>The study area is the Weddell Sea embayment, in the Atlantic sector of Antarctica. Principal sources of icebergs are the nearby Antarctic Peninsula and Weddell Sea embayment, where ice streams drain about a quarter of Antarctic ice. The provenance of the iceberg-rafted debris (IRD), and the icebergs that carried it, will be found by matching the geochemical fingerprint (such as characteristic argon isotope ages) of individual mineral grains in the IRD to that of the corresponding source area. In more detail, the project will: <br/><br/>1. Define the geochemical fingerprints of the source areas of the glacially-eroded material using samples from each major ice stream entering the Weddell Sea. Existing data indicates that the hinterland of the Weddell embayment is made up of geochemically distinguishable source areas, making it possible to apply geochemical provenance techniques to determine the origin of Antarctica icebergs. Few samples of onshore tills are available from this area, so this project includes fieldwork to collect till samples to characterize detritus supplied by the Recovery and Foundation ice streams. <br/><br/>2. Document the stratigraphic changes in provenance of iceberg-rafted debris (IRD) and glacially-eroded material in two deep water sediment cores in the NW Weddell Sea. Icebergs calved from ice streams in the embayment are carried by the Weddell Gyre and deposit IRD as they pass over the core sites. The provenance information identifies which groups of ice streams were actively eroding and exporting detritus to the ocean (via iceberg rafting and bottom currents), and the stratigraphy of the cores shows the relative sequence of ice stream activity through time. A further dimension is added by determining the time lag between fine sediment erosion and deposition, using a new method of uranium-series isotope measurements in fine grained material. <br/><br/>Technical abstract:<br/><br/> The behavior of the Antarctic ice sheets and ice streams is a critical topic for climate change and future sea level rise. The goal of this proposal is to constrain ice sheet response to changing climate in the Weddell Sea during the three most recent glacial terminations, as analogues for potential future warming. The project will also examine possible contributions to Meltwater Pulse 1A, and test the relative stability of the ice streams draining East and West Antarctica. Much of the West Antarctic ice may have melted during the Eemian (130 to 114 Ka), so it may be an analogue for predicting future ice drawdown over the coming centuries. <br/><br/>Geochemical provenance fingerprinting of glacially eroded detritus provides a novel way to reconstruct the location and relative timing of glacial retreat during these terminations in the Weddell Sea embayment. The two major objectives of the project are to: <br/><br/>1. Define the provenance source areas by characterizing Ar, U-Pb, and Nd isotopic signatures, and heavy mineral and Fe-Ti oxide compositions of detrital minerals from each major ice stream entering the Weddell Sea, using onshore tills and existing sediment cores from the Ronne and Filchner Ice Shelves. Pilot data demonstrate that detritus originating from the east and west sides of the Weddell Sea embayment can be clearly distinguished, and published data indicates that the hinterland of the embayment is made up of geochemically distinguishable source areas. Few samples of onshore tills are available from this area, so this project includes fieldwork to collect till to characterize detritus supplied by the Recovery and Foundation ice streams. <br/><br/>2. Document the stratigraphic changes in provenance of iceberg-rafted debris (IRD) and glacially-eroded material in two deep water sediment cores in the NW Weddell Sea. Icebergs calved from ice streams in the embayment are carried by the Weddell Gyre and deposit IRD as they pass over the core sites. The provenance information will identify which ice streams were actively eroding and exporting detritus to the ocean (via iceberg rafting and bottom currents). The stratigraphy of the cores will show the relative sequence of ice stream activity through time. A further time dimension is added by determining the time lag between fine sediment erosion and deposition, using U-series comminution ages.
This project contributes to the joint initiative launched by the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF) and the U.K. Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) to substantially improve decadal and longer-term projections of ice loss and sea-level rise originating from Thwaites Glacier in West Antarctica. The Science Coordination Office will facilitate planning and coordination of the science and broader impacts of several international research projects studying Thwaites Glacier--one of the largest glaciers in Antarctica. The glacier is located on the Pacific coast of the Antarctic continent. It is flowing almost twice as fast now as in the 1970s, and is one of the largest likely contributors to sea-level rise over the coming decades to centuries. Many of the factors that will affect the speed and retreat of Thwaites Glacier will be addressed by the set of projects funded by the Thwaites initiative. The Science Coordination Office comprises a US-UK science and communications team that will work with each project's scientists and students, logistics planners, and NSF and NERC to ensure the overall success of the project. The Office will maintain an informative website, and will produce content to explain the activities of the scientists and highlight the results of the work. <br/><br/>The role of the Science Coordination Office will be to enhance integration and coordination among the science projects selected for the joint NSF-NERC Thwaites initiative to achieve maximum collective scientific and societal impact. The Office will facilitate scientific and logistical planning; facilitate data management, sharing, and discovery; and facilitate and support web content, outreach, and education for this high-profile research endeavor. The Office's role will be key to enabling the program to achieve its scientific goals and for the program to be broadly recognized and valued by scientists, the public, and policymakers.<br/><br/>This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.
Snow or firn aquifers are areas of subsurface meltwater storage that form in glaciated regions experiencing intense summer surface melting and high snowfall. Aquifers can induce hydrofracturing, and thereby accelerate flow or trigger ice-shelf instability leading to increased ice-sheet mass loss. Widespread aquifers have recently been discovered in Greenland. These have been modelled and mapped using new satellite and airborne remote-sensing techniques. In Antarctica, a series of catastrophic break-ups at the Wilkins Ice Shelf on the Antarctic Peninsula that was previously attributed to effects of surface melting and brine infiltration is now recognized as being consistent with a firn aquifer--possibly stimulated by long-period ocean swell--that enhanced ice-shelf hydrofracture. This project will verify inferences (from the same mapping approach used in Greenland) that such aquifers are indeed present in Antarctica. The team will survey two high-probability sites: the Wilkins Ice Shelf, and the southern George VI Ice Shelf. <br/><br/>This two-year study will characterize the firn at the two field sites, drill shallow (~60 m maximum) ice cores, examine snow pits (~2 m), and install two AMIGOS (Automated Met-Ice-Geophysics Observing System) stations that include weather, GPS, and firn temperature sensors that will collect and transmit measurements for at least a year before retrieval. Ground-penetrating radar survey in areas surrounding the field sites will track aquifer extent and depth variations. Ice and microwave model studies will be combined with the field-observed properties to further explore the range of firn aquifers and related upper-snow-layer conditions. This study will provide valuable experience for three early-career scientists. An outreach effort through field blogging, social media posts, K-12 presentations, and public lectures is planned to engage the public in the team's Antarctic scientific exploration and discovery.<br/><br/>This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.
Despite recent advances, we still know little about how life and its traces persist in extremely harsh conditions. What survival strategies do cells employ when pushed to their limit? Using a new technique, this project will investigate whether Antarctic paleolakes harbor "microbial seed banks," or caches of viable microbes adapted to past paleoenvironments that could help transform our understanding of how cells survive over ancient timescales. Findings from this investigation could also illuminate novel DNA repair pathways with possible biomedical and biotechnology applications and help to refine life detection strategies for Mars. The project will bring Antarctic research to Georgetown University''s campus for the first time, providing training opportunities in cutting edge analytical techniques for multiple students and a postdoctoral fellow. The field site will be the McMurdo Dry Valleys, which provide an unrivaled opportunity to investigate fundamental questions about the persistence of microbial life. Multiple lines of evidence, from interbedded and overlying ashfall deposits to parameterized models, suggest that the large-scale landforms there have remained essentially fixed as far back as the middle of the Miocene Epoch (i.e., ~8 million years ago). This geologic stability, coupled with geographic isolation and a steady polar climate, mean that biological activity has probably undergone few qualitative changes over the last one to two million years. The team will sample paleolake facies using sterile techniques from multiple Dry Valleys sites and extract DNA from entombed organic material. Genetic material will then be sequenced using Pacific Biosciences'' Single Molecule, Real-Time DNA sequencing technology, which sequences native DNA as opposed to amplified DNA, thereby eliminating PCR primer bias, and enables read lengths that have never before been possible. The data will be analyzed with a range of bioinformatic techniques, with results that stand to impact our understanding of cell biology, Antarctic paleobiology, microbiology and biogeography, biotechnology, and planetary science.
Antarctic krill are essential in the Southern Ocean as they support vast numbers of marine mammals, seabirds and fishes, some of which feed almost exclusively on krill. Antarctic krill also constitute a target species for industrial fisheries in the Southern Ocean. The success of Antarctic krill populations is largely determined by the ability of their young to survive the long, dark winter, where food is extremely scarce. To survive the long-dark winter, young Antarctic krill must have a high-quality diet in autumn. However, warming in certain parts of Antarctica is changing the dynamics and quality of the polar food web, resulting in a shift in the type of food available to young krill in autumn. It is not yet clear how these dynamic changes are affecting the ability of krill to survive the winter. This project aims to fill an important gap in current knowledge on an understudied stage of the Antarctic krill life cycle, the 1-year old juveniles. The results derived from this work will contribute to the development of improved bioenergetic, population and ecosystem models, and will advance current scientific understanding of this critical Antarctic species. This CAREER projects core education and outreach objectives seek to enhance education and increase diversity within STEM fields. An undergraduate course will be developed that will integrate undergraduate research and writing in way that promotes authentic scientific inquiry and analysis of original research data by the students, and that enhances their communication skills. A graduate course will be developed that will promote students skills in communicating their own research to a non-scientific audience. Graduate students will be supported through the proposed study and will gain valuable research experience. Traditionally underserved undergraduate students will be recruited to conduct independent research under the umbrella of the larger project. Throughout each field season, the research team will maintain a weekly blog that will include short videos, photographs and text highlighting the research, as well as their experiences living and working in Antarctica. The aim of the blog will be to engage the public and increase awareness and understanding of Antarctic ecosystems and the impact of warming, and of the scientific process of research and discovery.<br/><br/>In this 5-year CAREER project, the investigator will use a combination of empirical and theoretical techniques to assess the effects of diet on 1-year old krill in autumn-winter. The research is centered on four hypotheses: (H1) autumn diet affects 1-year old krill physiology and condition at the onset of winter; (H2) autumn diet has an effect on winter physiology and condition of 1-year old krill under variable winter food conditions; (H3) the rate of change in physiology and condition of 1-year old krill from autumn to winter is dependent on autumn diet; and (H4) the winter energy budget of 1-year old krill will vary between years and will be dependent on autumn diet. Long-term feeding experiments and in situ sampling will be used to measure changes in the physiology and condition of krill in relation to their diet and feeding environment. Empirically-derived data will be used to develop theoretical models of growth rates and energy budgets to determine how diet will influence the overwinter survival of 1-year old krill. The research will be integrated with an education and outreach plan to (1) develop engaging undergraduate and graduate courses, (2) train and develop young scientists for careers in polar research, and (3) engage the public and increase their awareness and understanding.<br/><br/>This award reflects NSFs statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.
Part I: Nontechnical
Scientists study the Earth's past climate in order to understand how the climate will respond to ongoing global change in the future. One of the best analogs for future climate might the period that occurred approximately 3 million years ago, during an interval known as the mid-Pliocene Warm Period. During this period, the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere was similar to today's and sea level was 15 or more meters higher, due primarily to warming and consequent ice sheet melting in polar regions. However, the temperatures in polar regions during the mid-Pliocene Warm Period are not well determined, in part because we do not have records like ice cores that extend this far back in time. This project will provide constraints on surface temperatures in Antarctica during the mid-Pliocene Warm Period using a new type of climate proxy, known as cosmogenic noble gas paleothermometry. This project focuses on an area of Antarctica called the McMurdo Dry Valleys. In this area, climate models suggest that temperatures were more than 10 ºC warmer during the mid-Pliocene than they are today, but indirect geologic observations suggest that temperatures may have been similar to today. The McMurdo Dry Valleys are also a place where rocks have been exposed to Earth surface conditions for several million years, and where this new climate proxy can be readily applied. The team will reconstruct temperatures in the McMurdo Dry Valleys during the mid-Pliocene Warm Period in order to resolve the discrepancy between models and indirect geologic observations and provide much-needed constraints on the sensitivity of Antarctic ice sheets to warming temperatures. The temperature reconstructions generated in this project will have scientific impact in multiple disciplines, including climate science, glaciology, geomorphology, and planetary science. In addition, the project will (1) broaden the participation of underrepresented groups by supporting two early-career female principal investigators, (2) build STEM talent through the education and training of a graduate student, (3) enhance infrastructure for research via publication of a publicly-accessible, open-source code library, and (4) be broadly disseminated via social media, blog posts, publications, and conference presentations.
Part II: Technical Description
The mid-Pliocene Warm Period (3–3.3 million years ago) is the most recent interval of the geologic past when atmospheric CO2 concentrations exceeded 400 ppm, and is widely considered an analog for how Earths climate system will respond to current global change. Climate models predict polar amplification the occurrence of larger changes in temperatures at high latitudes than the global average due to a radiative forcing both during the mid-Pliocene Warm Period and due to current climate warming. However, the predicted magnitude of polar amplification is highly uncertain in both cases. The magnitude of polar amplification has important implications for the sensitivity of ice sheets to warming and the contribution of ice sheet melting to sea level change. Proxy-based constraints on polar surface air temperatures during the mid-Pliocene Warm Period are sparse to non-existent. In Antarctica, there is only indirect evidence for the magnitude of warming during this time. This project will provide constraints on surface temperatures in the McMurdo Dry Valleys of Antarctica during the mid-Pliocene Warm Period using a newly developed technique called cosmogenic noble gas (CNG) paleothermometry. CNG paleothermometry utilizes the diffusive behavior of cosmogenic 3He in quartz to quantify the temperatures rocks experience while exposed to cosmic-ray particles within a few meters of the Earths surface. The very low erosion rates and subzero temperatures characterizing the McMurdo Dry Valleys make this region uniquely suited for the application of CNG paleothermometry for addressing the question: what temperatures characterized the McMurdo Dry Valleys during the mid-Pliocene Warm Period? To address this question, the team will collect bedrock samples at several locations in the McMurdo Dry Valleys where erosion rates are known to be low enough that cosmic ray exposure extends into the mid-Pliocene or earlier. They will pair cosmogenic 3He measurements, which will record the thermal histories of our samples, with measurements of cosmogenic 10Be, 26Al, and 21Ne, which record samples exposure and erosion histories. We will also make in situ measurements of rock and air temperatures at sample sites in order to quantify the effect of radiative heating and develop a statistical relationship between rock and air temperatures, as well as conduct diffusion experiments to quantify the kinetics of 3He diffusion specific to each sample. This suite of observations will be used to model permissible thermal histories and place constraints on temperatures during the mid-Pliocene Warm Period interval of cosmic-ray exposure.
A fundamental assumption in paleomagnetism is that a geocentric axial dipole (GAD) geomagnetic field structure extends to the ancient field. Global paleodirectional compilations that span 0 - 10 Myr support a GAD dominated field structure with minor non-GAD contributions, however, the paleointensity data over the same period do not.
In a GAD field, higher latitudes should preserve higher intensity, but the current database suggests that intensities are independent of latitude. To determine whether the seemingly "low" intensities from Antarctica reflect the ancient field, rather than low quality data or inadequate temporal sampling, we have conducted a new study of the paleomagnetic field in Antarctica. Our investigation focuses on the paleomagnetic field structure over the Late Neogene. We combined and re- analyzed new and published paleodirectional and paleointensity results from the Erebus volcanic province to recover directions from 111 sites that were both thermally and AF demagnetized and then subjected to a set of strict selection criteria and 28 paleointensity estimates from specimens that underwent the IZZI modified Thellier-Thellier experiment and were also subjected to a strict set of selection criteria. The paleopole (232.0oE, 86.91oN and α95 of 5.37o) recovered from our paleodirectional study supports the GAD hypothesis and the scatter of the virtual geomagnetic poles is within the uncertainty of that predicted by TK03 paleosecular variation model. Our time averaged field strength estimate, 33.01 μT ± 2.59 μT, is significantly lower than that expected for a GAD field estimated from the present field, but consistent with the long term average field.
Nontechnical Abstract<br/>Studies in Antarctica are, at present, severely limited by the costs of placing measurement instruments within and beneath thousands of meters of ice. Our aim is to enable dense, widespread measurement-networks by advancing development of low-cost ice melt probe technology to deploy instruments. Ice melt probes use electrical energy to descend through thick ice with little support structure on the ice surface. We are extending previous technology by using anti-freeze to maintain a partially open melt-hole above a descending probe, deploying as we go a new a new fiber-optic technology to measure ice temperature. Ice temperature measurements will reveal spatial patterns of heat welling up from the Earth beneath the ice, which in turn will contribute greatly to finding ancient ice that contains global climate records, and to understanding how ice flow may raise sea levels. Our immediate objective in this 1-year project is to test and refine our anti-freeze-based method in a 15 meter-tall ice column at the University of Wisconsin, so as to reduce technical risk in future field tests. <br/><br/>Technical Abstract<br/>The overarching aim of our development is to enable widespread, spatially dense deployments of instruments within and beneath the Antarctic Ice Sheet for a variety of investigations, beginning with observations of basal temperature and geothermal flux at the base of the ice sheet. Dense, widespread deployment requires logistical costs far below current costs for ice drilling and coring. Our approach is to extend ice melt probe technology (which is inherently light, logistically) to allow the progressive deployment of cable for Distributed Temperature Sensing (DTS) from the ice surface as the probe descends, without greatly increasing logistical costs. Our extension is based on arresting refreezing of the melt-hole above the probe (at a diameter a few times the cable diameter) by injecting anti-freeze - specifically, ethanol at temperature near 0C - a few meters above the probe during descent. After thermal equilibration of the liquid ethanol/water column with the ice, DTS measurements yield the depth-profile of ice sheet temperature, from which basal temperature and (over frozen beds) geothermal flux can be inferred. We have carried out initial trials of our approach in a cold-room laboratory, but field work based only on such small-scale tests may still involve unnecessary risk. We therefore propose further testing at a facility of the Ice Drilling Design and Operations (IDDO) facility in Madison, WI. The new trials will test our approaches to melt-hole control and probe recovery in the taller column, will test cable and cable-tension-management methods more nearly approximating those needed to work on ice sheets, and will demonstrate the Distributed Temperature Sensing in its field configuration.<br/><br/>This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.
The Southern Ocean in the vicinity of Antarctica is a region characterized by seasonally-driven marine phytoplankton blooms that are often dominated by microalgal species which produce large amounts of dimethylsulfoniopropionate (DMSP). DMSP can be converted to the compound dimethylsulfide (DMS) which is a molecule that can escape into the atmosphere where it is known to have strong condensation properties that are involved in regional cloud formation. Production of DMSP can influence the diversity and composition of microbial assemblages in seawater and the types and activities of microbes in the seawater will likely affect the magnitude of DMSP\DMS production. The project examined the role of DMSP in structuring the microbial communities in Antarctic waters and how this structuring may influence DMSP cycling. The project interacted with elementary students in Maine and brought undergraduate students to Bigelow Laboratory. The project also engaged with a science writer and illustrator who joined the team in Palmer Station in 2018. Many posts are available at xxx
The project is examining (1) the extent to which the cycling of DMSP in southern ocean waters influenced the composition and diversity of bacterial and protistan assemblages; (2) conversely, whether the composition and diversity of southern ocean protistan and bacterial assemblages influenced the magnitude and rates of DMSP cycling; we are awaiting results on (3) the expression of DMSP degradation genes by marine bacteria seasonally and in response to field experimental additions of DMSP; and, this year (2020-21), we will synthesize these results by quantifying (4) the microbial networks resulting from the presence of DMSP-producers and DMSP-consumers along with their predators, all involved in the cycling of DMSP in southern ocean waters. The work was accomplished by conducting continuous growth experiments with DMSP-amended natural samples of different microbial communities present in summer (2016-17) and fall (2018) at Palmer Station, WAP. Data from the molecular (such as 16S/ 18S tag sequences, DMSP-cycle gene transcripts) and biogeochemical (such as biogenic sulfur cycling, bacterial production, microbial biomass) investigations will be integrated via network analysis in the coming year (2020-21).
The Antarctic subglacial environment remains one of the least explored regions on Earth. This project will examine the physical and biological characteristics of Subglacial Lake Mercer, a lake that lies 1200m beneath the West Antarctic Ice Sheet. This study will address key questions relating to the stability of the ice sheet, the subglacial hydrological system, and the deep-cold subglacial biosphere. The education and outreach component aims to widely disseminate results to the scientific community and to the general public through short films, a blog, and a website.
Subglacial Lake Mercer is one of the larger hydrologically active lakes in the southern basin of the Whillans Ice Plain, West Antarctica. It receives about 25 percent of its water from East Antarctica with the remainder originating from West Antarctica, is influenced by drain/fill cycles in a lake immediately upstream (Subglacial Lake Conway), and lies about 100 km upstream of the present grounding line of the Ross Ice Shelf. This site will yield information on the history of the Whillans and Mercer Ice Streams, and on grounding line migration. The integrated study will include direct sampling of basal ice, water, and sediment from the lake in concert with surface geophysical surveys over a three-year period to define the hydrological connectivity among lakes on the Whillans Ice Plain and their flow paths to the sea. The geophysical surveys will furnish information on subglacial hydrology, aid the site selection for hot-water drilling, and provide spatial context for interpreting findings. The hot-water-drilled boreholes will be used to collect basal ice samples, provide access for direct measurement of subglacial physical, chemical, and biological conditions in the water column and sediments, and to explore the subglacial water cavities using a remotely operated vehicle equipped with sensors, cameras, and sampling equipment. Data collected from this study will address the overarching hypothesis "Contemporary biodiversity and carbon cycling in hydrologically-active subglacial environments associated with the Mercer and Whillans ice streams are regulated by the mineralization and cycling of relict marine organic matter and through interactions among ice, rock, water, and sediments". The project will be undertaken by a collaborative team of scientists, with expertise in microbiology, biogeochemistry, hydrology, geophysics, glaciology, marine geology, paleoceanography, and science communication.
The investigators plan to reconstruct historical variations in the sources of atmospheric carbon monoxide (CO) from measurements of the concentration and stable isotopic abundance of carbon monoxide ([CO], 13CO and C18O) in the South Pole Ice Core, which is being drilled in 2014-2016. The goal is to strategically sample and reconstruct the relative variations in CO source strengths over the past 20,000 years. These will be the first measurements to extend the CO record beyond 650 years before present, back to the last glacial maximum. Both atmospheric chemical processes and variations in CO sources can impact the CO budget, and variations in the CO budget are useful in identifying and quantifying chemistry-climate interactions.
The ocean tide is a large component of total variability of ocean surface height and currents in the seas surrounding Antarctica, including under the floating ice shelves. Maximum tidal height range exceeds 7 m (near the grounding line of Rutford Ice Stream) and maximum tidal currents exceed 1 m/s (near the shelf break in the northwest Ross Sea). Tides contribute to several important climate and ecosystems processes including: ocean mixing, production of dense bottom water, flow of warm Circumpolar Deep Water onto the continental shelves, melting at the bases of ice shelves, fracturing of the ice sheet near a glacier or ice stream’s grounding line, production and decay of sea ice, and sediment resuspension. Tide heights and, in particular, currents can change as the ocean background state changes, and as the geometry of the coastal margins of the Antarctic Ice Sheet varies through ice shelf thickness changes and ice-front and grounding-line advances or retreats. For satellite-based studies of ocean surface height and ice shelf thickness changes, tide heights are a source of substantial noise that must be removed. Similarly, tidal currents can also be a substantial noise signal when trying to estimate mean ocean currents from short-term measurements such as from acoustic Doppler current profilers mounted on ships and CTD rosettes. Therefore, tide models play critical roles in understanding current and future ocean and ice states, and as a method for removing tides in various measurements. A paper in Reviews of Geophysics (Padman, Siegfried and Fricker, 2018, see list of project-related publications below) provides a detailed review of tides and tidal processes around Antarctica.
This project provides a gateway to tide models and a database of tide height coefficients at the Antarctic Data Center, and links to toolboxes to work with these models and data.
This study focuses on processing and interpretation of internationally collected aerogeophysical data from the Southern Plateau of the East Antarctic Ice Sheet. The data include ice penetrating radar data, laser altimetry, gravity and magnetics. The project will provide information on geological trends under the ice, the topography and character of the ice/rock interface, and the stratigraphy of the ice. The project will also provide baseline site characterization for future drilling. Future drilling sites and deep ice cores for old ice require that the base of the ice sheet be frozen to the bed (i.e. no free water at the interface between rock and ice) and the assessment will map the extent of frozen vs. thawed areas. Specifically, three main outcomes are anticipated for this project. First, the study will provide an assessment of the viability of Titan Dome, a subglacial highland region located near South Pole, as a potential old ice drilling prospect. The assessment will include determining the hydraulic context of the bed by processing and interpreting the radar data, ice sheet mass balance through time by mapping englacial reflectors in the ice and connecting them to ice stratigraphy in the recent South Pole, and ice sheet geometry using laser altimetry. Second, the study will provide an assessment of the geological context of the Titan Dome region with respect to understanding regional geologic boundaries and the potential for bedrock sampling. For these two goals, we will use data opportunistically collected by China, and the recent PolarGAP dataset. Third, the study will provide an assessment of the risk posture for RAID site targeting in the Titan Dome region, and the Dome C region. This will use a high-resolution dataset the team collected previously at Dome C, an area similar to the coarser resolution data collected at Titan Dome, and will enable an understanding of what is missed by the wide lines spacing at Titan Dome. Specifically, we will model subglacial hydrology with and without the high resolution data, and statistically examine the detection of subglacial mountains (which could preserve old ice) and subglacial lakes (which could destroy old ice), as a function of line spacing.
Overview: In order to close the global overturning circulation, high-density deep- and bottom waters produced at high latitudes must be made less dense and upwell to shallower depths. Available observations from the subtropical South Atlantic indicate that the bulk of the mixing in the deep ocean there takes place over the topographically rough Mid-Atlantic Ridge, in particular in the quasi-regularly spaced "fracture zone canyons" corrugating the ridge flanks. There, dense water is advected toward the ridge crest (i.e. upwelled) by persistent along-valley currents that flow down the unidirectional density gradients, which are maintained by strong turbulence (diapycnal mixing). Most of the data on which these inferences are based were collected during the Brazil Basin Tracer Release Experiment (BBTRE) along a single ridge-flank canyon in the western South Atlantic near 22S where previous analyses have shown that both tidal mixing and overflow processes are important. Therefore, it is likely that both processes must be considered in order to understand and parameterize the effects of turbulence and mixing in the canyons corrugating the flanks of all slow-spreading ridges, which make up large fractions of the sea floor, in particular in the Atlantic, Indian and Southern Oceans. The primary aim of this follow-on project is to improve our understanding of the dynamics over the corrugated flanks of slow-spreading mid-ocean ridges. Due to the coarse sampling resolution and choice of station locations it is not possible to answer important questions, such as the relative importance of tidal and sill mixing, from the BBTRE data. Therefore, high-resolution surveys of hydrography, three-dimensional flow, turbulence and mixing will be carried out in two neighboring canyons and over the intervening topographic spur in the BBTRE region to determine the relative contributions of tidal and sill-related mixing. Furthermore, profiling moorings deployed on two nearby sill regions will be used to derive time series of spatially integrated mixing related buoyancy fluxes and to investigate the strong but unexplained sub-inertial variability of the along-canyon flow recorded previously. Additionally, three small moorings will be deployed in saddles between the two canyons to investigate inter-canyon exchange. The data analysis will include available data from previous experiments, including a set of tracer profiles that has not been analyzed before. Intellectual Merit: The corrugated flanks of slow-spreading ridges cover large areas of the sea floor of several major ocean basins. Therefore, understanding the dynamics in the ~100 km of ridge-flank canyons and its effects on the buoyancy and upwelling budget of the abyssal ocean is of global significance. In addition to determining the relative importance of tidal mixing and cross-sill flows in two canyons, the temporal variability of turbulence and mixing from tidal to yearly time scales will be investigated to gain insights into the forcing of the along-canyon flows, the exchange between neighboring canyons, and the eventual fate of the canyon waters. Broader Impacts: It is anticipated that insights gained during this project will improve our understanding of abyssal mixing in many different regions with similar bottom topography and provide the basis for better parameterizations of the effects of turbulence and mixing in large-scale circulation and climate models that cannot resolve these small-scale processes. As part of the project, a graduate student and a post-doctoral researcher will be trained in all aspects of observational physical oceanography, from data acquisition to interpretation.
Modeling fluctuations in the extent of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet (WAIS) over time is a principal goal of the glaciological community. These models will provide a critical basis for predictions of future sea level change, and therefore this work great societal relevance. The mid-Pliocene time interval is of particular interest, as it is the most recent period in which global temperatures were warmer and atmospheric CO2 concentrations may have been higher than current levels. However, observational constraints on fluctuations in the WAIS older than the last glacial maximum are rare.
To test model predictions,sub-glacial rock cores were obtained from the Ohio Range along the Transantarctic Mountains near the present-day WAIS divide using a Winkie drill. Rock cores were recovered from 10 to ~30 m under the present-day ice levels. At the Ohio Range, the glacial to interglacial variations in ice sheet levels is ~120 meters. So 30 meters represent a significant fraction of the variation over the course of an ice age.
High concentrations of the cosmic ray produced isotopes were detected in the rock cores, indicating extensive periods of ice-free exposure to cosmic irradiation during the last 2 million years. Modeling of the data suggest that bedrock surfaces at the Ohio Range that are currently covered by 30 meters of ice experienced more exposure than ice cover, especially in the Pleistocene. An ice sheet model prediction for the Ohio Range subglacial sample sites however, significantly underestimates exposure in the last 2 million years, and over-predicts ice cover in the Pleistocene. To adjust for the higher amounts of exposure we observe in our samples, the ice sheet model simulations require more frequent and/or longer-lasting WAIS ice drawdowns. This has important implications for future sea-level change as the model maybe under-predicting the magnitude of sea-level contributions from WAIS during the ice-age cycles. Improving the accuracy of the ice sheet models through model-data comparison should remain a prime objective in the face of a warming planet as understanding WAIS behavior is going to be key for predicting and planning for the effects of sea-level change. The project helped support and train a graduate student in climate research related to Antarctica, cosmogenic nuclide analyses and led to a Master’s Thesis. The project also provide partial support to a postdoctoral scholar obtaining cosmogenic neon measurements and for training and mentoring the graduate student's cosmogenic neon measurements and interpretation. The project results were communicated to the scientific community at conferences and through seminars. The broader community was engaged through the University of California Davis's Picnic Day celebration, an annual open house that attracts over 70,000 people to the campus, and through classroom visit at a local elementary school.
Atmospheric oxygen rose suddenly approximately 2.4 billion years ago after Cyanobacteria evolved the ability to produce oxygen through photosynthesis (oxygenic photosynthesis). This change permanently altered the future of life on Earth, yet little is known about the evolutionary processes leading to it. The Melainabacteria were first discovered in 2013 and are closely related non-photosynthetic relatives of the first group of organisms capable of oxygenic photosynthesis. This project will utilize existing data on metagenomes from microbial mats in Lake Vanda, an ice-covered lake in Antarctica where many sequences of Melainabacteria have been previously identified.
From this genetic information, we identified a new cyanobacterium, named Aurora vandensis, that is sister to all other Cyanobacteria, providing evolutionary insights. In addition, we assessed the metabolic capabilities of the Melainabacteria with good genomic coverage to identify their potential ecological roles. None contain photosynthetic genes, and we are evaluating the evolutionary relationships among the Cyanobacteria and Melainabacteria, particularly with respect to metabolic genes that will allow an advancement in understanding of the evolutionary path that lead to oxygenic photosynthesis on Earth.
The project will focus on extracting evolutionary information from the genomic data of Melainabacteria and Sericytochromatia, recently-described groups closely related to but basal to the Cyanobacteria. The characterization of novel members of these groups in samples from Lake Vanda, Antarctica, provide insights into the path and processes involved in the evolution of oxygenic photosynthesis. The research identified a novel cyanobacterial genus that is sister to all other Cyanobacteria, is most closely related to Gloeobacter, and shares evolutionary differences with that genus. Results also show that characterized Melainabacteria lack photosynthesis genes, but their respiration genes provide insight into evolutionary relationships among Melainabacteria and Cyanobacteria. Results provide unexpected constraints. The project focuses on 12 metagenomes, from which Melainabacteria and novel Cyanobacteria bins are annotated and preliminary metabolic pathways will be constructed. The project utilizes full-length sequences of marker genes from across the bacterial domain with a particular focus on taxa that are oxygenic or anoxygenic phototrophs and use the marker genes, to build a rooted "backbone" tree. Incomplete or short sequences from the metagenomes are added to the tree using the Evolutionary Placement Algorithm. The researchers built a corresponding phylogenetic tree using a Bayesian framework and compare their topologies. By doing so, the project aims to improve the understanding of the evolution of oxygenic photosynthesis, which caused the most significant change in Earth's surface chemistry. Specifically, we document a novel and basal cyanobacterium, significantly broader metabolic diversity within the Melainabacteria than has been previously identified, gain significant insights into their metabolic evolution, their evolutionary relationships with the Cyanobacteria, and the evolutionary steps leading to the origin of oxygenic photosynthesis. This research is constraining key evolutionary processes in the origin of oxygenic photosynthesis. It provides the foundation for future studies by indicating where a genomic record of the evolution of oxygenic photosynthesis may be preserved. Results will are being shared with middle school children through the development of scientific lesson plans in collaboration with teachers.
This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.
The waters of the Ross Sea continental shelf are among the most productive in the Southern Ocean, and may comprise a significant regional oceanic sink for atmospheric carbon dioxide. In this region, primary production can be limited by the supply of dissolved iron to surface waters during the growing season. Water-column observations, sampling and measurements are to be carried out in the late autumn-early winter time frame on the Ross Sea continental shelf and coastal polynyas (Terra Nova Bay and Ross Ice Shelf polynyas), in order to better understand what drives the biogeochemical redistribution of micronutrient iron species during the onset of convective mixing and sea-ice formation at this time of year, thereby setting conditions for primary production during the following spring. The spectacular field setting and remote, hostile conditions that accompany the proposed field study present exciting possibilities for STEM education and training. At the K-12 level, the project seeks to support the development of educational outreach materials targeting elementary and middle school students, pre-service science teachers, and in-service science teachers.
This award supports a project to measure the carbon dioxide (CO2) concentration in the WAIS Divide ice core covering the time period 25,000 to 60,000 years before present, and to analyze the isotopic composition of CO2 in selected time intervals. The research will improve understanding of how and why atmospheric CO2 varied during the last ice age, focusing particularly on abrupt transitions in the concentration record that are associated with abrupt climate change. These events represents large perturbations to the global climate system and better information about the CO2 response should inform our understanding of carbon cycle-climate feedbacks and radiative forcing of climate. The research will also improve analytical methods in support of these goals, including completing development of sublimation methods to replace laborious mechanical crushing of ice to release air for analysis. The intellectual merit of the proposed work is that it will increase knowledge about the magnitude and timing of atmospheric CO2 variations during the last ice age, and their relationship to regional climate in Antarctica, global climate history, and the history of abrupt climate change in the Northern Hemisphere. The temporal resolution of the proposed record will in most intervals be ~ 4 x higher than previous data sets for this time period, and for selected intervals up to 8-10 times higher. Broader impacts of the proposed work include a significant addition to the amount of data documenting the history of the most important long-lived greenhouse gas in the atmosphere and more information about carbon cycle-climate feedbacks - important parameters for predicting future climate change. The project will contribute to training a postdoctoral researcher, research experience for an undergraduate and a high school student, and outreach to local middle school and other students. It will also improve the analytical infrastructure at OSU, which will be available for future projects.
The depletion of stratospheric ozone over Antarctica leads to abnormally high levels of ultraviolet radiation (UVR) from the sun reaching the surface of the ocean. This phenomenon is predicted to continue for the next half century, despite bans on ozone-destroying pollutants. Phytoplankton in the near surface ocean are subjected to variable amounts of UVR and contain a lot of lipids (fats). Because phytoplankton are at the base of the food chain their lipids makes their way into the Antarctic marine ecosystem's food web. The molecular structures of phytoplankton lipids are easily altered by UVR. When this happens, their lipids can be transformed from healthy molecules into potentially harmful molecules(oxylipins) known to be disruptive to reproductive and developmental processes. This project will use state-of-the-art molecular methods to answer questions about extent to which UVR damages lipid molecules in phytoplankton, and how these resultant molecules might effect the food chain in the ocean near Antarctica. <br/><br/><br/>Lipid peroxidation is often invoked as consequence of increased exposure of phytoplankton to UVR-produced reactive oxygen species (ROS), but the literature is practically silent on peroxidized lipids and their byproducts (i.e. oxylipins) in the ocean. In waters of the West Antarctic Peninsula (WAP), spring-time blooms of diatoms contribute significantly to overall marine primary production. Oxylipins from diatoms can be highly bioactive; their impact on zooplankton grazers, bacteria, and other phytoplankton has been the subject of intense study. However, almost all of this work has focused on the production of oxylipins via enzymatic pathways, not by pathways involving UVR and/or ROS. Furthermore, rigorous experimental work on the effects of oxylipins has been confined almost exclusively to pure cultures and artificial communities. Thus, the true potential of these molecules to disrupt carbon cycling is very poorly-constrained, and is entirely unknown in the waters of the WAP. Armed with new highly-sensitive, state-of-the-art analytical techniques based on high-mass-resolution mass spectrometry, the principal investigator and his research group have begun to uncover an exquisite diversity of oxylipins in natural WAP planktonic communities. These techniques will be applied to understand the connections between UVR, ROS, oxylipins, and carbon cycling. The project will answer the question of how UVR, via ROS, affects oxylipin production by diatoms in WAP surface waters in controlled experiments conducted at a field station. With the answer to this question in hand, the project will also seek to answer how this phenomenon impacts the flow of carbon, particularly the export of organic carbon from the system, during a research cruise. The level of UVR-induced stresses experienced by oxylipin-rich planktonic communities in the WAP is unique, making Antarctica the only location for answering these fundamental questions. Major activities will include laboratory experiments with artificial membranes and diatom cultures, as well field experiments with phytoplankton, zooplankton, and bacteria in WAP waters.
This project investigated the distribution of dissolved and solid phase iron in sediments along the western edge of the Antarctic Peninsula (i.e., the West Antarctic Shelf), as well as the biogeochemical processes occurring in these sediments that exert a major control on sediment iron distributions. In many coastal and continental margin regions, including those along the west side of the Antarctic Peninsula, sediments appear to represent a potentially important, but poorly quantified, source of iron to the overlying water column to support primary productivity. Sediment concentrations of iron are high (relative to those in seawater), and a number of different processes in the sediments may allow iron to “leak” from the sediments to the overlying waters, which could then support productivity driven by this “recycled” iron.
Hydrogen (H2) is one of the most abundant trace gases in the atmosphere, with a mean level of 500 ppb and an atmospheric lifetime of about two years. Hydrogen has an impact on both air quality and climate, due to its role as a precursor for tropospheric ozone and stratospheric water vapor. Projections indicate that a future "hydrogen economy" would increase hydrogen emissions. Understanding of the atmospheric hydrogen budget is largely based on a 30-year record of surface air measurements, but there are no long-term records with which to assess either: 1) the influence of climate change on atmospheric hydrogen, or 2) the extent to which humans have impacted the hydrogen budget. Polar ice core records of hydrogen will advance our understanding of the atmospheric hydrogen cycle and provide a stronger basis for projecting future changes to atmospheric levels of hydrogen and their impacts. <br/><br/>The research will involve laboratory work to enable the collection and analysis of hydrogen in polar ice cores. Hydrogen is a highly diffusive molecule and, unlike most other atmospheric gases, diffusion of hydrogen in ice is so rapid that ice samples must be stored in impermeable containers immediately upon drilling and recovery. This project will: 1) construct a laboratory system for extracting and analyzing hydrogen in polar ice, 2) develop and test materials and construction designs for vessels to store ice core samples in the field, and 3) test the method on samples of opportunity previously stored in the field. The goal of this project is a proven, cost-effective design for storage flasks to be fabricated for use on future polar ice coring projects. This project will support the dissertation research of a graduate student in the UC Irvine Department of Earth System Science.<br/><br/>This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.
Predictions of future sea level rise require better understanding of the changing dynamics of the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets. One way to better understand the past history of the ice sheets is to obtain records from inland ice for past geological periods, particularly in Antarctica, the world's largest remaining ice sheet. Such records are exceedingly rare, and can be acquired at volcanic outcrops in the La Gorce Mountains of the central Transantarctic Mountains. Volcanoes now exposed within the La Gorce Mountains erupted beneath the East Antarctic ice sheet and the data collected will record how thick the ice sheet was in the past. In addition, information will be used to determine the thermal conditions at the base of the ice sheet, which impacts ice sheet stability. The project will also investigate the origin of volcanic activity in Antarctica and links to the West Antarctic Rift System (WARS). The WARS is a broad area of extended (i.e. stretched) continental crust, similar to that found in East Africa, and volcanism is wide spread and long-lived (65 million years to currently active) and despite more than 50 years of research, the fundamental cause of volcanism and rifting in Antarctica is still vigorously debated. The results of this award therefore also potentially impact the study of oceanic volcanism in the entire southwestern Pacific region (e.g., New Zealand and Australia), where volcanic fields of similar composition and age have been linked by common magma sources and processes. The field program includes a graduate student who will work on the collection, analysis, and interpretation of petrological data as part of his/her Masters project. The experience and specialized analytical training being offered will improve the quality of the student's research and optimize their opportunities for their future. The proposed work fosters faculty and student national and international collaboration, including working with multi-user facilities that provide advanced technological mentoring of science students. Results will be broadly disseminated in peer-reviewed journals, public presentations at science meetings, and in outreach activities. Petrologic and geochemical data will be disseminated to be the community through the Polar Rock Repository. The study of subglacially erupted volcanic rocks has been developed to the extent that it is now the most powerful proxy methodology for establishing precise 'snapshots' of ice sheets, including multiple critical ice parameters. Such data should include measurements of ice thickness, surface elevation and stability, which will be used to verify, or reject, published semi-empirical models relating ice dynamics to sea level changes. In addition to establishing whether East Antarctic ice was present during the formation of the volcanoes, data will be used to derive the coeval ice thicknesses, surface elevations and basal thermal regime(s) in concert with a precise new geochronology using the 40Ar/39Ar dating method. Inferences from measurement of standard geochemical characteristics (major, trace elements and Sr, Nd, Pb, O isotopes) will be used to investigate a possible relationship between the volcanoes and the recently discovered subglacial ridge under the East Antarctic ice, which may be a rift flank uplift. The ridge has never been sampled, is undated and its significance is uncertain. The data will provide important new information about the deep Earth and geodynamic processes beneath this mostly ice covered and poorly understood sector of the Antarctic continent.
The western Antarctic Peninsula has become a model for understanding cold water communities and how they may be changing in Antarctica and elsewhere. Brown macroalgae (seaweeds) form extensive undersea forests in the northern portion of this region where they play a key role in providing both physical structure and a food (carbon) source for shallow water communities. Yet between Anvers Island (64 degrees S latitude) and Adelaide Island (67 S latitude) these macroalgae become markedly less abundant and diverse. This is probably because the habitat to the south is covered by more sea ice for a longer period, and the sea ice reduces the amount of light that reaches the algae. The reduced macroalgal cover undoubtedly impacts other organisms in the food web, but the ways in which it alters sea-floor community processes and organization is unknown. This project will quantitatively document the macroalgal communities at multiple sites between Anvers and Adelaide Islands using a combination of SCUBA diving, video surveys, and algal collections. Sea ice cover, light levels, and other environmental parameters on community structure will be modelled to determine which factors have the largest influence. Impacts on community structure, food webs, and carbon flow will be assessed through a mixture of SCUBA diving and video surveys. Broader impacts include the training of graduate students and a postdoctoral researcher, as well as numerous informal public education activities including lectures, presentations to K-12 groups, and a variety of social media-based outreach.<br/><br/>Macroalgal communities are more abundance and diverse to the north along the Western Antarctic Peninsula, perhaps due to the greater light availability that is associated with shorter period of sea-ice cover. This project will determine the causes and community level consequence of this variation in algal community structure. First, satellite data on sea ice extent and water turbidity will be used to select study sites between 64 S and 69 S where the extent of annual sea ice cover is the primary factor influencing subsurface light levels. Then, variations in macroalgal cover across these study sites will be determined by video line-transect surveys conducted by SCUBA divers. The health, growth, and physiological status of species found at the different sites will be determined by quadrat sampling. The relative importance of macroalgal-derived carbon to the common invertebrate consumers in the foodweb will be assessed with stable isotope and fatty acid biomarker techniques. This will reveal how variation in macroalgal abundance and species composition across the sea ice cover gradient impacts sea floor community composition and carbon flow throughout the food web. In combination, this work will facilitate predictions of how the ongoing reductions in extent and duration of sea ice cover that is occurring in the region as a result of global climate change will impact the structure of nearshore benthic communities.<br/><br/>This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.
The geological structure and history of Antarctica remains poorly understood because much of the continental crust is covered by ice. Here, the PIs will analyze over 15 years of seismic data recorded by numerous projects in Antarctica to develop seismic structural models of the continent. The seismic velocity models will reveal features including crustal thinning due to rifting in West Antarctica, the structures associated with mountain building, and the boundaries between different tectonic blocks. The models will be compared to continents that are better understood geologically to constrain the tectonic evolution of Antarctica. In addition, the work will provide better insight into how the solid earth interacts with and influences the development of the ice sheet. Surface heat flow will be mapped and used to identify regions in Antarctica with potential melting at the base of the ice sheet. This melt can lead to reduced friction and lower resistance to ice sheet movement. The models will help to determine whether the earth response to ice mass changes occurs over decades, hundreds, or thousands of years. Estimates of mantle viscosity calculated from the seismic data will be used to better understand the pattern and timescales of the response of the solid earth to changes in ice mass in various parts of Antarctica.<br/><br/>The study will advance our knowledge of the structure of Antarctica by constructing two new seismic models and a thermal model using different but complementary methodologies. Because of the limitations of different seismic analysis methods, efforts will be divided between a model seeking the highest possible resolution within the upper 200 km depth in the well instrumented region (Bayesian Monte-Carlo joint inversion), and another model determining the structure of the entire continent and surrounding oceans extending through the mantle transition zone (adjoint full waveform inversion). The Monte-Carlo inversion will jointly invert Rayleigh wave group and phase velocities from earthquakes and ambient noise correlation along with P-wave receiver functions and Rayleigh H/V ratios. The inversion will be done in a Bayesian framework that provides uncertainty estimates for the structural model. Azimuthal anisotropy will be determined from Rayleigh wave velocities, providing constraints on mantle fabric and flow patterns. The seismic data will also be inverted for temperature structure, providing estimates of lithospheric thickness and surface heat flow. The larger-scale model will cover the entire continent as well as the surrounding oceans, and will be constructed using an adjoint inversion of phase differences between three component seismograms and synthetic seismograms calculated in a 3D earth model using the spectral element method. This model will fit the entire waveforms, including body waves and both fundamental and higher mode surface waves. Higher resolution results will be obtained by using double-difference methods and by incorporating Green's functions from ambient noise cross-correlation, and solving for both radial and azimuthal anisotropy.<br/><br/>This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.
This award supports a project to measure the concentration of the gas methane in air trapped in an ice core collected from the South Pole. The data will provide an age scale (age as a function of depth) by matching the South Pole methane changes with similar data from other ice cores for which the age vs. depth relationship is well known. The ages provided will allow all other gas measurements made on the South Pole core (by the PI and other NSF supported investigators) to be interpreted accurately as a function of time. This is critical because a major goal of the South Pole coring project is to understand the history of rare gases in the atmosphere like carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, ethane, propane, methyl chloride, and methyl bromide. Relatively little is known about what controls these gases in the atmosphere despite their importance to atmospheric chemistry and climate. Undergraduate assistants will work on the project and be introduced to independent research through their work. The PI will continue visits to local middle schools to introduce students to polar science, and other outreach activities (e.g. laboratory tours, talks to local civic or professional organizations) as part of the project. <br/><br/>Methane concentrations from a major portion (2 depth intervals, excluding the brittle ice-zone which is being measured at Penn State University) of the new South Pole ice core will be used to create a gas chronology by matching the new South Pole ice core record with that from the well-dated WAIS Divide ice core record. In combination with measurements made at Penn State, this will provide gas dating for the entire 50,000-year record. Correlation will be made using a simple but powerful mid-point method that has been previously demonstrated, and other methods of matching records will be explored. The intellectual merit of this work is that the gas chronology will be a fundamental component of this ice core project, and will be used by the PI and other investigators for dating records of atmospheric composition, and determining the gas age-ice age difference independently of glaciological models, which will constrain processes that affected firn densification in the past. The methane data will also provide direct stratigraphic markers of important perturbations to global biogeochemical cycles (e.g., rapid methane variations synchronous with abrupt warming and cooling in the Northern Hemisphere) that will tie other ice core gas records directly to those perturbations. A record of the total air content will also be produced as a by-product of the methane measurements and will contribute to understanding of this parameter. The broader impacts include that the work will provide a fundamental data set for the South Pole ice core project and the age scale (or variants of it) will be used by all other investigators working on gas records from the core. The project will employ an undergraduate assistant(s) in both years who will conduct an undergraduate research project which will be part of the student's senior thesis or other research paper. The project will also offer at least one research position for the Oregon State University Summer REU site program. Visits to local middle schools, and other outreach activities (e.g. laboratory tours, talks to local civic or professional organizations) will also be part of the project.
Abstract (non-technical)<br/>Sea level rise is a problem of global importance and it is increasingly affecting the tens of millions of Americans living along coastlines. The melting of glaciers in mountain areas worldwide in response to global warming is a major cause of sea level rise and increases in nuisance coastal flooding. However, the world's largest land-based ice sheets are situated in the Polar Regions and their response under continued warming is very difficult to predict. One reason for this uncertainty is a lack of observations of ice behavior and melt under conditions of warming, as it is a relatively new global climate state lasting only a few generations so far. Researchers will investigate ice growth on Antarctica under past warm conditions using geological archives embedded in the layers of sand and mud under the sea floor near Antarctica. By peeling back at the layers beneath the seafloor investigators can read the history book of past events affecting the ice sheet. The Antarctic continent on the South Pole, carries the largest ice mass in the world. The investigator's findings will substantially improve scientists understanding of the response of ice sheets to global warming and its effect on sea level rise.<br/><br/><br/>Abstract (technical)<br/>The melt of land based ice is raising global sea levels with at present only minor contributions from polar ice sheets. However, the future role of polar ice sheets in climate change is one of the most critical uncertainties in predictions of sea level rise around the globe. The respective roles of oceanic and atmospheric greenhouse forcing on ice sheets are poorly addressed with recent measurements of polar climatology, because of the extreme rise in greenhouse forcing the earth is experiencing at this time. Data on the evolution of the West Antarctic ice sheet is particularly sparse. To address the data gap, researchers will reconstruct the timing and spatial distribution of Antarctic ice growth through the last greenhouse to icehouse climate transition around 37 to 33 Ma. They will collect sedimentological and geochemical data on core samples from a high-latitude paleoarchive to trace the shutdown of the chemical weathering system, the onset of glacial erosion, ice rafting, and sea ice development, as East and West Antarctic ice sheets coalesced in the Weddell Sea sector. Their findings will lead to profound increases in the understanding of the role of greenhouse forcing in ice sheet development and its effect on the global climate system.<br/><br/>This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.
Ice cores contain detailed accounts of Earth's climate history. The collection of an ice core can be logistically challenging, and extraction of data from the core can be time-consuming as well as susceptible to both human and machine error. Furthermore, locked in measurements from ice cores is information that scientists have not yet found ways to recover. This project will apply techniques from information theory to ice-core data to unlock that information. The primary goal is to demonstrate that information theory can (a) identify regions of a specific ice-core record that are in need of further analysis and (b) provide some specific guidance for that analysis. A secondary goal is to demonstrate that information theory has practical and scientific utility for studies of past climate. This project aims to use information theory in two distinct ways: first, to identify regions of a core where information appears to be damaged or missing, perhaps due to human and/or machine error. In the segment of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet Divide core that is 5000-8000 years old, for instance, information-theoretic methods reveal significant levels of noise, probably due to a laboratory instrument, and something that was not visible in the raw data. This is a particularly important segment of the record, as it contains valuable clues about climatic shifts and the onset of the Holocene. Targeted re-sampling of this segment of the core and reanalysis with newer laboratory apparatus could resolve the data issues. The second way in which information theory can potentially aid in ice-core analysis is by extracting climate signals from the data--such as the accumulation rate at the core site over the period of its formation. This quantity usually requires significant time and effort to produce, but information theory could help to streamline that process.This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.
Pirrit, John; Hollin, John; Giovineto, Mario; Goldthwait, Richard, P
The PIs have designed and built a new type of rapid access ice drill (RAID) for use in Antarctica. This community tool has the ability to rapidly drill through ice up to 3300 m thick and then collect samples of the ice, ice-sheet bed interface, and bedrock substrate below. This drilling technology will provide a new way to obtain in situ measurements and samples for interdisciplinary studies in geology, glaciology, paleoclimatology, microbiology, and astrophysics. The RAID drilling platform will give the scientific community access to records of geologic and climatic change on a variety of timescales, from the billion-year rock record to million-year ice and climate histories. Development of this platform will enable scientists to address critical questions about the deep interface between the Antarctic ice sheets and the substrate below. Phase I was for design and work with the research community to develop detailed science requirements for the drill. This proposal, Phase II, constructed, assembled and tested the RAID drilling platform at a site near McMurdo (Minna Bluff) where 700-m thick ice sits on bedrock.
This award supports a project to develop a better understanding of the relation between ice microstructure, impurities, and ice flow and their connection to climate history for the West Antarctic Ice Sheet (WAIS) ice core site. This work builds on several ongoing studies at Siple Dome in West Antarctica and Dome C in East Antarctica. It is well known that the microstructure of ice evolves with depth and time in an ice sheet. This evolution of microstructure depends on the ice flow field, temperature, and impurity content. The ice flow field, in turn, depends on microstructure, leading to feedbacks that create layered variation in microstructure that relates to climate and flow history. The research proposed here focuses on developing a better understanding of: 1) how ice microstructure evolves with time and stress in an ice sheet and how that relates to impurity content, temperature, and strain rate; 2) how variations in ice microstructure and impurity content affect ice flow patterns near ice divides (on both small (1cm to 1m) and large (1m to 100km) scales); and 3) in what ways is the spatial variability of ice microstructure and its effect on ice flow important for interpretation of climate history in the WAIS Divide ice core. The study will integrate existing ice core and borehole data with a detailed study of ice microstructure using Electron Backscatter Diffraction (EBSD) techniques and measurements of borehole deformation through time using Acoustic Televiewers. This will be the first study to combine these two novel techniques for studying the relation between microstructure and deformation and it will build on other data being collected as part of other WAIS Divide borehole logging projects (e.g. sonic velocity, optical dust logging, temperature and other measurements on the ice core including fabric measurements from thin section analyses as well as studies of ice chemistry and stable isotopes. The intellectual merit of the work is that it will improve interpretation of ice core data (especially information on past accumulation) and overall understanding of ice flow. The broader impacts are that the work will ultimately contribute to a better interpretation of ice core records for both paleoclimate studies and for ice flow history, both of which connect to the broader questions of the role of ice in the climate system. The work will also advance the careers of two early-career female scientists, including one with a hearing impairment disability. This project will support a PhD student at the UAF and provide research and field experience for two or three undergraduates at Dartmouth. The PIs plan to include a teacher on their field team and collaborate with UAF's "From STEM to STEAM" toward enhancing the connection between art and science.
This award supports a collaborative project that combines air and ground geological-geophysical investigations to understand the tectonic and geological development of the boundary between the Ross Sea Rift and the Marie Byrd Land (MBL) volcanic province. The project will determine the Cenozoic tectonic history of the region and whether Neogene structures that localized outlet glacier flow developed within the context of Cenozoic rifting on the eastern Ross Embayment margin, or within the volcanic province in MBL. The geological structure at the boundary between the Ross Embayment and western MBL may be a result of: 1) Cenozoic extension on the eastern shoulder of the Ross Sea rift; 2) uplift and crustal extension related to Neogene mantle plume activity in western MBL; or a combination of the two. Faulting and volcanism, mountain uplift, and glacier downcutting appear to now be active in western MBL, where generally East-to-West-flowing outlet glaciers incise Paleozoic and Mesozoic bedrock, and deglaciated summits indicate a previous North-South glacial flow direction. This study requires data collection using SOAR (Support Office for Aerogeophysical Research, a facility supported by Office of Polar Programs which utilizes high precision differential GPS to support a laser altimeter, ice-penetrating radar, a towed proton magnetometer, and a Bell BGM-3 gravimeter). This survey requires data for 37,000 square kilometers using 5.3 kilometer line spacing with 15.6 kilometer tie lines, and 86,000 square kilometers using a grid of 10.6 by 10.6 kilometer spacing. Data will be acquired over several key features in the region including, among other, the eastern edge of the Ross Sea rift, over ice stream OEO, the transition from the Edward VII Peninsula plateau to the Ford Ranges, the continuation to the east of a gravity high known from previous reconnaissance mapping over the Fosdick Metamorphic Complex, an d the extent of the high-amplitude magnetic anomalies (volcanic centers?) detected southeast of the northern Ford Ranges by other investigators. SOAR products will include glaciology data useful for studying driving stresses, glacial flow and mass balance in the West Antarctic Ice Sheet (WAIS). The ground program is centered on the southern Ford Ranges. Geologic field mapping will focus on small scale brittle structures for regional kinematic interpretation, on glaciated surfaces and deposits, and on datable volcanic rocks for geochronologic control. The relative significance of fault and joint sets, the timing relationships between them, and the probable context of their formation will also be determined. Exposure ages will be determined for erosion surfaces and moraines. Interpretation of potential field data will be aided by on ground sampling for magnetic properties and density as well as ground based gravity measurements. Oriented samples will be taken for paleomagnetic studies. Combined airborne and ground investigations will obtain basic data for describing the geology and structure at the eastern boundary of the Ross Embayment both in outcrop and ice covered areas, and may be used to distinguish between Ross Sea rift- related structural activity from uplift and faulting on the perimeter of the MBL dome and volcanic province. Outcrop geology and structure will be extrapolated with the aerogeophysical data to infer the geology that resides beneath the WAIS. The new knowledge of Neogene tectonics in western MBL will contribute to a comprehensive model for the Cenozoic Ross rift and to understanding of the extent of plume activity in MBL. Both are important for determining the influence of Neogene tectonics on the ice streams and WAIS.
This award, provided by the Office of Polar Programs under the Life in Extreme Environments (LExEn) Program, supports a geophysical study of Lake Vostok, a large lake beneath the East Antarctic Ice Sheet. <br/><br/>Subglacial ecosystems, in particular subglacial lake ecosystems are extreme oligotrophic environments. These environments, and the ecosystems which may exist within them, should provide key insights into a range of fundamental questions about the development of Earth and other bodies in the Solar System including: 1) the processes associated with rapid evolutionary radiation after the extensive Neoproterozoic glaciations; 2) the overall carbon cycle through glacial and interglacial periods; and 3) the possible adaptations organisms may require to thrive in environments such as on Europa, the ice covered moon of Jupiter. Over 70 subglacial lakes have been identified beneath the 3-4 kilometer thick ice of Antarctica. One lake, Lake Vostok, is sufficiently large to be clearly identified from space with satellite altimetry. Lake Vostok is similar to Lake Ontario in area but with a much larger volume including measured water depths of 600 meters. The overlying ice sheet is acting as a conveyer belt continually delivering new water, nutrients, gas hydrates, sediments and microbes as the ice sheet flows across the lake. <br/><br/>The goal of this program is to determine the fundamental boundary conditions for this subglacial lake as an essential first step toward understanding the physical processes within the lake. An aerogeophysical survey over the lake and into the surrounding regions will be acquired to meet this goal. This data set includes gravity, magnetic, laser altimetry and ice penetrating radar data and will be used to compile a basic set of ice surface elevation, subglacial topography, gravity and magnetic anomaly maps. <br/><br/>Potential field methods widely used in the oil industry will be modified to estimate the subglacial topography from gravity data where the ice penetrating radar will be unable to recover the depth of the lake. A similar method can be modified to estimate the thickness of the sediments beneath the lake from magnetic data. These methods will be tested and applied to subglacial lakes near South Pole prior to the Lake Vostok field campaign and will provide valuable comparisons to the planned survey. Once the methods have been adjusted for the Lake Vostok application, maps of the water cavity and sediment thickness beneath the lake will be produced.<br/><br/>These maps will become tools to explore the geologic origin of the lake. The two endmember models are, first, that the lake is an active tectonic rift such as Lake Baikal and, second, the lake is the result of glacial scouring. The distinct characteristics of an extensional rift can be easily identified with our aerogeophysical survey. The geological interpretation of the airborne geophysical survey will provide the first geological constraints of the interior of the East Antarctic continent based on modern data. In addition, the underlying geology will influence the ecosystem within the lake. <br/><br/>One of the critical issues for the ecosystem within the lake will be the flux of nutrients. A preliminary estimation of the regions of freezing and melting based on the distance between distinctive internal layers observed on the radar data will be made. These basic boundary conditions will provide guidance for a potential international effort aimed at in situ exploration of the lake and improve the understanding of East Antarctic geologic structures.
Continental extension produces a great variety of structures from the linear narrow rifts of the East African Rift to the diffuse extension of the Basin and Range Province of the Western U.S. Rift shoulder uplift varies dramatically between rift flanks. The cause of variable rift width and crustal thinning is fairly well explained by variable initial heat flow and crustal thickness. Mechanical stretching of the lithosphere has been linked to rift shoulder uplift but the cause of variable rift flank uplift remains poorly understood. The Transantarctic Mountains (TAM) are an extreme example of rift flank uplift, extending over 3500 km across Antarctica and reaching elevations up to 4500 m and thus constitute a unique feature of EarthOs crust. The range was formed in the extensional environment associated with the Mesozoic and Cenozoic breakup of Gondwanaland. Geological and geophysical work has shown that the TAM developed along the long-lived lithospheric boundary between East and West Antarctica reactivated by a complex history of extensional and translational microplate motions. The TAM are not uniform along strike. Along the OWilkes FrontO, the northern segment of the rift extends from North Victoria Land to Byrd Glacier. The Wilkes Front architecture consists of (1) thin, extended crust forming the Victoria Land Basin in the Ross Sea, (2) the TAM rift shoulder, and (3) a long-wavelength down- ward forming the Wilkes Basin. Contrasting structures are mapped along the OPensacola/PoleO Front, the southern segment of the rift extending from the Nimrod Glacier to the Pensacola Mountains. Along this southern section no rift basin has been mapped to date and the down-ward along the East Antarctic, or ObacksideO, edge of the mountains is less pronounced. A flexural model linking the extension in the Ross Sea to the formation of both the mountains and the Wilkes Basin has been considered as a me chanism for uplift of the entire mountain range. The variability in fundamental architecture along the TAM indicates that neither a single event nor a sequence of identical events produced the rift flank uplift. The observation of variable architecture suggests complex mechanisms and possibly a fundamental limitation in maximum sustainable rift flank elevation. The motivation for studying the TAM is to try to understand the geodynamics of this extreme elevation rift flank. Are the geodynamics of the area unique, or does the history of glaciation and related erosion contribute to the extreme uplift? With the existing data sets it is difficult to confidently constrain the geological architecture across representative sections of the TAM. Any effort to refine geodynamic mechanisms requires this basic understanding of the TAM architecture. The goal of this project is to (1) constrain the architecture of the rift system as well as the distribution and structure of sedimentary basins, glacial erosion and mafic igneous rocks surrounding the rift flank by acquiring three long wavelength geophysical transects with integrated gravity, magnetics, ice- penetrating radar, and ice surface measurements, (2) quantify the contribution of various geodynamic mechanisms to understand the geological conditions which can lead to extreme rift flank uplift, and (3) use the improved understanding of architecture and geophysical data to test geodynamic models in order to improve our understanding both of the TAM geodynamics and the general problem of the geodynamics of rift flank uplift worldwide. This project will allow development of a generalized framework for understanding the development of rift flank uplift as well as address the question of the specific geodynamic evolution of the TAM.
This award supports a project to conduct an integrated geophysical survey over a large portion of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet (WAIS) toward an understanding of the dynamic behavior of the ice sheet and the nature of the lithosphere beneath the ice sheet. West Antarctica is characterized by two kinds of the Earth s most dynamic systems, a continental rift (the West Antarctic Rift System) and a marine based ice sheet (the WAIS). Active continental rift systems, caused by divergent plate motions, result in thinned continental crust. Associated with the thin crust are fault-bounded sedimentary basins, active volcanism, and elevated heat flow. Marine ice sheets are characterized by rapidly moving streams of ice, penetrating and draining a slowly moving ice reservoir. Evidence left by past marine ice sheets indicates that they may have a strongly non- linear response to long-term climate change which results in massive and rapid discharges of ice. Understanding the evolution of the ice stream system and its interaction with the interior ice is the key to understanding this non-linear response. Subglacial geology and ice dynamics are generally studied in isolation, but evidence is mounting that the behavior of the West Antarctic ice streams may be closely linked to the nature of the underlying West Antarctic rift system. The fast moving ice streams appear to glide on a lubricating layer of water-saturated till. This till requires easily eroded sediment and a source of water, both of which may be controlled by the geology of the rift system; the sediments from the fault-bounded basins and the water from the elevated heat flux associated with active lithospheric extension. This project represents an interdisciplinary aerogeophysical study to characterize the lithosphere of the West Antarctic rift system beneath critical regions of the WAIS. The objective is to determine the effects of the rift architect ure, as manifested by the distribution of sedimentary basins and volcanic constructs, on the ice stream system. The research tool is a unique geophysical aircraft with laser altimetry, ice penetrating radar, aerogravity, and aeromagnetic systems integrated with a high precision kinematic GPS navigation system. It is capable of imaging both the surface and bed of the ice sheet while simultaneously measuring the gravity and magnetic signature of the subglacial lithosphere. Work to be done under this award will build on work already completed in the southern sector of central West Antarctica and it will focus on the region of the Byrd Subglacial Basin and Ice Stream D. The ice sheet in these regions is completely covered by satellite imagery and so this project will be integrated with remote sensing studies of the ice stream. The changing dynamics of Ice Stream D, as with other West Antarctic ice streams, seem to be correlated with changes in the morphological provinces of the underlying rift system. The experimental targets proceed from the divide of the interior ice, downstream through the onset of streaming to the trunk of Ice Stream D. This study will be coordinated with surface glaciological investigations of Ice Stream D and will be used to guide cooperative over-snow seismic investigations of the central West Antarctic rift system. The data will also be used to select a site for future deep ice coring along the crest of the WAIS. These data represent baseline data for long term global change monitoring work and represent crucial boundary conditions for ice sheet modeling efforts.
The goal of this project is to develop a Web-based Antarctic gravity database to globally facilitate scientific use of gravity data in Antarctic studies. This compilation will provide an important new tool to the Antarctic Earth science community from the geologist placing field observations in a regional context to the seismologist studying continental scale mantle structure. The gravity database will complement the parallel projects underway to develop new continental bedrock (BEDMAP) and magnetic (ADMAP) maps of Antarctica. An international effort will parallel these ongoing projects in contacting the Antarctic geophysical community, identifying existing data sets, agreeing upon protocols for the use of data contributed to the database and finally assembling a new continental scale gravity map. The project has three principal stages. The first stage will be to investigate the accuracy and resolution of currently available high resolution satellite derived gravity data and quantify spatial variations in both accuracy and resolution. The second stage of this project will be to develop an interactive method of accessing existing satellite, shipboard, land based, and airborne gravity data via a Web based interface. The Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory RIDGE Multi-beam bathymetry database will be used as a template for this project. The existing online RIDGE database allows users to access the raw data, the gridded data and raster images of the seafloor topography. A similar structure will be produced for the existing Antarctic gravity data. The third stage of this project will be to develop an international program to compile existing gravity data south of 60°S. This project will be discussed with leaders of both the ADMAP and BEDMAP efforts and the appropriate working groups of SCAR. A preliminary map of existing gravity data will be presented at the Antarctic Earth Science meeting in Wellington in 1999. A gravity working group meeting will be held in conjunction with the Wellington meeting to reach a consensus on the protocols for placing data into the database. By the completion of the project, existing gravity data will be identified and international protocols for placing this data in the on-line database will have been defined. The process of archiving the gravity data into the database will be an ongoing project as additional data become available.
Antarctic notothenioid fishes exhibit two adaptive traits to survive in frigid temperatures. The first of these is the production of anti-freeze proteins in their blood and tissues. The second is a system-wide ability to perform cellular and physiological functions at extremely cold temperatures.The proposal goals are to show how Antarctic fishes use these characteristics to avoid freezing, and which additional genes are turned on, or suppressed in order for these fishes to maintain normal physiological function in extreme cold temperatures. Progressively colder habitats are encountered in the high latitude McMurdo Sound and Ross Shelf region, along with somewhat milder near?shore water environments in the Western Antarctic Peninsula (WAP). By quantifying the extent of ice crystals invading and lodging in the spleen, the percentage of McMurdo Sound fish during austral summer (Oct-Feb) will be compared to the WAP intertidal fish during austral winter (Jul-Sep) to demonstrate their capability and extent of freeze avoidance. Resistance to ice entry in surface epithelia (e.g. skin, gill and intestinal lining) is another expression of the adaptation of these fish to otherwise lethally freezing conditions.<br/><br/>The adaptive nature of a uniquely characteristic polar genome will be explored by the study of the transcriptome (the set of expressed RNA transcripts that constitutes the precursor to set of proteins expressed by an entire genome). Three notothenioid species (E.maclovinus, D. Mawsoni and C. aceratus) will be analysed to document evolutionary genetic changes (both gain and loss) shaped by life under extreme chronic cold. A differential gene expression (DGE) study will be carried out on these different species to evaluate evolutionary modification of tissue-wide response to heat challenges. The transcriptomes and other sequencing libraries will contribute to de novo ice-fish genome sequencing efforts.
The goal of this project is to understand the drivers of pair disruption and quantify its resulting effects on individual fitness components and population growth rate and structure for two procellariiformes breeding in the Southern Ocean: the wandering albatross and the snow petrel, which both form long-lasting pair bonds. The mechanisms of pair disruption may be contrasted between these species, as pair disruption in wandering albatross may occur with the death of a partner by incidental by-catch in fisheries, while in snow petrels it may occur through divorce and climate-related conditions. Unique long-term individual mark-recapture data sets exist for these iconic polar species, allowing for a comprehensive study of the rates, causes and consequences of pair disruption and how they differ among species.
This study will result in the most detailed analysis to date of the impact of social monogamy and long-term pair bonds on individual fitness components (vital rates: survival, recruitment and fecundity; life-history outcomes: life expectancy, age at 1st breeding and lifetime reproductive success; and occupancy times: duration of pair bond or widowhood) and population growth and structure (e.g, sex ratio of individuals available for mating). Specifically, the investigators will assess:
1. Variations in pair disruption rates, and if they are related to global change (by-catch in the case of albatross widowing, and climate in the case of petrel divorce) by developing a state-of-the-art statistical multievent mark-recapture model.
2. Impacts of pair disruption on vital rates, specifically whether i) greater familiarity and better coordination within pairs improves breeding performance and survival, ii) mating costs reduce the probability of breeding and iii) divorce is more likely to occur after a breeding failure.
3. Impacts of pair disruption on life-history outcomes and occupancy times using Markov chain stochastic life cycle models.
4. Impacts of pair disruption on population dynamics by developing a novel non-linear two-sex matrix population model.
The investigators will develop novel sensitivity and Life Table Response Experiment analyses to examine the respective effects of fisheries, climate, vital rates, and pair-disruption rates on life-history outcomes, occupancy times, and population growth and structure, and their variations among year and species.
In the past, Earth's climate underwent dramatic changes that influenced physical, chemical, geological, and biological processes on a global scale. Such changes left an imprint in Earth's atmosphere, as shown by the variability in abundances of trace gases like carbon dioxide and methane. In return, changes in the atmospheric trace gas composition affected Earth's climate. Studying compositional variations of the past atmosphere helps us understand the history of interactions between global biogeochemical cycles and Earth?s climate. The most reliable information on past atmospheric composition comes from analysis of air entrapped in polar ice cores. This project aims to generate ice-core records of relatively short-lived, very-low-abundance trace gases to determine the range of past variability in their atmospheric levels and investigate the changes in global biogeochemical cycles that caused this variability. This project measures three such gases: carbonyl sulfide, methyl chloride, and methyl bromide. Changes in carbonyl sulfide can indicate changes in primary productivity and photosynthetic update of carbon dioxide. Changes in methyl chloride and methyl bromide significantly impact natural variability in stratospheric ozone. In addition, the processes that control atmospheric levels of methyl chloride and methyl bromide are shared with those controlling levels of atmospheric methane. The measurements will be made in the new ice core from the South Pole, which is expected to provide a 40,000-year record.<br/><br/>The primary focus of this project is to develop high-quality trace gas records for the entire Holocene period (the past 11,000 years), with additional, more exploratory measurements from the last glacial period including the period from 29,000-36,000 years ago when there were large changes in atmospheric methane. Due to the cold temperatures of the South Pole ice, the proposed carbonyl sulfide measurements are expected to provide a direct measure of the past atmospheric variability of this gas without the large hydrolysis corrections that are necessary for interpretation of measurements from ice cores in warmer settings. Furthermore, we will test the expectation that contemporaneous measurements from the last glacial period in the deep West Antarctic Ice Sheet Divide ice core will not require hydrolysis loss corrections. With respect to methyl chloride, we aim to verify and improve the existing Holocene atmospheric history from the Taylor Dome ice core in Antarctica. The higher resolution of our measurements compared with those from Taylor Dome will allow us to derive a more statistically significant relationship between methyl chloride and methane. With respect to methyl bromide, we plan to extend the existing 2,000-year database to 11,000 years. Together, the methyl bromide and methyl chloride records will provide strong measurement-based constraints on the natural variability of stratospheric halogens during the Holocene period. In addition, the methyl bromide record will provide insight into the correlation between methyl chloride and methane during the Holocene period due to common sources and sinks.
Melting of snow and ice at the surface of the Antarctic ice sheet can lead to the formation of meltwater lakes, an important precursor to ice-shelf collapse and accelerated ice-sheet mass loss. Understanding the present state of Antarctic surface melt provides a baseline to gauge how quickly melt impacts could evolve in the future and to reduce uncertainties in estimates of future sea-level rise. This project will use a suite of complimentary measurements from Earth-observing satellites, ground observations, and numerical climate and ice-shelf models to enhance understanding of surface melt and lakes, as well as the processes linking these systems. The project directly supports the scientific training of a postdoctoral associate and several undergraduate researchers. In addition, it will promote public scientific literacy and the broadening of quantitative skills for high-school students through the development and implementation of an educational unit in a partnership with an education and outreach expert and two high school teachers.<br/><br/>Accurate prediction of sea-level contributions from Antarctica critically requires understanding current melting and supraglacial lake conditions. This project will quantify Antarctic surface melt and supraglacial lakes, and the linkages between the two phenomena. Scatterometer data will enable generation of a 19-year multi-sensor melt time series. Synthetic aperture radar data will document melt conditions across all Antarctic ice shelves at the highest spatial resolution to date (40 m). Multispectral satellite imagery will be used to delineate and measure the depth of supraglacial lakes--for the first time studying the spatial and temporal variations of Antarctic supraglacial lakes. Melt and lake observations will be compared to identify agreement and disagreement. Melt observations will be used to evaluate biases in a widely used, reanalysis-driven, regional climate model. This model will then be used to examine climatic and glaciological variables associated with supraglacial lakes. Finally, in situ observations and climate model output will drive a numerical model that simulates the entire lifecycle of surface melt and possible subsequent lake formation.
Understanding how groups of organisms respond to climate change is fundamentally important to assessing the impacts of human activities as well as understanding how past climatic shifts have shaped biological diversity over deep stretches of time. The fishes occupying the near-shore marine habitats around Antarctica are dominated by one group of closely related species called notothenioids. It appears dramatic changes in Antarctic climate were important in the origin and evolutionary diversification of this economically important lineage of fishes. Deposits of fossil fishes in Antarctica that were formed when the continent was experiencing milder temperatures show that the area was home to a much more diverse array of fish lineages. Today the waters of the Southern Ocean are very cold, and often below freezing, but notothenioids fishes exhibit a number of adaptions to live in this harsh set of marine habitats, including the presence of anti-freeze proteins. This research project will collect DNA sequences from hundreds of genes to infer the genealogical relationships of nearly all 124 notothenioid species, and use mathematical techniques to estimate the ages of species and lineages. Knowledge on the timing of evolutionary divergence in notothenioids will allow investigators to assess if timing of previous major climatic shifts in Antarctica are correlated with key events in the formation of the modern Southern Ocean fish fauna. The project will also further the NSF goals of making scientific discoveries available to the general public and of training new generations of scientists. The project will support educational outreach activities to teenager groups and to the general public through a natural history museum exhibit and other public lectures. It will provide professional training opportunities for graduate students and a postdoctoral research scholar. <br/><br/>Adaptive radiation, where lineages experience high rates of evolutionary diversification coincident with ecological divergence, is mostly studied in island ecosystems. Notothenioids dominate the fish fauna of the Southern Ocean and exhibit antifreeze glycoproteins that allow occupation of the subzero waters. Notothenioids are noted as one of the only examples of adaptive radiation among marine fishes, but the evolutionary history of diversification and radiation into different ecological habitats is poorly understood. This research will generate a species phylogeny (evolutionary history) for nearly all of the 124 recognized notothenioid species to investigate the mechanisms of adaptive radiation in this lineage. The phylogeny is inferred from approximately 350 genes sampled using next generation DNA sequencing and related techniques. Morphometric data are taken for museum specimens to investigate the tempo of morphological diversification and to determine if there are correlations between rates of lineage diversification and the origin of morphological disparity. The patterns of lineage, morphological, and ecological diversification in the notothenioid radiation will be compared to the paleoclimatic record to determine if past instances of global climate change have shaped the evolutionary diversification of this lineage of polar-adapted fishes.
Terra Nova Bay (western Ross Sea, Antarctica) supports dense populations of several key species in the Ross Sea food web, including copepods, crystal krill (Euphausia crystallorophias), Antarctic silverfish (Pleuragramma antarcticum), and colonies of Adélie and Emperor penguins that feed primarily on crystal krill and silverfish. Absent from our understanding of the Ross Sea food web is zooplankton and silverfish mesoscale distribution, spatial structure of age/maturity classes, and their interactions with physical drivers and each other. The quantitative linkages between primary producers and the higher trophic levels, specifically, the processes responsible for the regulation of abundance and rates of middle trophic levels dominated by copepods and crystal krill (Euphausia crystallorophias), is virtually unknown. Given that the next century will see extensive changes in the Ross Sea’s ice distributions and oceanography as a result of climate change, understanding the basic controls of zooplankton and silverfish abundance and distribution is essential.
During a January – March 2018 cruise in the western Ross Sea, we deployed a glider equipped with an echo sounder (Acoustic Zooplankton Fish Profiler) that simultaneously measured depth, temperature, conductivity, chlorophyll fluorescence, and dissolved oxygen. Additionally, net tows, mid-water trawls, and crystal krill grazing experiments were conducted. Our study provided the first glider-based acoustic assessment of simultaneous distributions of multiple trophic levels in the Ross Sea, from which predator-prey interactions and the relationships between organisms and physics drivers (sea ice, circulation features) were investigated. We illustrated high variability in ocean physics, phytoplankton biomass, and crystal krill biomass and aggregation over time and between locations within Terra Nova Bay. Biomass of krill was highest in locations characterized by deeper mixed layers and highest integrated chlorophyll concentrations. Krill aggregations were consistently located at depth well below the mixed layer and chlorophyll maximum. Experiments investigating krill grazing, in combination with krill depth distributions relative to chlorophyll biomass, illuminate high krill grazing rates could be attributed to the occupation of a unique niche whereby they are opportunistically feeding on sinking high concentrations of detritus derived from surface blooms. The information on the abundance, distribution, and interactions of key species in multiple trophic levels resulting from this project provide a conceptual background to understand how this ecosystem might respond to future conditions under climate change.
Our project tested the capability of a multi-frequency echo sounder on a glider for the first time. The production of consistent, vertically-resolved, high resolution glider-based acoustic measurements will pave the way for cost-effective, automated examination of entire food webs and ecosystems in regions all over the global ocean. A wide range of users including academic and government scientists, ecosystem-based fisheries managers, and monitoring programs including those conducted by OOI, IOOS, and NOAA will benefit from this project. This project also provided the opportunity to focus on broadening participation in research and articulating the societal benefits through education and innovative outreach programs. A data set from this project is being included in the new NSF-funded Polar CAP initiative, that will be used by a diverse and young audience to increase understanding of the polar system and the ability to reason with data. Finally, this project provided a unique field opportunity and excellent hand-on training for a post-doctoral researcher, a graduate student, and two undergraduate students.
microRNAs (miRNAs) are key post-transcriptional regulators of gene expression that modulate development and physiology in temperate animals. Although miRNAs act by binding to messenger RNAs (mRNAs), a process that is strongly sensitive to temperature, miRNAs have yet not been studied in Antarctic animals, including Notothenioid fish, which dominate the Southern Ocean. This project will compare miRNA regulation in 1) Antarctic vs. temperate fish to learn the roles of miRNA regulation in adaptation to constant cold; and in 2) bottom-dwelling, dense-boned, red-blooded Nototheniods vs. high buoyancy, osteopenic, white-blooded icefish to understand miRNA regulation in specialized organs after the evolution of the loss of hemoglobin genes and red blood cells, the origin of enlarged heart and vasculature, and the evolution of increased buoyancy, which arose by decreased bone mineralization and increased lipid deposition. Aim 1 is to test the hypothesis that Antarctic fish evolved miRNA-related genome specializations in response to constant cold. The project will compare four Antarctic Notothenioid species to two temperate Notothenioids and two temperate laboratory species to test the hypotheses that (a) Antarctic fish evolved miRNA genome repertoires by loss of ancestral genes and/or gain of new genes, (b) express miRNAs that are involved in cold tolerance, and (c) respond to temperature change by changing miRNA gene expression. Aim 2 is to test the hypothesis that the evolution of icefish from red-blooded bottom-dwelling ancestors was accompanied by an altered miRNA genomic repertoire, sequence, and/or expression. The project will test the hypotheses that (a) miRNAs in icefish evolved in sequence and/or in expression in icefish specializations, including head kidney (origin of red blood cells); heart (changes in vascular system), cranium and pectoral girdle (reduced bone mineral density); and skeletal muscle (lipid deposition), and (b) miRNAs that evolved in icefish specializations had ancestral functions related to their derived roles in icefish, as determined by functional tests of zebrafish orthologs of icefish miRNAs in developing zebrafish. The program will isolate, sequence, and determine the expression of miRNAs and mRNAs using high-throughput transcriptomics and novel software. Results will show how the microRNA system evolves in vertebrate animals pushed to physiological extremes and provide insights into the prospects of key species in the most rapidly warming part of the globe.
The ocean surrounding Antarctica is home to an extraordinary assemblage of fishes, dominated by a single group that are extremely well-suited to life in icy waters and which are of significant ecological importance there. Of great concern is the capacity of these fishes to withstand increases in temperature as the region of the Western Antarctic Peninsula warms at a rate faster than any other area in the Southern hemisphere. One particular group of Antarctic fishes, known as the icefishes, are particularly vulnerable to increases in temperature because unlike all other vertebrates on earth, icefishes are white-blooded due to their lack of the oxygen-binding protein hemoglobin. This greatly reduces their capacity to transport and deliver oxygen to tissues compared to red-blooded Antarctic fishes. Previous studies have shown that icefishes are indeed less tolerant to elevations in temperature but the underlying factors are completely unknown. Additionally, it is not understood if red- or white-blooded Antarctic fishes can adjust, or acclimate, to modest increases in temperature, similar to those changes in temperature the animals might experience as the earth warms. The investigators will determine if heart function and/or nervous system function limits thermal tolerance of Antarctic fishes, and will determine their capacity to acclimate to warmer temperatures. The project will further the NSF goal of training new generations of scientists by training graduate and undergraduate students. In addition, the project will collaborate with a high school biology teacher from a school which serves a largely minority student body. The students will learn about the marine environment, and will construct a camera to be used in the field to learn more about Antarctic fishes. Two students and the teacher will also attend a summer marine biology internship program.<br/><br/>Antarctic fishes within the suborder Notothenioidei (called "notothenioids") are among the organisms on earth least able to deal with changes in temperature. The hemoglobinless icefish are even less able to withstand temperature changes than are red-blooded notothenioids. While this is well documented, the underlying physiological and biochemical mechanisms responsible are unknown. The investigators will test the hypotheses that cardiac work is significantly greater in icefishes compared to red-blooded species, and that as temperature increases, the greater cardiac work of icefishes, coupled with reduced blood oxygen-carrying capacity, results in cardiac failure at a lower temperature compared to red-blooded species. They also hypothesize that neuronal function limits thermal tolerance of red-blooded notothenioids. These hypotheses will be tested using a wide variety of experiments. For example, the investigators will measure heart rate concurrently with critical thermal maximum. They will also characterize metabolic and gene-expression responses to elevated temperature and determine if mitochondrial function contributes to thermal tolerance using a variety of techniques. To determine if neuronal function limits thermal tolerance they will quantify behavioral responses to warming of whole animals and to warming of only the brain area. They will also determine if acclimation to warmer temperatures impacts heart function and they will measure activities of a variety of enzymes from central metabolic pathways.
The rise in atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations and associated climate changes make understanding the role of the ocean in large scale carbon cycle a priority. Geologic samples allow exploration of potential mechanisms for carbon dioxide drawdown during glacial periods through the use of geochemical proxies. Nitrogen and silicon isotope signatures from fossil diatoms (microscopic plants) are used to investigate changes in the physical supply and biological demand for nutrients (like nitrogen and silicon and carbon) in the Southern Ocean. The project will evaluate the use the nitrogen and silicon isotope proxies through a series of laboratory experiments and Southern Ocean field sampling. The results will provide quantification of real relationships between nitrogen and silicon isotopes and nutrient usage in the Southern Ocean and allow exploration of the role of other factors, including biological diversity, ice cover, and mixing, in altering the chemical signatures recorded by diatoms. Seafloor sediment samples will be used to evaluate how well the signal created in the water column is recorded by fossil diatoms buried in the seafloor. Improving the nutrient isotope proxies will allow for a more quantitative understanding of the role of polar biology in regulating natural variation in atmospheric carbon dioxide. The project will also result in the training of a graduate student and development of outreach materials targeting a broad popular audience.
This project seeks to test the fidelity of the diatom nitrogen and silicon isotope proxies, two commonly used paleoceanographic tools for investigating the role of the Southern Ocean biological pump in regulating atmospheric CO2 concentrations on glacial-interglacial timescales. Existing ground-truthing data, including culture experiments, surface sediment data and downcore reconstructions, all suggest that nutrient utilization is the primary driver of isotopic variation in the Southern Ocean. However, strong contribution of interspecific variation is implied by recent culture results. Moreover, field and laboratory studies present some contradictory results in terms of the relative importance of interspecific variation and of inferred post-depositional alteration of the nutrient isotope signals. Here, a first order test of the N and Si diatom nutrient isotope paleo-proxies, involving water column dissolved and particulate sampling and laboratory culturing of field-isolates, is proposed. Southern Ocean water, biomass, live diatoms and fossil diatom sampling will be conducted to investigate species and assemblage related variability in diatom nitrogen and silicon isotopes and their relationship to surface nutrient fields and early diagenesis. Access to fresh materials produced in an analogous environmental context to the sediments of primary interest is critical for making robust paleoceanographic reconstructions. Field sampling will occur along 175°W, transecting the Antarctic Circumpolar Current from the subtropics to the marginal ice edge. Collection of water, sinking/suspended particles and multi-core samples from 13 stations and 3 shipboard incubation experiments will be used to test four proposed hypotheses that together evaluate the significance of existing culture results and seek to allow the best use of diatom nutrient isotope proxies in evaluating the biological pump.
The research seeks to further quantify the input of atmospheric Fe into the sparsely sampled Southern Ocean (SO), specifically in the vicinity of the West Antarctic Peninsula (WAP) and adjacent continental shelf waters in the Drake Passage. This is typically a high nutrient low chlorophyll region where surface trace metal and primary productivity data are suggestive of Fe limitation. The WAP is characterized by high productivity in the austral summer, and at this time may be in the path of northern dust (aeolian Fe) input or subject to melt influx of elevated Fe accumulated from glacial and present-day sea ice sources.<br/><br/>Primary scientific questions are: (1) to what extent does atmospheric Fe contribute to nutrient cycles and ecosystem dynamics in the SO? (2) How is warming climate occurring in the WAP affecting the aerosol composition of the maritime atmosphere. The primary productivity of the Southern Ocean is key to understanding oceanic uptake of anthropogenic greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide.
The depths at which magmas are stored, their pre-eruptive volatile contents, and the rates at which they ascend to the Earth's surface are important controls on the dynamics of volcanic eruptions. Basaltic magmas are likely to be vapor undersaturated as they begin their ascent from the mantle through the crust, but volatile solubility drops with decreasing pressure. Once vapor saturation is achieved and the magma begins to degas, its pre-eruptive volatile content is determined largely by the depth at which it resides within the crust. Magma stored in deeper reservoirs tend to experience less pre-eruptive degassing and to be richer in volatiles than magma shallower reservoirs. Eruptive style is influenced by the rate at which a magma ascends from the reservoir to the surface through its effect on the efficiency of vapor bubble nucleation, growth, and coalescence. The proposed work will advance our understanding of pre-eruptive storage conditions and syn-eruptive ascent rates through a combined field and analytical research program. Volatile measurements from olivine-hosted melt inclusions will be used to systematically investigate magma storage depths and ascent rates associated with alkaline volcanism in the Erebus volcanic province. A central goal of the project is to provide a spatial and temporal framework for interpreting results from studies of present-day volcanic processes at Mt Erebus volcano. The Erebus volcanic province of Antarctica is especially well suited to this type of investigation because: (1) there are many exposed mafic scoria cones, fissure vents, and hyaloclastites (exposed in sea cliffs) that produced rapidly quenched, olivine-rich tephra; (2) existing volatile data for Ross Island MIs show that magma storage was relatively deep compared to many mafic volcanic systems; (3) some of the eruptive centers ejected mantle xenoliths, allowing for comparison of ascent rates for xenolith-bearing and xenolith-free eruptions, and comparison of ascent rates for those bearing xenoliths with times estimated from settling velocities; and (4) the cold, dry conditions in Antarctica result in excellent tephra preservation compared to tropical and even many temperate localities. The project provides new tools for assessing volcanic hazards, facilitates collaboration involving researchers from three different institutions (WHOI, U Wyoming, and U Oregon), supports the researchers' involvement in teaching, advising, and outreach, and provides an educational opportunity for a promising young postdoctoral researcher. Understanding the interrelationships among magma volatile contents, reservoir depths, and ascent rates is vital for assessing volcanic hazards associated with alkaline volcanism across the globe.
This dataset comprises new photographs and measurements of a WAIS Divide vertical thin section, WDC-06A 420 VTS, previously prepared and measured by J. Fitzpatrick, D. E. Voigt, and R. Alley (dataset DOI: 10.7265/N5W093VM; http://www.usap-dc.org/view/dataset/609605) as part of a larger study of the WAIS Divide ice core (Fitzpatrick, J. et al, 2014, Physical properties of the WAIS Divide ice core, Journal of Glaciology, 60, 224, 1181-1198. (doi:10.3189/2014JoG14J100). These images were taken as a design test of our new automated lightweight c-axis analyzer, dubbed ALPACA, which implements the ice fabric analysis functionality of the Wilen system used by Fitzpatrick et al. in an easily-portable, field-deployable form factor.
This project developed sediment provenance proxies to trace the sources of sediment discharged by the WAIS to the continental rise. The WAIS erodes sediments from various West Antarctic geologic terranes that are deposited in adjacent drift sites. The geochemistry and magnetic properties of drift sediments reflect the tectono-metamorphic history of their source terranes. Deglaciation of a terrane during WAIS collapse should be detectable by the loss of the terrane’s geochemical and magnetic signature in continental-rise detrital sediments. Continental shelf late-Holocene sediments from near the current WAIS groundling line were analyzed for silt- and claysize Sr-Nd-Pb isotopes and major-trace elements. The suite of cores spans from the eastern Ross Sea to the northern tip of the Antarctic Peninsula and established the provenance signatures of the Ross and Amundsen Provinces of Marie Byrd Land, Pine Island Bay, Thurston Island/Eight Coast Block, Ellsworth-Whitmore Crustal Block, and Antarctic Peninsula terranes. Many of these terranes have similar tectono-metamorphic histories but Sr-Nd isotope data from detrital sediments suggest at least 3 distinct provenance signatures. This comprehensive grain-size-specific provenance data adds to on-going collection of glacial till mineral and bulk provenance data. An initial down core study of Ocean Drilling Program Site 1096 in the Bellingshausen Sea was used to assess the utility of these new grain-size-specific provenance proxies in documenting WAIS collapse. We found the presence of both the WAIS and APIS over the last 115,000 years, but absence of the WAIS before 115,000 years ago. This means that the WAIS was gone during the last interglacial period, an interval when sea level was at least 6 meters above present.
Intellectual Merit: <br/>Opening of Drake Passage and the West Scotia Sea south of Tierra del Fuego broke the final continental barrier to onset of a complete Antarctic Circumpolar Current (ACC). Initiation of the ACC has been associated in time with a major, abrupt, drop in global temperatures and the rapid expansion of the Antarctic ice sheets at 33-34 Ma. Events leading to the formation of the Drake Passage gateway are poorly known. Understanding the tectonic evolution of the floor of the Central Scotia Sea (CSS) and the North Scotia Ridge is a key to this understanding. Previous work has demonstrated that superimposed constructs formed a volcanic arc that likely blocked direct eastward flow from the Pacific to the Atlantic through the opening Drake Passage gateway as the active South Sandwich arc does today. The PIs propose a cruise to test, develop and refine, with further targeted mapping and dredging, their theory of CSS tectonics and the influence it had on the onset and development of the ACC. In addition they propose an installation of GPS receiver to test their paleogeographic reconstructions and determine whether South Georgia is moving as part of the South American plate. <br/><br/>Broader impacts: <br/>A graduate student will be involved in all stages of the research. Undergraduate students will also be involved as watch-standers. A community college teacher will participate in the cruise. The PIs will have a website on which there will be images of the actual ocean floor dredging in operation. The teacher will participate with web and outreach support through PolarTREC. Results of the cruise are of broad interest to paleoceanographers, paleoclimate modelers and paleobiogeographers.A network of four continuous Global Navigational Satellite Systems (GNSS) receivers was installed on the bedrock of South Georgia in the Southern Ocean in 2013 and 2014. An additional receiver on a concrete foundation provides a tie to a tide gauge, part of the United Kingdom South Atlantic Tide Gauge Network. The GNSS receivers have already provided data suggesting that the South Georgia microcontinent (SGM) is moving independent of both the South American plate to the north and the Scotia plate to the south. The data also demonstrate that the SGM is being uplifted.
Considerable uncertainty remains in projections of future ice loss from West Antarctica. A recent decadal style U.S. National Academy of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine report entitled: A Strategic Vision for NSF Investments in Antarctic and Southern Ocean Research (2015) identifies changing ice in Antarctica as one of the highest priority science problems facing communities around the globe. The report identifies Thwaites Glacier as a target for collaborative intense research efforts in the coming years. This project contributes to that effort by deploying an instrument on board airborne surveys that will help to constrain the unknown terrains beneath the Thwaites Ice Shelf and in the region of the grounding line where the inland ice goes afloat. By improving the accuracy and resolution of these data, which are fed into predictive numerical models, the team will help to constrain the magnitude and rate of increase in the contribution of ice from Thwaites Glacier to the global ocean.<br/><br/>The team will enhance the capabilities of the already planned British Antarctic Survey aerogeophysics survey of Thwaites Glacier during the 2018/19 field season. Their Inertial Measurement Unit will be paired with a state-of-the-art commercial gravity meter to acquire high-quality and significantly enhanced resolution data both over the ice shelf and at the grounding line. Data will be processed immediately following collection and raw and observed data will be released six months after collection.<br/><br/>This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.
Current oceanographic interest in the interaction of relatively warm water of the Southern Ocean Circumpolar Deep Water (CDW) as it moves southward to the frigid waters of the Antarctic continental shelves is based on the potential importance of heat transport from the global ocean to the base of continental ice shelves. This is needed to understand the longer term mass balance of the continent, the stability of the vast Antarctic ice sheets and the rate at which sea-level will rise in a warming world. Improved observational knowledge of the mechanisms of how warming CDW moves across the Antarctic Circumpolar Current (ACC) is needed. Understanding this dynamical transport, believed to take place through the eddy flux of time-varying mesoscale circulation features, will improve coupled ocean-atmospheric climate models. The development of the next generation of coupled ocean-ice-climate models help us understand future changes in atmospheric heat fluxes, glacial and sea-ice balance, and changes in the Antarctic ecosystems. A recurring obstacle to our understanding is the lack of data in this distant region. In this project, a total of 10 subsurface profiling EM-APEX floats adapted to operate under sea ice were launched in 12 missions (and 2 recoveries) from 4 cruises of opportunity to the Amundsen Sea sector of the Antarctic continental margin during Austral summer. The floats were launched south of the Polar Front and measured shear, turbulence, temperature, and salinity to 2000m depth for 1-2 year missions while drifting with the CDW layer between profiles.
Antarctic fish and their early developmental stages are an important component of the food web that sustains life in the cold Southern Ocean (SO) that surrounds Antarctica. They feed on smaller organisms and in turn are eaten by larger animals, including seals and killer whales. Little is known about how rising ocean temperatures will impact the development of Antarctic fish embryos and their growth after hatching. This project will address this gap by assessing the effects of elevated temperatures on embryo viability, on the rate of embryo development, and on the gene "toolkits" that respond to temperature stress. One of the two species to be studied does not produce red blood cells, a defect that may make its embryos particularly vulnerable to heat. The outcomes of this research will provide the public and policymakers with "real world" data that are necessary to inform decisions and design strategies to cope with changes in the Earth's climate, particularly with respect to protecting life in the SO. The project will also further the NSF goals of training new generations of scientists, including providing scientific training for undergraduate and graduate students, and of making scientific discoveries available to the general public. This includes the unique educational opportunity for undergraduates to participate in research in Antarctica and engaging the public in several ways, including the development of professionally-produced educational videos with bi-lingual
Since the onset of cooling of the SO about 40 million years ago, evolution of Antarctic marine organisms has been driven by the development of cold temperatures. Because body temperatures of Antarctic fishes fall in a narrow range determined by their habitat (-1.9 to +2.0 C), they are particularly attractive models for understanding how organismal physiology and biochemistry have been shaped to maintain life in a cooling environment. Yet these fishes are now threatened by rapid warming of the SO. The long-term objective of this project is to understand the capacities of Antarctic fishes to acclimatize and/or adapt to oceanic warming through analysis of their underlying genetic "toolkits." This objective will be accomplished through three Specific Aims: 1) assessing the effects of elevated temperatures on gene expression during development of embryos; 2) examining the effects of elevated temperatures on embryonic morphology and on the temporal and spatial patterns of gene expression; and 3) evaluating the evolutionary mechanisms that have led to the loss of the red blood cell genetic program by the white-blooded fishes. Aims 1 and 2 will be investigated by acclimating experimental embryos of both red-blooded and white-blooded fish to elevated temperatures. Differential gene expression will be examined through the use of high throughput RNA sequencing. The temporal and spatial patterns of gene expression in the context of embryonic morphology (Aim 2) will be determined by microscopic analysis of embryos "stained" with (hybridized to) differentially expressed gene probes revealed by Aim 1; other key developmental marker genes will also be used. The genetic lesions resulting from loss of red blood cells by the white-blooded fishes (Aim 3) will be examined by comparing genes and genomes in the two fish groups.
Subduction takes place at convergent plate boundaries and involves sinking of one tectonic plate underneath another. Although this process is a key aspect of plate tectonics that shapes the planet over geologic time, and is a primary cause of earthquakes, it is not known what causes subduction to cease, and what effect it has on the deepest portions of the crust and the upper part of the mantle. By studying the age and composition of igneous rocks emplaced at the very end of the subduction cycle, this project seeks to understand what causes subduction to cease, and how this changes the composition and structure of the crust and upper mantle. Because this process occurs deep within the earth, the project will focus on rocks in the root of an ancient subduction zone, now exposed in the Transantarctic Mountains of Antarctica. In addition, Antarctica remains relatively poorly understood, and this project will contribute directly to increasing our understanding of the geologic history of this region. The project will focus on training graduate and undergraduate students - incorporating hands-on experience with an array of state-of-the-art analytical instrumentation. Students will also gain a range of more general skills including Geographic Information Systems (GIS), written and oral communication, and data management - strengths that are highly relevant to careers both in the academic and Geosciences industry. Each summer, high school students will be incorporated into aspects of the laboratory-based research through the UCSB research mentorship program. The PI and graduate students will engage the general public through a purpose-built iPhone App and multimedia website. Activities will include live phone and video conversations from the field between elementary school students and members of the team in Antarctica. <br/><br/>The mechanisms by which the deep crustal delaminates or "founders" and is returned to the mantle remains a fundamental problem in earth science. Specifically, little is known about the temporal and spatial scales over which this process occurs or the mechanisms that trigger such catastrophic events. Igneous rocks highly enriched in potassium, called lamprophyres, are often emplaced during, and immediately after, termination of subduction and therefore potentially provide direct insight into foundering. These enigmatic rocks are important because they represent near-primary mantle melt compositions and therefore their age, geochemistry and petrologic evolution reveal key information on both the composition of the upper mantle and its thermal state. Of equal importance, they reveal how these key parameters vary through both space and time. By evaluating lamprophyres along a subduction zone margin it is possible to extract: 1) local-scale information, such as the timing and duration of melting and the role of igneous crystallization processes in generation of isotopic heterogeneities; 2) along-strike variations in mantle source composition, temperature, and depth of melting 3) the plate-scale forces that control foundering and termination of subduction. This project will study a suite of lamprophyres along the axis of the Transantarctic Mountains, emplaced during the latest stages of the Neoproterozoic - Ordovician Ross orogeny, Antarctica (roughly 505 to 470 million years before present). High-precision geochronology (age determinations) will be combined with geochemical measurements on the rocks and minerals to understand the mechanisms and timing of deep crustal foundering/delamination.
Intellectual Merit: This project will yield new information on the long term Antarctic climate and landscape evolution from measurements of cosmogenic nuclides in quartz sand from two unique permafrost cores collected in Beacon Valley, Antarctica. The two cores have already been drilled in ice-cemented, sand-rich permafrost at 5.5 and 30.6 meters depth, and are currently in cold storage at the University of Washington. The cores are believed to record the monotonic accumulation of sand that has been blown into lower Beacon Valley and inflated the surface over time. The rate of accumulation and any hiatus in the accumulation are believed to reflect in part the advance and retreat of the Taylor Glacier. Preliminary measurements of cosmogenically-produced beryllium (10Be) and aluminum (26Al) in quartz sand in the 5.5-meter depth core reveal that it has been accreting at a rate of 2.5 meters/Myr for the past million years. Furthermore, prior to that time, lower Beacon Valley was most likely covered (shielded from the atmosphere thereby having no or very low production of cosmogenic nuclides in quartz) by Taylor Glacier from 1 to 3.5 Myr BP. These preliminary measurements also suggest that the 30.6 meter core may provide a record of over 10 million years. The emphasis is the full characterization of the core and analysis of cosmogenic nuclides (including cosmogenic neon) in the 30.6 meter permafrost core to develop a burial history of the sands and potentially a record the waxing and waning of the Taylor Glacier. This will allow new tests of our current understanding of surface dynamics and climate history in the McMurdo Dry Valleys (MDV) based on the dated stratigraphy of eolian sand that has been accumulating and inflating the surface for millions of years. This is a new process of surface inflation whose extent has not been well documented, and holds the potential to develop a continuous history of surface burial and glacial expansion. This project will provide a new proxy for understanding the climatic history of the Dry Valleys and will test models for the evolution of permafrost in Beacon Valley.<br/><br/>Broader impacts: <br/><br/>The landscape history of the McMurdo Dry Valleys is important because geological deposits there comprise the richest terrestrial record available from Antarctica. By testing the current age model for these deposits, we will improve understanding of Antarctica?s role in global climate change. This project will train one graduate and one undergraduate student in geochemistry, geochronology, and glacial and periglacial geology. They will participate substantively in the research and are expected to develop their own original ideas. Results from this work will be incorporated into undergraduate and graduate teaching curricula, will be published in the peer reviewed literature, and the data will be made public.
Beginning with the discovery of a "curious valley" in 1903 by Captain Scott, the McMurdo Dry Valleys (MDV) in Antarctica have been impacted by humans, although there were only three brief visits prior to 1950. Since the late 1950's, human activity in the MDV has become commonplace in summer, putting pressure on the region's fragile ecosystems through camp construction and inhabitation, cross-valley transport on foot and via vehicles, and scientific research that involves sampling and deployment of instruments. Historical photographs, put alongside information from written documentation, offer an invaluable record of the changing patterns of human activity in the MDV. Photographic images often show the physical extent of field camps and research sites, the activities that were taking place, and the environmental protection measures that were being followed. Historical photographs of the MDV, however, are scattered in different places around the world, often in private collections, and there is a real danger that many of these photos may be lost, along with the information they contain. This project will collect and digitize historical photographs of sites of human activity in the MDV from archives and private collections in the United States, New Zealand, and organize them both chronologically and spatially in a GIS database. Sites of past human activities will be re-photographed to provide comparisons with the present, and re-photography will assist in providing spatial data for historical photographs without obvious location information. The results of this analysis will support effective environmental management into the future. The digital photo archive will be openly available through the McMurdo Dry Valleys Long Term Ecological Research (MCM LTER) website (www.mcmlter.org), where it can be used by scientists, environmental managers, and others interested in the region. <br/><br/>The central question of this project can be reformulated as a hypothesis: Despite an overall increase in human activities in the MDV, the spatial range of these activities has become more confined over time as a result of an increased awareness of ecosystem fragility and efforts to manage the region. To address this hypothesis, the project will define the spatial distribution and temporal frequency of human activity in the MDV. Photographs and reports will be collected from archives with polar collections such as the National Archives of New Zealand in Wellington and Christchurch and the Byrd Polar Research Center in Ohio. Private photograph collections will be accessed through personal connections, social media, advertisements in periodicals such as The Polar Times, and other means. Re-photography in the field will follow established techniques and will create benchmarks for future research projects. The spatial data will be stored in an ArcGIS database for analysis and quantification of the human footprint over time in the MDV. The improved understanding of changing patterns of human activity in the MDV provided by this historical photo archive will provide three major contributions: 1) a fundamentally important historic accounting of human activity to support current environmental management of the MDV; 2) defining the location and type of human activity will be of immediate benefit in two important ways: a) places to avoid for scientists interested in sampling pristine landscapes, and, b) targets of opportunity for scientists investigating the long-term environmental legacy of human activity; and 3) this research will make an innovative contribution to knowledge of the environmental history of the MDV.
This study aims to better understand salt accumulation in cold deserts and develop a model of salt transport by groundwater. Cold deserts, like the Antarctic McMurdo Dry Valleys (MDV), are similar to hot deserts in that they accumulate high concentrations of salts because there is not enough water to flush the salts out of the soils into the ocean. The accumulation of salt allows for the creation of brine-rich groundwater that freezes at much lower temperatures. Field work will focus on several groundwater features in the MDV including Don Juan Pond, a shallow lake that accumulates extremely high levels of salts and does not freeze until the temperature reaches -51 degrees C (-60 degrees F). The setting offers the potential to better understand this unique water environment including life at its extremes. It also serves as an analog environment for Mars, a planet that is entirely underlain by permafrost, similar to the MDV. This project will support a doctoral student at the University of Washington Department of Earth and Space Sciences, who will be trained in chemical analysis, chemical and physical modeling, and remote field work in a polar desert environment.<br/><br/>Past research suggests that the movement of soluble ions in sediment and soil is controlled by the water activity, permeability, and the thermal regime; however, processes controlling the ionic redistribution in Antarctic environments are poorly constrained. This project aims to better understand the formation, salt redistribution, and water activity of pervasive brine-rich groundwater that is enriched in calcium chloride. A primary goal is to develop a brine thermal;reactive;transport model for the MDV region using data collected from the field to constrain model inputs and ground-truth model outputs. The model will develop a Pitzer-type thermodynamic, reactive transport model and couple it to a ground temperature model. The model will test mechanisms of groundwater formation in the MDV and the properties (e.g. composition, temperature, and water activity) of widespread shallow brine-rich waters. Water is an essential ingredient for life and defining processes that control the availability of water is critical for understanding the habitability of extreme environments, including Mars.
This project will develop a record of the stable-isotope ratios of water from an ice core at the South Pole, Antarctica. Water-isotope ratio measurements provide a means to determine variability in temperature through time. South Pole is distinct from most other locations in Antarctica in showing no warming in recent decades, but little is known about temperature variability in this location prior to the installation of weather stations in 1957. The measurements made as part of this project will result in a much longer temperature record, extending at least 40,000 years, aiding our ability to understand what controls Antarctic climate, and improving projections of future Antarctic climate change. Data from this project will be critical to other investigators working on the South Pole ice core, and of general interest to other scientists and the public. Data will be provided rapidly to other investigators and made public as soon as possible.<br/><br/>This project will obtain records of the stable-isotope ratios of water on the ice core currently being obtained at South Pole. The core will reach a depth of 1500 m and an age of 40,000 years. The project will use laser spectroscopy to obtain both an ultra-high-resolution record of oxygen 18/16 and deuterium-hydrogen ratios, and a lower-resolution record of oxygen 17/16 ratios. The high-resolution measurements will be used to aid in dating the core, and to provide estimates of isotope diffusion that constrain the process of firn densification. The novel 17/16 measurement provides additional constraints on the isotope fractionation due to the temperature-dependent supersaturation ratio, which affects the fractionation of water during the liquid-solid condensate transition. Together, these techniques will allow for improved accuracy in the use of the water isotope ratios as proxies for ice-sheet temperature, sea-surface temperature, and atmospheric circulation. The result will be a record of decadal through centennial and millennial scale climate change in a climatically distinct region in East Antarctica that has not been previously sampled by deep ice coring. The project will support a graduate student who will be co-advised by faculty at the University of Washington and the University of Colorado, and will be involved in all aspects of the work.
This project contributes to the joint initiative launched by the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF) and the U.K. Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) to substantially improve decadal and longer-term projections of ice loss and sea-level rise originating from Thwaites Glacier in West Antarctica. Satellite observations extending over the last 25 years show that Thwaites Glacier is rapidly thinning and accelerating. Over this same period, the Thwaites grounding line, the point at which the glacier transitions from sitting on the seabed to floating, has retreated. Oceanographic studies demonstrate that the main driver of these changes is incursion of warm water from the deep ocean that flows beneath the floating ice shelf and causes basal melting. The period of satellite observation is not long enough to determine how a large glacier, such as Thwaites, responds to long-term and near-term changes in the ocean or the atmosphere. As a result, records of glacier change from the pre-satellite era are required to build a holistic understanding of glacier behavior. Ocean-floor sediments deposited at the retreating grounding line and further offshore contain these longer-term records of changes in the glacier and the adjacent ocean. An additional large unknown is the topography of the seafloor and how it influences interactions of landward-flowing warm water with Thwaites Glacier and affects its stability. Consequently, this project focuses on the seafloor offshore from Thwaites Glacier and the records of past glacial and ocean change contained in the sediments deposited by the glacier and surrounding ocean.<br/><br/>Uncertainty in model projections of the future of Thwaites Glacier will be significantly reduced by cross-disciplinary investigations seaward of the current grounding line, including extracting the record of decadal to millennial variations in warm water incursion, determining the pre-satellite era history of grounding-line migration, and constraining the bathymetric pathways that control flow of warm water to the grounding line. Sedimentary records and glacial landforms preserved on the seafloor will allow reconstruction of changes in drivers and the glacial response to them over a range of timescales, thus providing reference data that can be used to initiate and evaluate the reliability of models. Such data will further provide insights on the influence of poorly understood processes on marine ice sheet dynamics. This project will include an integrated suite of marine and sub-ice shelf research activities aimed at establishing boundary conditions seaward of the Thwaites Glacier grounding line, obtaining records of the external drivers of change, improving knowledge of processes leading to collapse of Thwaites Glacier, and determining the history of past change in grounding line migration and conditions at the glacier base. These objectives will be achieved through high-resolution geophysical surveys of the seafloor and analysis of sediments collected in cores from the inner shelf seaward of the Thwaites Glacier grounding line using ship-based equipment, and from beneath the ice shelf using a corer deployed through the ice shelf via hot water drill holes.<br/><br/>This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.
Cryoconite holes are pockets of life completely encased in otherwise barren glacial ice. These pockets of life form when dust blown onto the ice melts a small, largely isolated hole that can function as its own tiny ecosystem. This dust can contain microorganisms such as bacteria, algae, or microscopic animals. The microorganisms within the hole interact and carry out functions typical of a larger ecosystem, such as a forest. Cryoconite holes are especially important in extreme cold environments such as the Antarctic Dry Valleys, where they function as repositories of life. Because cryoconite holes are mostly enclosed and persist for years, they can be tracked over time to test fundamental scientific questions about how communities of interacting organisms develop to become fully functioning ecosystems. This project will sample existing and experimentally created cryoconite holes to understand how these ecosystems develop and to what degree random processes (such as which organisms get there first) affect the final community composition and functioning. The results will not only improve our understanding of how microbial communities assemble and affect the functioning of microecosystems such as cryoconite holes, but also how the processes of community assembly affect functioning of larger ecosystems, such as forests. A better understanding of community establishment, development, and response to abiotic factors are essential to forecasting ecological responses to environmental change.<br/><br/>It is essential to unravel the links between community assembly, biodiversity, and nutrient cycling across numerous ecosystems because these are critical factors determining ecological responses to environmental change. The unique, largely isolated nature of cryoconite holes provides an experimental system that will advance fundamental understanding of the processes (e.g., stochastic dynamics such as dispersal limitation, assembly order, and ecological drift) driving community assembly. This project will use a field sampling campaign and a number of manipulative experiments to test a hypothesis that unites theory in community and ecosystem ecology: the degree to which stochastic processes guide microbial community assembly and affects regional patterns in biodiversity and ecosystem processes. Cryoconite holes will be sampled to compare community composition, environmental factors, and ecosystem functioning between hydrologically connected and isolated holes. New cryoconite holes will also be constructed and monitored over the course of two growing seasons to specifically alter assembly order and community size, thereby pairing a unique manipulative experiment with field surveys to address questions with relevance to the Antarctic and beyond. Amplicon sequencing, metagenomics, microscopy, sensitive environmental chemistry methods, and photosynthesis and respiration measurements will be used to test a series of sub-hypotheses that relate stochasticity to patterns in regional biodiversity, heterogeneity in environmental factors, and ecosystem processes.
This award supports the deployment and analysis of data from an oriented laser dust logger in the South Pole ice core borehole to complement study of the ice core record. Before the core is even processed, data from the borehole probe will immediately determine the depth-age relationship, augment 3D mapping of South Pole stratigraphy, aid in searches for the oldest ice in Antarctica, and reveal layers of volcanic or extraterrestrial fallout. Regarding the intellectual merit, the oriented borehole log will be essential for investigating features in the ice sheet that may have implications for ice core chronology, ice flow, ice sheet physical properties and stability in response to climate change. The tools and techniques developed in this program have applications in glaciology, biogeoscience and exploration of other planetary bodies. The program aims for a deeper understanding of the consequences and causes of abrupt climate change. The broader impacts of the project are that it will include outreach and education, providing a broad training ground for students and post-docs. Data and metadata will be made available through data centers and repositories such as the National Snow and Ice Data Center web portal. <br/><br/>The laser dust logger detects reproducible paleoclimate features at sub-centimeter depth scale. Dust logger data are being used for synchronizing records and dating any site on the continent, revealing accumulation anomalies and episodes of rapid ice sheet thinning, and discovering particulate horizons of special interest. In this project we will deploy a laser dust logger equipped with a magnetic compass to find direct evidence of preferentially oriented dust. Using optical scattering measurements from IceCube calibration studies at South Pole and borehole logs at WAIS Divide, we have detected a persistent anisotropy correlated with flow and crystal fabric which suggests that the majority of insoluble particulates must be located within ice grains. With typical concentrations of parts-per-billion, little is known about the location of impurities within the polycrystalline structure of polar ice. While soluble impurities are generally thought to concentrate at inter-grain boundaries and determine electrical conductivity, the fate of insoluble particulates is much less clear, and microscopic examinations are extremely challenging. These in situ borehole measurements will help to unravel intimate relationships between impurities, flow, and crystal fabric. Data from this project will further develop a unique record of South Pole surface roughness as a proxy for paleowind and provide new insights for understanding glacial radar propagation. This project has field work in Antarctica.
This proposal requests support for a project to drill and recover a new ice core from South Pole, Antarctica. The South Pole ice core will be drilled to a depth of 1500 m, providing an environmental record spanning approximately 40 kyrs. This core will be recovered using a new intermediate drill, which is under development by the U.S. Ice Drilling Design and Operations (IDDO) group in collaboration with Danish scientists. This proposal seeks support to provide: 1) scientific management and oversight for the South Pole ice core project, 2) personnel for ice core drilling and core processing, 3) data management, and 3) scientific coordination and communication via scientific workshops. The intellectual merit of the work is that the analysis of stable isotopes, atmospheric gases, and aerosol-borne chemicals in polar ice has provided unique information about the magnitude and timing of changes in climate and climate forcing through time. The international ice core research community has articulated the goal of developing spatial arrays of ice cores across Antarctica and Greenland, allowing the reconstruction of regional patterns of climate variability in order to provide greater insight into the mechanisms driving climate change. The broader impacts of the project include obtaining the South Pole ice core will support a wide range of ice core science projects, which will contribute to the societal need for a basic understanding of climate and the capability to predict climate and ice sheet stability on long time scales. Second, the project will help train the next generation of ice core scientists by providing the opportunity for hands-on field and core processing experience for graduate students and postdoctoral researchers. A postdoctoral researcher at the University of Washington will be directly supported by this project, and many other young scientists will interact with the project through individual science proposals. Third, the project will result in the development of a new intermediate drill which will become an important resource to US ice core science community. This drill will have a light logistical footprint which will enable a wide range of ice core projects to be carried out that are not currently feasible. Finally, although this project does not request funds for outreach activities, the project will run workshops that will encourage and enable proposals for coordinated outreach activities involving the South Pole ice core science team.
Earth's geologic record shows that the great ice sheets have contributed to rates of sea-level rise that have been much higher than those observed today. That said, some sectors of the current Antarctic ice sheet are losing mass at large and accelerating rates. One of the primary challenges for placing these recent and ongoing changes in the context of geologically historic rates, and for making projections decades to centuries into the future, is the difficulty of observing conditions and processes beneath the ice sheet. Whereas satellite observations allow tracking of the ice-surface velocity and elevation on the scale of glacier catchments to ice sheets, airborne ice-penetrating radar has been the only approach for assessing conditions on this scale beneath the ice. These radar observations have been made since the late 1960s, but, because many different instruments have been used, it is difficult to track change in subglacial conditions through time. This project will develop the technical tools and approaches required to cross-compare among these measurements and thus open up opportunities for tracking and understanding changes in the critical subglacial environment. Intertwined with the research and student training on this project will be an outreach education effort to provide middle school and high school students with improved resources and enhanced exposure to geophysical, glaciological, and remote-sensing topics through partnership with the National Science Olympiad.<br/><br/>The radar sounding of ice sheets is a powerful tool for glaciological science with broad applicability across a wide range of cryosphere problems and processes. Radar sounding data have been collected with extensive spatial and temporal coverage across the West Antarctic Ice Sheet, including areas where multiple surveys provide observations that span decades in time or entire cross-catchment ice-sheet sectors. However, one major obstacle to realizing the scientific potential of existing radar sounding observations in Antarctica is the lack of analysis approaches specifically developed for cross-instrument interpretation. Radar is also spatially limited and often has gaps of many tens of kilometers between data points. Further work is needed to investigate ways of extrapolating radar information beyond the flight lines. This project aims to directly address these barriers to full utilization of the collective Antarctic radar sounding record by developing a suite of processing and interpretation techniques to enable the synthesis of radar sounding data sets collected with systems that range from incoherent to coherent, single-channel to swath-imaging, and digital to optically-recorded radar sounders. This includes a geostatistical analysis of ice sheet and radar datasets to make probabilistic predictions of conditions at the bed. The approaches will be assessed for two target regions: the Amundsen Sea Embayment and the Siple Coast. All pre- and post-processed sounding data produced by this project will be publically hosted for use by the wider research community.<br/><br/>This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.
This award supports a project to determine if the West Antarctic Ice Sheet (WAIS) has thinned and collapsed in the past few million years, and if so, when and how frequently this occurred. The principal aim is to identify climatic conditions or thresholds in the climate system that led to ice-sheet collapse in the past, and assess the threat of climate change to vulnerable ice sheets in the future. We recovered a subglacial bedrock core from beneath 150 m of ice cover in the Pirrit Hills, in West Antarctica, and measured cosmogenic nuclide profiles to determine the bedrock exposure history. Cosmic-ray-produced Be-10 and Al-26 in the core indicate: (i) Continuous Pleistocene ice cover averaging ~200 m; and (ii) One or more pre-Pleistocene deglaciations that exposed the core site for ~200-800 years in the Pliocene, or > 800 years, in the Miocene. Optically stimulated luminescence (OSL) dating of the core top precludes exposure to sunlight since ~450 ka, consistent with the Be-10 and Al-26 data. Trapped atmospheric argon in ice recovered from 80 cm above the bedrock surface indicates an age for the enclosing ice > 2 Ma (delta 40Ar/36Ar = -0.15 per-mil). Together, these results rule out any Pleistocene thinning of ice in the Pirrit Hills by more than 150 m.
The project will integrate analyses of fish physiology, protein production and genetics to determine if regulation of molecular chaperones (a class of proteins that facilitate the proper folding of proteins in a cell) has been permanently lost in a key fish species (Trematomus bernacchii) inhabiting the Southern Ocean. To do so, efforts will be undertaken to analyze chaperones in these fishes and how elevated temperatures impact protein turnover and protein damage. These studies should more definitively determine if the interruption of chaperone function is environmentally controlled (which could suggest these fish could benefit in some form by increasing sea surface temperatures) or if there is complete loss of chaperone function due to a change in its structure through evolutionary processes (which would suggest these fish are less likely to be able to adapt to warming). In addition to filling key gaps in our knowledge about the diversity and evolution of fishes in the southern ocean and the potential impacts changing temperatures might have on fish populations, the project will support the training of undergraduate and graduate students at an RUI institution. Specifically, activities and content directly related to this project's aims will be incorporated into the undergraduate curriculum at Sonoma State University in an effort to increase undergraduate participation in research, especially with respect to underrepresented groups.<br/><br/>The project has specific aims to perform a comparative analysis of nucleotide divergence resulting in non-synonymous amino acid changes in the trans-regulatory elements, namely members of the heat shock factor (HSF) family of transcription factors, in T. bernacchii and N. angustata. The project will also utilize metabolic labeling of newly synthesized proteins from isolated hepatocytes to monitor protein turnover rates in fish acclimated to both -1.5 and +4 °C for an extended period. Changes in chaperoning capacity and levels of damaged proteins will be quantified in multiple tissues to gain a better understanding of the cellular requirements for maintaining protein homeostasis under long-term acclimations to +4 °C. In combination, the work will help answer questions regarding divergence in these fishes as well a fundamental information regarding protein structure and function that may also have bio-medical implications.
Accurate reconstructions and predictions of glacier movement on timescales of human interest require a better understanding of available observations and the ability to model the key processes that govern ice flow. The fact that many of these processes are interconnected, are loosely constrained by data, and involve not only the ice, but also the atmosphere, ocean, and solid Earth, makes this a challenging endeavor, but one that is essential for Earth-system modeling and the resulting climate and sea-level forecasts that are provided to policymakers worldwide. Based on the amount of ice present in the West Antarctic Ice Sheet and its ability to flow and/or melt into the ocean, its complete collapse would result in a global sea-level rise of 3.3 to 5 meters, making its stability and rate of change scientific questions of global societal significance. Whether or not a collapse eventually occurs, a better understanding of the potential West Antarctic contribution to sea level over the coming decades and centuries is necessary when considering the fate of coastal population centers. Recent observations of the Amundsen Sea Embayment of West Antarctica indicate that it is experiencing faster mass loss than any other region of the continent. At present, the long-term stability of this embayment is unknown, with both theory and observations suggesting that collapse is possible. This study is focused on this critical region as well as processes governing changes in outlet glacier flow. To this end, we will test an ice-sheet model against existing observations and improve treatment of key processes within ice sheet models.
This is a four-year (one year of no-cost extension) modeling study using the open-source Ice Sheet System Model in coordination with other models to help improve projections of future sea-level change. Overall project goals, which are distributed across the collaborating institutions, are to:
1. hindcast the past two-to-three decades of evolution of the Amundsen Sea Embayment sector to determine controlling processes, incorporate and test parameterizations, and assess and improve model initialization, spinup, and performance;
2. utilize observations from glacial settings and efficient process-oriented models to develop a better understanding of key processes associated with outlet glacier dynamics and to create numerically efficient parameterizations for these often sub-grid-scale processes;
3. project a range of evolutions of the Amundsen Sea Embayment sector in the next several centuries given various forcings and inclusion or omission of physical processes in the model.
The response of the Antarctic Ice Sheet to future climatic changes is recognized as the greatest uncertainty in projections of future sea level. An understanding of past ice fluctuations affords insight into ice-sheet response to climate and sea-level change and thus is critical for improving sea-level predictions. This project will examine deglaciation of the southern Ross Sea over the past few thousand years to document oscillations in Antarctic ice volume during a period of relatively stable climate and sea level. We will help quantify changes in ice volume, improve understanding of the ice dynamics responsible, and examine the implications for future sea-level change. The project will train future scientists through participation of graduate students, as well as undergraduates who will develop research projects in our laboratories.<br/><br/>Previous research indicates rapid Ross Sea deglaciation as far south as Beardmore Glacier early in the Holocene epoch (which began approximately 11,700 years before present), followed by more gradual recession. However, deglaciation in the later half of the Holocene remains poorly constrained, with no chronological control on grounding-line migration between Beardmore and Scott Glaciers. Thus, we do not know if mid-Holocene recession drove the grounding line rapidly back to its present position at Scott Glacier, or if the ice sheet withdrew gradually in the absence of significant climate forcing or eustatic sea level change. The latter possibility raises concerns for future stability of the Ross Sea grounding line. To address this question, we will map and date glacial deposits on coastal mountains that constrain the thinning history of Liv and Amundsen Glaciers. By extending our chronology down to the level of floating ice at the mouths of these glaciers, we will date their thinning history from glacial maximum to present, as well as migration of the Ross Sea grounding line southwards along the Transantarctic Mountains. High-resolution dating will come from Beryllium-10 surface-exposure ages of erratics collected along elevation transects, as well as Carbon-14 dates of algae within shorelines from former ice-dammed ponds. Sites have been chosen specifically to allow close comparison of these two dating methods, which will afford constraints on Antarctic Beryllium-10 production rates.
This collaborative project explores the signatures and causes of natural climate change in the region surrounding Antarctica over the last 40,000 years as the Earth transitioned from an ice age into the modern warm period. The researchers will investigate how the wind belts that surround Antarctica changed in their strength and position through time, and document explosive volcanic eruptions and CO2 cycling in the Southern Ocean as potential climate forcing mechanisms over this interval. Understanding how and why the climate varied naturally in the past is critical for improving understanding of modern climate change and projections of future climate under higher levels of atmospheric CO2. <br/><br/>The investigators plan to conduct a suite of chemical measurements along the 1500m length of the South Pole Ice Core, including major ion and trace element concentrations, and microparticle (dust) concentrations and size distributions. These measurements will (1) extend the South Pole record of explosive volcanic eruptions to 40,000 years using sulfate and particle data; (2) establish the relative timing of climate changes in dust source regions of Patagonia, New Zealand, and Australia using dust flux data; (3) investigate changes in the strength and position of the westerly wind belt using dust size distribution data; and (4) quantify the flux of bioavailable trace metals deposited as dust to the Southern Ocean over time. These chemistry records will also be critical for creating the timescale that will be used by all researchers studying records from the South Pole core. The project will support four graduate students and several undergraduate students across three different institutions, and become a focus of the investigators' efforts to disseminate outcomes of climate change science to the broader community.
Polar regions are deserts that are not only cold but also lack access to free water. Antarctic insects have unique survival mechanisms including the ability to tolerate freezing and extensive dehydration, surviving the loss of 70% of their body water. How this is done is of interest not only for understanding seasonal adaptations of insects and how they respond to climate change, but the molecular and physiological mechanisms employed may offer valuable insights into more general mechanisms that might be exploited for cryopreservation and long-term storage of human tissues and organs for transplantation and other medical applications. The investigators will study the proteins that are responsible for removing water from the body, cell level consequences of this, and how the responsible genes vary between populations. The project will also further the NSF goals of making scientific discoveries available to the general public and of training new generations of scientists. Each year a K-12 teacher will be a member of the field team and assist with fieldwork and outreach to school children and their teachers. Educational outreach efforts include presentations at local schools and national teacher meetings, providing lesson plans and podcasts on a website, and continuing to publish articles related to this research in education journals. In addition, undergraduate and graduate students will receive extensive training in all aspects of the research project with extended experiences that include publication of scientific papers and presentations at national meetings.<br/><br/>This project focuses on deciphering the physiological and molecular mechanisms that enable the Antarctic midge Belgica antarctica to survive environmental stress and the loss of most of its body water in the desiccating polar environment. This extremophile is an ideal system for investigating mechanisms of stress tolerance and local geographic adaptations and its genome has recently been sequenced. This project has three focal areas: 1) Evaluating the role of aquaporins (water channel proteins) in the rapid removal of water from the body by studying expression of their genes during dehydration; 2) Investigating the mechanism of metabolic depression and the role of autophagy (controlled breakdown of cellular components) as a mediator of stress tolerance by studying expression of the genes responsible for autophagy during the dehydration process; and 3) Evaluating the population structure, gene flow, and adaptive variation in physiological traits associated with stress tolerance using a genetic approach that takes advantage of the genomic sequence available for this species coupled with physiological and environmental data from the sampled populations and their habitats.
Phytoplankton blooms in the coastal waters of the Ross Sea, Antarctica are typically dominated by either diatoms or Phaeocystis Antarctica (a flagellated algae that often can form large colonies in a gelatinous matrix). The project seeks to determine if an association of bacterial populations with Phaeocystis antarctica colonies can directly supply Phaeocystis with Vitamin B12, which can be an important co-limiting micronutrient in the Ross Sea. The supply of an essential vitamin coupled with the ability to grow at lower iron concentrations may put Phaeocystis at a competitive advantage over diatoms. Because Phaeocystis cells can fix more carbon than diatoms and Phaeocystis are not grazed as efficiently as diatoms, the project will help in refining understanding of carbon dynamics in the region as well as the basis of the food web webs. Such understanding also has the potential to help refine predictive ecological models for the region. The project will conduct public outreach activities and will contribute to undergraduate and graduate research. Engagement of underrepresented students will occur during summer student internships. A collaboration with Italian Antarctic researchers, who have been studying the Terra Nova Bay ecosystem since the 1980s, aims to enhance the project and promote international scientific collaborations. <br/><br/>The study will test whether a mutualistic symbioses between attached bacteria and Phaeocystis provides colonial cells a mechanism for alleviating chronic Vitamin B12 co-limitation effects thereby conferring them with a competitive advantage over diatom communities. The use of drifters in a time series study will provide the opportunity to track in both space and time a developing algal bloom in Terra Nova Bay and to determine community structure and the physiological nutrient status of microbial populations. A combination of flow cytometry, proteomics, metatranscriptomics, radioisotopic and stable isotopic labeling experiments will determine carbon and nutrient uptake rates and the role of bacteria in mitigating potential vitamin B12 and iron limitation. Membrane inlet and proton transfer reaction mass spectrometry will also be used to estimate net community production and release of volatile organic carbon compounds that are climatically active. Understanding how environmental parameters can influence microbial community dynamics in Antarctic coastal waters will advance an understanding of how changes in ocean stratification and chemistry could impact the biogeochemistry and food web dynamics of Southern Ocean ecosystems.
The Antarctic marine ecosystem is highly productive and supports a diverse range of ecologically and commercially important species. A key species in this ecosystem is Antarctic krill, which in addition to being commercially harvested, is the principle prey of a wide range of marine organisms including penguins, seals and whales. The aim of this study is to use penguins and other krill predators as sensitive indicators of past changes in the Antarctic marine food web resulting from climate variability and the historic harvesting of seals and whales by humans. Specifically this study will recover and analyze modern (<20 year old), historic (20-200 year old) and ancient (200-10,000 year old) penguin and other krill predator tissues to track their past diets and population movements relative to shifts in climate and the availability of Antarctic krill. Understanding how krill predators were affected by these factors in the past will allow us to better understand how these predators, the krill they depend on, and the Antarctic marine ecosystem as a whole will respond to current challenges such as global climate change and an expanding commercial fishery for Antarctic krill. The project will further the NSF goals of training new generations of scientists and of making scientific discoveries available to the general public. This project will support the cross-institutional training of undergraduate and graduate students in advanced analytical techniques in the fields of ecology and biogeochemistry. In addition, this project includes educational outreach aimed encouraging participation in science careers by engaging K-12 students in scientific issues related to Antarctica, penguins, marine ecology, biogeochemistry, and global climate change.<br/><br/>This research will help place recent ecological changes in the Southern Ocean into a larger historical context by examining decadal and millennial-scale shifts in the diets and population movements of Antarctic krill predators (penguins, seals, and squid) in concert with climate variability and commercial harvesting. This will be achieved by coupling advanced stable and radio isotope techniques, particularly compound-specific stable isotope analysis, with unprecedented access to modern, historical, and well-preserved paleo-archives of Antarctic predator tissues dating throughout the Holocene. This approach will allow the project to empirically test if observed shifts in Antarctic predator bulk tissue stable isotope values over the past millennia were caused by climate-driven shifts at the base of the food web in addition to, or rather than, shifts in predator diets due to a competitive release following the historic harvesting of krill eating whale and seals. In addition, this project will track the large-scale abandonment and reoccupation of penguin colonies around Antarctica in response to changes in climate and sea ice conditions over the past several millennia. These integrated field studies and laboratory analyses will provide new insights into the underlying mechanisms that influenced past shifts in the diets and population movements of charismatic krill predators such as penguins. This will allow for improved projections of the ecosystem consequences of future climate change and anthropogenic harvesting scenarios in the Antarctica that are likely to affect the availability of Antarctic krill.
ABSTRACT<br/>Intellectual Merit:<br/>The high concentration of the major nutrients nitrate and phosphate is a fundamental characteristic of the Antarctic Zone in the Southern Ocean and is central to its role in global ocean fertility and the global carbon cycle. The isotopic composition of diatom-bound organic nitrogen is one of the best hopes for reconstructing the nutrient status of polar surface waters over glacial cycles, which in turn may hold the explanation for the decline in atmospheric carbon dioxide during ice ages. The PIs propose to generate detailed diatom-bound nitrogen isotope (δ15Ndb) records from high sedimentation rate cores from the Kerguelen Plateau. Because the cores were collected at relatively shallow seafloor depths, they have adequate planktonic and benthic foraminifera to develop accurate age models. The resulting data could be compared with climate records from Antarctic ice cores and other archives to investigate climate-related changes, including the major steps into and out of ice ages and the millennial-scale events that occur during ice ages and at their ends. The records generated in this project will provide a critical test of hypotheses for the cause of lower ice age CO2.<br/><br/>Broader impacts:<br/>This study will contribute to the goal of understanding ice ages and past CO2 changes, which both have broad implications for future climate. Undergraduates will undertake summer internships, with the possibility of extending their work into junior year projects and senior theses. In addition, the PI will lead modules for two Princeton programs for middle school teachers and will host a teacher for a six-week summer research project.
During winter, sea-ice coverage along the Antarctic coast is punctuated by numerous polynyas--isolated openings of tens to hundreds of kilometer wide. These coastal polynyas are hotspots of sea ice production and the primary source regions of the bottom water in the global ocean. They also host high levels of biological activities and are the feeding grounds of Emperor penguins and marine mammals. The polynyas are a key component of the Antarctic coastal system and crucial for the survival of penguins and many other species. These features also differ dramatically from each other in timing of formation, duration, phytoplankton growth season, and overall biological productivity. Yet, the underlying reasons for differences among them are largely unknown. This project studies the fundamental biophysical processes at a variety of polynyas, examines the connection between the physical environment and the phytoplankton and penguin ecology, and investigates the mechanisms behind polynya variability. The results of this interdisciplinary study will provide a context for interpretation of field measurements in Antarctic coastal polynyas, set a baseline for future polynya studies, and examine how polynya ecosystems may respond to local and large-scale environmental changes. The project will include educational and outreach activities that convey scientific messages to a broad audience. It aims to increase public awareness of the interconnection between large-scale environmental change and Antarctic coastal systems.<br/><br/>The main objectives of this study are to form a comprehensive understanding of the temporal and spatial variability of Antarctic coastal polynyas and the physical controls of polynya ecosystems. The project takes an interdisciplinary approach and seeks to establish a modeling system centered on the Regional Ocean Modeling System. This system links the ice and ocean conditions to the plankton ecology and penguin population. Applications of the modeling system in representative polynyas, in conjunction with analysis of existing observations, will determine the biophysical influences of individual forcing factors. In particular, this study will test a set of hypothesized effects of winds, offshore water intrusion, ice-shelf melting, sea-ice formation, glacier tongues, and ocean stratification on the timing of polynya phytoplankton bloom and the overall polynya biological productivity. The project will also examine how changing polynya state affects penguin breeding success, adult survival, and population growth. The team will conduct idealized sensitivity analysis to explore implications of forcing variability, including local and large-scale environmental change, on Antarctic coastal ecosystems.
The temperature of the earth is controlled, in part, by heat trapping gases that include carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide. Despite their importance to climate, direct measurements of these gases in the atmosphere are limited to the last 50 years at best. Air trapped in ice cores extends those data back hundreds of millennia, and measurements of greenhouse gases in ice cores underpin much of our understanding of global chemical cycles relevant to modern climate change. Existing records vary in quality and detail. The proposed work fills gaps in our knowledge of nitrous oxide and carbon dioxide over the last 10,000 years. New measurements from an ice core from the South Pole will be used to determine what role changes in ocean and land based processes played in controlling these gases, which decreased during the first 2,000 years of this time period, then gradually increased toward the present. The work will address a major controversy over whether early human activities could have impacted the atmosphere, and provide data to improve mathematical models of the land-ocean-atmosphere system that predict how future climate change will impact the composition of the atmosphere and climate. <br/><br/>For nitrous oxide the work will improve on existing concentration records It will also develop measurement of the isotopomers of nitrous oxide and explore their utility for understanding aspects of the Holocene nitrous oxide budget. The primary goal is to determine if marine and/or terrestrial emissions of nitrous oxide change in response to changes in Holocene climate. A new Holocene isotopic record for carbon dioxide (stable carbon and oxygen isotopes), will improve the precision of existing records by a factor 5 and increase the temporal resolution. These data will be used to evaluate controversial hypotheses about why carbon dioxide concentrations changed in the Holocene and provide insight into millennial scale processes in the carbon cycle, which are not resolved by current isotopic data. A graduate student and post doc will receive advanced training during and the student and principle investigator will conduct outreach efforts targeted at local middle school students. The proposed work will also contribute to teaching efforts by the PI and to public lectures on climate and climate change. The results will be disseminated through publications, data archive, and the OSU Ice Core Lab web site. New analytical methods of wide utility will also be developed and documented.
Abstract<br/>During the Early Pliocene, 4.8 to 3.4 million years ago, warmer-than-present global temperatures resulted in a retreat of the Ross Ice Shelf and West Antarctic Ice Sheet. Understanding changes in ocean dynamics during times of reduced ice volume and increased temperatures in the geologic past will improve the predictive models for these conditions. The primary goal of the proposed research is to develop a new oxygen isotope record of Pliocene oceanographic conditions near the Antarctic continent. Oxygen isotope values from the carbonate tests of benthic foraminifera have become the global standard for paleo-oceanographic studies, but foraminifera are sparse in high-latitude sediment cores. This research will instead make use of oxygen isotope measurements from diatom silica preserved in a marine sediment core from the Ross Sea. The project is the first attempt at using this method and will advance understanding of global ocean dynamics and ice sheet-ocean interactions during the Pliocene. The project will foster the professional development of two early-career scientists and serve as training for graduate and undergraduate student researchers. The PIs will use this project to introduce High School students to polar/oceanographic research, as well as stable isotope geochemistry. Collaboration with teachers via NSTA and Polar Educators International will ensure the implementation of excellent STEM learning activities and curricula for younger students. <br/><br/>Technical Description<br/>This project will produce a high-resolution oxygen isotope record from well-dated diatom rich sediments that have been cross-correlated with global benthic foraminifera oxygen isotope records. Diatom silica frustules deposited during the Early Pliocene and recovered by the ANDRILL Project (AND-1B) provide ideal material for this objective. Diatomite unites in the AND-1B core are nearly pure, with little evidence of opal formation. A diatom oxygen isotope record from this core offers the potential to constrain lingering uncertainties about Ross Sea and Southern Ocean paleoceanography and Antarctic Ice Sheet history during a time of high atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations. Specifically, oxygen isotope variations will be used to constrain changes in the water temperature and/or freshwater flux in the Pliocene Ross Sea. Diatom species data from the AND-1B core have been used to infer variations in the extent and duration of seasonal sea ice coverage, sea surface temperatures, and mid-water advection onto the continental shelf. However, the diatom oxygen isotope record will provide the first direct measure of water/oxygen isotope values at the Antarctic continental margin during the Pliocene.
The Weddell seal is the southern-most mammal in the world, having a circumpolar distribution around Antarctica; the McMurdo Sound population in Antarctica is one of the best-studied mammal populations on earth. However, despite this, an understanding of how populations around the continent will fare under climate change is poorly understood. A complicating matter is the potential effects of a commercial enterprise in the Antarctic: a fishery targeting toothfish, which are important prey for Weddell seals. Although the species is easily detected and counted during the breeding season, no reliable estimates of continent-wide Weddell seal numbers exist, due to the logistic difficulties of surveying vast regions of Antarctica. Large-scale estimates are needed to understand how seal populations are responding to the fishery and climate change, because these drivers of change operate at scales larger than any single population, and may affect seals differently in different regions of the continent. We will take advantage of the ease of detectability of darkly colored seals when they the on ice to develop estimates of abundance from satellite images. This project will generate baseline data on the global distribution and abundance of Weddell seals around the Antarctic and will link environmental variables to population changes to better understand how the species will fare as their sea ice habitat continues to change. These results will help disentangle the effects of climate change and fishery operations, results that are necessary for appropriate international policy regarding fishery catch limits, impacts on the environment, and the value of marine protected areas. The project will also further the NSF goals of training new generations of scientists and of making scientific discoveries available to the general public. It will engage "arm-chair" scientists of all ages through connections with several non-governmental organizations and the general public. Anyone with access to the internet, including people who are physically unable to participate in field research directly, can participate in this project while simultaneously learning about multiple aspects of polar ecology through the project's interactive website. <br/><br/>Specifically, this research project will: 1) Quantify the distribution of Weddell seals around Antarctica and 2) Determine the impact of environmental variables (such as fast ice extent, ocean productivity, bathymetry) on habitat suitability and occupancy. To do this, the project will crowd-source counting of seals on high-resolution satellite images via a commercial citizen science platform. Variation in seal around the continent will then be related to habitat variables through generalized linear models. Specific variables, such as fast ice extent will be tested to determine their influence on population variability through both space and time. The project includes a rigorous plan for ensuring quality control in the dataset including ground truth data from other, localized projects concurrently funded by the National Science Foundation's Antarctic Science Program.
Rapid changes in the extent and thickness of sea ice during the austral spring subject microorganisms within or attached to the ice to large fluctuations in temperature, salinity, light and nutrients. This project aims to identify cellular responses in sea-ice algae to increasing temperature and decreasing salinity during the spring melt along the western Antarctic Peninsula and to determine how associated changes at the cellular level can potentially affect dynamic, biologically driven processes. Understanding how sea-ice algae cope with, and are adapted to, their environment will not only help predict how polar ecosystems may change as the extent and thickness of sea ice change, but will also provide a better understanding of the widespread success of photosynthetic life on Earth. The scientific context and resulting advances from the research will be communicated to the general public through outreach activities that includes work with Science Communication Fellows and the popular Polar Science Weekend at the Pacific Science Center in Seattle, Washington. The project will provide student training to college students as well as provide for educational experiences for K-12 school children. <br/><br/><br/>There is currently a poor understanding of feedback relationships that exist between the rapidly changing environment in the western Antarctic Peninsula region and sea-ice algal production. The large shifts in temperature and salinity that algae experience during the spring melt affect critical cellular processes, including rates of enzyme-catalyzed reactions involved in photosynthesis and respiration, and the production of stress-protective compounds. These changes in cellular processes are poorly constrained but can be large and may have impacts on local ecosystem productivity and biogeochemical cycles. In particular, this study will focus on the thermal sensitivity of enzymes and the cycling of compatible solutes and exopolymers used for halo- and cryo-protection, and how they influence primary production and the biogeochemical cycling of carbon and nitrogen. Approaches will include field sampling during spring melt, incubation experiments of natural sea-ice communities under variable temperature and salinity conditions, and controlled manipulation of sea-ice algal species in laboratory culture. Employment of a range of techniques, from fast repetition rate fluorometry and gross and net photosynthetic measurements to metabolomics and enzyme kinetics, will tease apart the mechanistic effects of temperature and salinity on cell metabolism and primary production with the goal of quantifying how these changes will impact biogeochemical processes along the western Antarctic Peninsula.<br/><br/>This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.
Overview: The funded work investigated whether ice core 86Kr acts as a proxy for barometric pressure variability, and whether this proxy can be used in Antarctic ice cores to infer past movement of the Southern Hemisphere (SH) westerly winds. Pressure variations drive macroscopic air movement in the firn column, which reduces the gravitational isotopic enrichment of slow-diffusing gases (such as Kr). The 86Kr deviation from gravitational equilibrium (denoted D86Kr) thus reflects the magnitude of pressure variations (among other things). Atmospheric reanalysis data suggest that pressure variability over Antarctica is linked to the Southern Annular Mode (SAM) index and the position of the SH westerly winds. Preliminary data from the WAIS Divide ice core show a large excursion in D86Kr during the last deglaciation (20-9 ka before present). In this project the investigators (1) performed high-precision 86Kr analysis on ice core and firn air samples to establish whether D86Kr is linked to pressure variability; (2) Refined the deglacial WAIS Divide record of Kr isotopes; (3) Investigated the role of pressure variability in firn air transport using firn air models with firn microtomography data and Lattice- Boltzmann modeling; and (4) Investigated how barometric pressure variability in Antarctica is linked to the SAM index and the position/strength of the SH westerlies in past and present climates using GCM and reanalysis data. A key finding was that D86Kr in recent ice samples (e.g. last 50 years) from a broad spatial array of sites in Antarctica and Greenland showed a significant correlation with directly measured barometric pressure variability at the ice core site. This strongly supports the hypothesis that 86Kr can be used as a paleo-proxy for storminess.
Intellectual Merit: The SH westerlies are a key component of the global climate system; they are an important control on the global oceanic overturning circulation and possibly on atmospheric CO2 concentrations. Poleward movement of the SH westerlies during the last deglaciation has been hypothesized, yet evidence from proxy and modeling studies remains inconclusive. The funded work could provide valuable new constraints on deglacial movement of the SH westerlies. This record can be compared to high-resolution CO2 data from the same core, allowing us to test hypotheses that link CO2 to the SH westerlies. Climate proxies are at the heart of paleoclimate research. The funded work has apparently led to the discovery of a completely new proxy, opening up exciting new research possibilities and increasing the scientific value of existing ice cores. Once validated, the 86Kr proxy could be applied to other time periods as well, providing a long-term perspective on the movement of the SH westerlies. The funded work has furthermore provided valuable new insights into firn air transport.
Broader impact: The Southern Ocean is presently an important sink of atmospheric CO2, thereby reducing the warming associated with anthropogenic CO2 emissions. Stratospheric ozone depletion and greenhouse warming have displaced the SH westerlies poleward, with potential consequences for the future magnitude of this oceanic carbon uptake. The funded work may provide a paleo-perspective on past movement of the SH westerlies and its link to atmospheric CO2, which could guide projections of future oceanic CO2 uptake, with strong societal benefits. The awarded funds supported and trained an early-career postdoctoral scholar at OSU, and fostered (international) collaboration. Data from the study will be available to the scientific community and the broad public through recognized data centers. During this project the PI and senior personnel have continued their commitment to public outreach through media interviews and speaking to schools and the public about their work. The PI provides services to the community by chairing the IPICS (International Partnership in Ice Core Sciences) working group and organizing annual PIRE (Partnerships in International Research and Education) workshops.
The Ross Ice Shelf is the largest existing ice shelf in Antarctica, and is currently stabilizing significant portions of the land ice atop the Antarctic continent. An ice shelf begins where the land ice goes afloat on the ocean, and as such, the Ross Ice Shelf interacts with the ocean and seafloor below, and the land ice behind. Currently, the Ross Ice Shelf slows down, or buttresses, the fast flowing ice streams of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet (WAIS), a marine-based ice sheet, which if melted, would raise global sea level by 3-4 meters. The Ross Ice Shelf average ice thickness is approximately 350 meters, and it covers approximately 487,000 square kilometers, an area slightly larger than the state of California. The Ross Ice Shelf has disappeared during prior interglacial periods, suggesting in the future it may disappear again. Understanding the dynamics, stability and future of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet therefore requires in-depth knowledge of the Ross Ice Shelf. The ROSETTA-ICE project brings together scientists from 4 US institutions and from the Institute of Geological and Nuclear Sciences Limited, known as GNS Science, New Zealand. The ROSETTA-ICE data on the ice shelf, the water beneath the ice shelf, and the underlying rocks, will allow better predictions of how the Ross Ice Shelf will respond to changing climate, and therefore how the WAIS will behave in the future. The interdisciplinary ROSETTA-ICE team will train undergraduate and high school students in cutting edge research techniques, and will also work to educate the public via a series of vignettes integrating ROSETTA-ICE science with the scientific and human history of Antarctic research.<br/><br/>The ROSETTA-ICE survey will acquire gravity and magnetics data to determine the water depth beneath the ice shelf. Radar, LIDAR and imagery systems will be used to map the Ross Ice Shelf thickness and fine structure, crevasses, channels, debris, surface accumulation and distribution of marine ice. The high resolution aerogeophysical data over the Ross Ice Shelf region in Antarctica will be acquired using the IcePod sensor suite mounted externally on an LC-130 aircraft operating from McMurdo Station, Antarctica. Field activities will include ~36 flights on LC-130 aircraft over two field seasons in Antarctica. The IcePod instrument suite leverages the unique experience of the New York Air National Guard operating in Antarctica for NSF scientific research as well as infrastructure and logistics. The project will answer questions about the stability of the Ross Ice Shelf in future climate, and the geotectonic evolution of the Ross Ice Shelf Region, a key component of the West Antarctic Rift system. The comprehensive benchmark data sets acquired will enable broad, interdisciplinary analyses and modeling, which will also be performed as part of the project. ROSETTA-ICE will illuminate Ross ice sheet-ice shelf-ocean dynamics as the system nears a critical juncture but still is intact. Through interacting with an online data visualization tool, and comparing the ROSETTA-ICE data and results from earlier studies, we will engage students and young investigators, equipping them with new capabilities for the study of critical earth systems that influence global climate.
Microbial mats are found throughout the McMurdo Dry Valleys where summer snowmelt provides liquid water that allows these mats to flourish. Researchers have long studied the environmental conditions microbial mats need to grow. Despite these efforts, it has been difficult to develop a broad picture of these unique ecosystems. Recent advances in satellite technology now provide researchers an exciting new tool to study these special Antarctic ecosystems from space using the unique spectral signatures associated with microbial mats. This new technology not only offers the promise that microbial mats can be mapped and studied from space, this research will also help protect these delicate environments from potentially harmful human impacts that can occur when studying them from the ground. This project will use satellite imagery and spectroscopic techniques to identify and map microbial mat communities and relate their properties and distributions to both field and lab-based measurements. This research provides an exciting new tool to help document and understand the distribution of a major component of the Antarctic ecosystem in the McMurdo Dry Valleys.
The goal of this project is to establish quantitative relationships between spectral signatures derived from orbit and the physiological status and biogeochemical properties of microbial mat communities in Taylor Valley, Antarctica, as measured by field and laboratory analyses on collected samples. The goal will be met by (1) refining atmospheric correction techniques using in situ radiometric rectification to derive accurate surface spectra; (2) collecting multispectral orbital images concurrent with in situ sampling and spectral measurements in the field to ensure temporal comparability; (3) measuring sediment, water, and microbial mat samples for organic and inorganic carbon content, essential biogeochemical nutrients, and chlorophyll-a to determine relevant mat characteristics; and (4) quantitatively associating these laboratory-derived characteristics with field-derived and orbital spectral signatures and parameters. The result of this work will be a more robust quantitative link between the distribution of microbial mat communities and their biogeochemical properties to landscape-scale spectral signatures.
This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.
Marchetti, Adrian; Septer, Alecia; Hopkinson, Brian
No dataset link provided
Proteorhodopsins (PR) are retinal-binding membrane proteins that can act as light-driven proton pumps to generate energy that can be used for metabolism and growth. The discovery of PRs in many diverse marine prokaryotic microbes has initiated extensive investigations into their distributions and functional roles. Recently, a rhodopsin-like gene of the proton-pumping variety was identified in diatoms thus revealing their presence within obligate marine eukaryotic photoautotrophs. Since this time, PRs have been identified in a number of diatom isolates although there appears to be a much higher frequency of
PR in diatoms residing in cold, iron-limited regions of the ocean, particularly in the Southern Ocean (SO). PR is especially suited for use in SO phytoplankton since unlike conventional photosynthesis, it uses no iron and its reaction rate is insensitive to temperature. The overall objective of our proposed project is to characterize Antarctic diatom-PR and determine its role in the adaptation of SO diatoms to the prevailing conditions of low iron concentrations and extremely low temperatures. Our research objectives will be achieved through a combination of molecular, biochemical and physiological measurements in diatom isolates recently obtained from the Western Antarctic Peninsula region. We will determine the proton-pumping characteristics and pumping rates of PR as a function of light intensity and wavelength, the resultant PR-linked intracellular ATP production rates, and the cellular localization of the protein. We will examine under which environmental conditions Antarctic diatom-PR is most highly expressed and construct a cellular energy budget that includes diatom-PR when grown under these different growth conditions. Estimates of the energy flux generated by PR in PR-containing diatoms will be compared to total energy generation by the photosynthetic light reactions and metabolically coupled respiration rates. Finally, we will compare the characteristics and gene expression of diatom-PR in Antarctic diatoms to PR-containing diatoms isolated from temperate regions in order to investigate if there is a preferential dependence on energy production through diatom-PR in diatoms residing in cold, iron-limited regions of the ocean.
The one place on Earth consistently showing increases in sea ice area, duration, and concentration is the Ross Sea in Antarctica. Satellite imagery shows about half of the Ross Sea increases are associated with changes in the austral fall, when the new sea ice is forming. The most pronounced changes are also located near polynyas, which are areas of open ocean surrounded by sea ice. To understand the processes driving the sea ice increase, and to determine if the increase in sea ice area is also accompanied by a change in ice thickness, this project will conduct an oceanographic cruise to the polynyas of the Ross Sea in April and May, 2017, which is the austral fall. The team will deploy state of the art research tools including unmanned airborne systems (UASs, commonly called drones), autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs), and remotely operated underwater vehicles (ROVs). Using these tools and others, the team will study atmospheric, oceanic, and sea ice properties and processes concurrently. A change in sea ice production will necessarily change the ocean water below, which may have significant consequences for global ocean circulation patterns, a topic of international importance. All the involved institutions will be training students, and all share the goal of expanding climate literacy in the US, emphasizing the role high latitudes play in the Earth's dynamic climate.<br/><br/>The main goal of the project is to improve estimates of sea ice production and water mass transformation in the Ross Sea. The team will fully capture the spatial and temporal changes in air-ice-ocean interactions when they are initiated in the austral fall, and then track the changes into the winter and spring using ice buoys, and airborne mapping with the newly commissioned IcePod instrument system, which is deployed on the US Antarctic Program's LC-130 fleet. The oceanographic cruise will include stations in and outside of both the Terra Nova Bay and Ross Ice Shelf polynyas. Measurements to be made include air-sea boundary layer fluxes of heat, freshwater, and trace gases, radiation, and meteorology in the air; ice formation processes, ice thickness, snow depth, mass balance, and ice drift within the sea ice zone; and temperature, salinity, and momentum in the ocean below. Following collection of the field data, the team will improve both model parameterizations of air-sea-ice interactions and remote sensing algorithms. Model parameterizations are needed to determine if sea-ice production has increased in crucial areas, and if so, why (e.g., stronger winds or fresher oceans). The remote sensing validation will facilitate change detection over wider areas and verify model predictions over time. Accordingly this project will contribute to the international Southern Ocean Observing System (SOOS) goal of measuring essential climate variables continuously to monitor the state of the ocean and ice cover into the future.
Evidence from the eastern Ross Sea continental shelf indicates that the West Antarctic Ice Sheet advanced and retreated during the last glacial cycle, but it is unclear whether the ice sheet advanced to the shelf edge or just to the middle shelf. These two end-member scenarios offer different interpretations as to why, how, and when the West Antarctic Ice Sheet oscillated. The PI proposes to acquire seismic, multibeam, and core data from Whales Deep, to evaluate the timing and duration of two advances of grounded ice to the outer and middle shelf of the Whales Deep Basin, a West Antarctic Ice Sheet paleo ice stream trough in eastern Ross Sea. Grounding events are represented by seismically resolvable Grounding Zone Wedges. The PI will collect radiocarbon dates on in situ benthic foraminifera from the grounding zone diamict as well as ramped pyrolysis radiocarbon dates on acid insoluble organics from open-marine mud overlying the grounding zone diamict. Using these data the PI will calculate the duration of the two grounding events. Furthermore, the PI will test a numerical model prediction that West Antarctic Ice Sheet retreat must have involved melting at the marine terminus of the ice sheet. Pore-water from the grounding zone diamict will be extracted from piston cores to determine salinity and δ18O values that should indicate if significant melting occurred at the grounding line.
The data collected will provide constraints on the timing and pattern of Last Glacial Maximum advance and retreat that can be incorporated into interpretations of ice-surface elevation changes. The proposed activities will provide valuable field and research training to undergraduate/graduate students and a Louisiana high-school science teacher. The research will be interactively shared with middle- and high-school science students and with visitors to the LSU Museum of Natural Science Weekend-Science Program.
The McMurdo Dry Valleys, Antarctica, are a mosaic of terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems in a cold desert. The McMurdo Long Term Ecological Research (LTER) project has been observing these ecosystems since 1993 and this award will support key long-term measurements, manipulation experiments, synthesis, and modeling to test current theories on ecosystem structure and function. Data collection is focused on meteorology and physical and biological dimensions of soils, streams, lakes, glaciers, and permafrost. The long-term measurements show that biological communities have adapted to the seasonally cold, dark, and arid conditions that prevail for all but a short period in the austral summer. Physical (climate and geological) drivers impart a dynamic connectivity among portions of the Dry Valley landscape over seasonal to millennial time scales. For instance, lakes and soils have been connected through cycles of lake-level rise and fall over the past 20,000 years while streams connect glaciers to lakes over seasonal time scales. Overlaid upon this physical system are biotic communities that are structured by the environment and by the movement of individual organisms within and between the glaciers, streams, lakes, and soils. The new work to be conducted at the McMurdo LTER site will explore how the layers of connectivity in the McMurdo Dry Valleys influence ecosystem structure and function.
This project will test the hypothesis that increased ecological connectivity following enhanced melt conditions within the McMurdo Dry Valleys ecosystem will amplify exchange of biota, energy, and matter, homogenizing ecosystem structure and functioning. This hypothesis will be tested with new and continuing experiments that examine: 1) how climate variation alters connectivity among landscape units, and 2) how biota are connected across a heterogeneous landscape using state-of-the-science tools and methods including automated sensor networks, analysis of seasonal satellite imagery, biogeochemical analyses, and next-generation sequencing. McMurdo LTER education programs and outreach activities will be continued, and expanded with new programs associated with the 200th anniversary of the first recorded sightings of Antarctica. These activities will advance societal understanding of how polar ecosystems respond to change. McMurdo LTER will continue its mission of training and mentoring students, postdocs, and early career scientists as the next generation of leaders in polar ecosystem science, and lead the development of international environmental stewardship protocols for human activities in the region.
Methane is a potent greenhouse gas that is naturally emitted into the oceans by geologic seeps and microbial production. Based on studies of persistent deep-sea seeps at mid- and northern latitudes, researchers have learned that bacteria and archaea can create a "sediment filter" that oxidizes methane prior to its release. Antarctica is thought to contain large reservoirs of organic carbon buried beneath its ice which could a quantity of methane equivalent to all of the permafrost in the Arctic and yet we know almost nothing about the methane oxidizing microbes in this region. How these microbial communities develop and potentially respond to fluctuations in methane levels is an under-explored avenue of research. A bacterial mat was recently discovered at 78 degrees south, suggesting the possible presence of a methane seep, and associated microbial communities. This project will explore this environment in detail to assess the levels and origin of methane, and the nature of the microbial ecosystem present. <br/> <br/>An expansive bacterial mat appeared and/or was discovered at 78 degrees south in 2011. This site, near McMurdo Station Antarctica, has been visited since the mid-1960s, but this mat was not observed until 2011. The finding of this site provides an unusual opportunity to study an Antarctic marine benthic habitat with active methane cycling and to examine the dynamics of recruitment and community succession of seep fauna including bacteria, archaea, protists and metazoans. This project will collect the necessary baseline data to facilitate further studies of Antarctic methane cycling. The concentration and source of methane will be determined at this site and at potentially analogous sites in McMurdo Sound. In addition to biogeochemical characterization of the sites, molecular analysis of the microbial community will quantify the time scales on which bacteria and archaea respond to methane input and provide information on rates of community development and succession in the Southern Ocean. Project activities will facilitate the training of at least one graduate student and results will be shared at both local and international levels. A female graduate student will be mentored as part of this project and data collected will form part of her dissertation. Lectures will be given in K-12 classrooms in Oregon to excite students about polar science. National and international audiences will be reached through blogs and presentations at a scientific conference. The PI's previous blogs have been used by K-12 classrooms as part of their lesson plans and followed in over 65 countries.<br/>
Marine ecosystems under large ice shelves are thought to contain sparse, low-diversity plankton and seafloor communities due the low supply of food from productive sunlight waters. Past studies have shown sub-ice shelf ecosystems to change in response to altered oceanographic processes resulting from ice-shelve retreat. However, information on community changes and ecosystem structure under ice shelves are limited because sub-ice-shelf ecosystems have either been sampled many years after ice-shelf breakout, or have been sampled through small boreholes, yielding extremely limited spatial information. The recent breakout of the A-68 iceberg from the Larsen C ice shelf in the western Weddell Sea provides an opportunity to use a ship-based study to evaluate benthic communities and water column characteristics in an area recently vacated by a large overlying ice shelf. The opportunity will allow spatial assessments at the time of transition from an under ice-shelf environment to one initially exposed to conditions more typical of a coastal Antarctic marine setting. \r\n\r\n\r\n\r\nThis RAPID project will help determine the state of a coastal Antarctic ecosystem newly exposed from ice-shelf cover and will aid in understanding of rates of community change during transition. The project will conduct a 10-day field program, allowing contrasts to be made of phytoplankton and seafloor megafaunal communities in areas recently exposed by ice-shelf loss to areas exposed for many decades. The project will be undertaken in a collaborative manner with the South Korean Antarctic Agency, KOPRI, by participating in a cruise in March/May 2018. Combining new information in the area of Larsen C with existing observations after the Larsen A and B ice shelf breakups further to the north, the project is expected to generate a dataset that can elucidate fundamental processes of planktonic and benthic community development in transition from food-poor to food-rich ecosystems. The project will provide field experience to two graduate students, a post-doctoral associate and an undergraduate student. Material from the project will be incorporated into graduate courses and the project will communicate daily work and unfolding events through social media and blogs while they explore this area of the world that is largely underexplored.
Omelon, Christopher; Breecker, Daniel; Bennett, Philip
No dataset link provided
Cryptoendoliths are organisms that colonize microscopic cavities of rocks, which give them protection and allow them to inhabit extreme environments, such as the cold, arid desert of the Dry Valleys of Antarctica. Fossilized cryptoendoliths preserve the forms and features of organisms from the past and thus provide a unique opportunity to study the organisms' life histories and environments. To study this fossil record, there needs to be a better understanding of what environmental conditions allow these fossils to form. A climate gradient currently exists in the Dry Valleys that allows us to study living, dead, and fossilized cryptoendoliths from mild to increasingly harsh environments; providing insight to the limits of life and how these fossils are formed. This project will develop instruments to detect the biological activity of the live microorganisms and conduct laboratory experiments to determine the environmental limits of their survival. The project also will characterize the chemical and structural features of the living, dead, and fossilized cryptoendoliths to understand how they become fossilized. Knowing how microorganisms are preserved as fossils in cold and dry environments like Antarctica can help to refine methods that can be used to search for and identify evidence for extraterrestrial life in similar habitats on planets such as Mars. This project includes training of graduate and undergraduate students.
Little is known about cryptoendolithic microfossils and their formation processes in cold, arid terrestrial habitats of the Dry Valleys of Antarctica, where a legacy of activity is discernible in the form of biosignatures including inorganic materials and microbial fossils that preserve and indicate traces of past biological activity. The overarching goals of the proposed work are: (1) to determine how rates of microbial respiration and biodegradation of organic matter control microbial fossilization; and (2) to characterize microbial fossils and their living counterparts to elucidate mechanisms for fossilization. Using samples collected across an increasingly harsher (more cold and dry) climatic gradient that encompasses living, dead, and fossilized cryptoendolithic microorganisms, the proposed work will: (1) develop an instrument to be used in the field that can measure small concentrations of CO2 in cryptoendolithic habitats in situ; (2) use microscopy techniques to characterize endolithic microorganisms as well as the chemical and morphological characteristics of biosignatures and microbial fossils. A metagenomic survey of microbial communities in these samples will be used to characterize differences in diversity, identify if specific microorganisms (e.g. prokaryotes, eukaryotes) are more capable of surviving under these harsh climatic conditions, and to corroborate microscopic observations of the viability states of these microorganisms.
Recent observations and model results suggest that collapse of the Amundsen Sea sector of West Antarctica may already be underway. However, the timeline of collapse and the effects of ongoing climatic and oceanographic changes are key unanswered questions. Complete disintegration of the ice sheet would raise global sea level by more than 3 m, which would have significant societal impacts. Improved understanding of the controls on ice-sheet evolution is needed to make better predictions of ice-sheet behavior. Results from numerical models show that buttressing from surrounding ice shelves and/or from small-scale grounded ice rises should act to slow the retreat and discharge of ice from the interior ice sheet. However, there are very few field observations with which to develop and validate models. Field observations conducted in the early 1980s on Crary Ice Rise in the Ross Sea Embayment are a notable exception. This project will revisit Crary Ice Rise with new tools to make a suite of measurements designed to address questions about how the ice rise affects ice discharge from the Ross Sea sector of West Antarctica. The team will include a graduate and undergraduate student, and will participate in a range of outreach activities.<br/><br/>New tools including radar, seismic, and GPS instruments will be used to conduct targeted geophysical measurements both on Crary Ice Rise and across its grounding line. The project will use these new measurements, together with available ancillary data to inform a numerical model of grounding line dynamics. The model and measurements will be used to address the (1) How has the ice rise evolved over timescales ranging from: the past few decades; the past millennia after freeze-on; and through the deglaciation? (2) What history of ice dynamics is preserved in the radar-detected internal stratigraphy? (3) What dynamical effect does the presence/absence of the ice rise have on discharge of the Ross Ice Streams today? (4) How is it contributing to the slow-down of the proximal Whillans and Mercer ice streams? (5) What dynamical response will the ice rise have under future environmental change?
In order to understand what environmental conditions might look like for future generations, we need to turn to archives of past times when the world was indeed warmer, before anyone was around to commit them to collective memory. The geologic record of Earth's past offers a glimpse of what could be in store for the future. Research by Ivany and her team looks to Antarctica during a time of past global warmth to see how seasonality of temperature and rainfall in coastal settings are likely to change in the future. They will use the chemistry of fossils (a natural archive of these variables) to test a provocative hypothesis about near-monsoonal conditions in the high latitudes when the oceans are warm. If true, we can expect high-latitude shipping lanes to become more hazardous and fragile marine ecosystems adapted to constant cold temperatures to suffer. With growing information about how human activities are likely to affect the planet in the future, we will be able to make more informed decisions about policies today. This research involves an international team of scholars, including several women scientists, training of graduate students, and a public museum exhibit to educate children about how we study Earth's ancient climate and what we can learn from it.<br/><br/>Antarctica is key to an understanding how Earth?s climate system works under conditions of elevated CO2. The poles are the most sensitive regions on the planet to climate change, and the equator-to-pole temperature gradient and the degree to which high-latitude warming is amplified are important components for climate models to capture. Accurate proxy data with good age control are therefore critical for testing numerical models and establishing global patterns. The La Meseta Formation on Seymour Island is the only documented marine section from the globally warm Eocene Epoch exposed in outcrop on the continent; hence its climate record is integral to studies of warming. Early data suggest the potential for strongly seasonal precipitation and runoff in coastal settings. This collaboration among paleontologists, geochemists, and climate modelers will test this using seasonally resolved del-18O data from fossil shallow marine bivalves to track the evolution of seasonality through the section, in combination with independent proxies for the composition of summer precipitation (leaf wax del-D) and local seawater (clumped isotopes). The impact of the anticipated salinity stratification on regional climate will be evaluated in the context of numerical climate model simulations. In addition to providing greater clarity on high-latitude conditions during this time of high CO2, the combination of proxy and model results will provide insights about how Eocene warmth may have been maintained and how subsequent cooling came about. As well, a new approach to the analysis of shell carbonates for 87Sr/86Sr will allow refinements in age control so as to allow correlation of this important section with other regions to clarify global climate gradients. The project outlined here will develop new and detailed paleoclimate records from existing samples using well-tuned as well as newer proxies applied here in novel ways. Seasonal extremes are climate parameters generally inaccessible to most studies but critical to an understanding of climate change; these are possible to resolve in this well-preserved, accretionary-macrofossil-bearing section. This is an integrated study that links marine and terrestrial climate records for a key region of the planet across the most significant climate transition in the Cenozoic.
Since the advent of Antarctic continental glaciation, the opening of the Drake Passage between South America and the Antarctic Peninsula, and the onset of cooling of the Southern Ocean ~40-25 million years ago, evolution of the Antarctic marine biota has been driven by the development of extreme cold temperatures. As circum-Antarctic coastal temperatures declined during this period from ~20°C to the modern -1.9 to +2.0°C (reached ~8-10 million years ago), the psychrophilic (cold-loving) ectotherms of the Southern Ocean evolved compensatory molecular, cellular, and physiological traits that enabled them to maintain normal metabolic function at cold temperatures. Today, these organisms are threatened by rapid warming of the Southern Ocean over periods measured in centuries (as much as 5°C/100 yr), a timeframe so short that re-adaptation and/or acclimatization to the "new warm" may not be possible. Thus, the long-term goals of this research project are: 1) to understand the biochemical and physiological capacities of the embryos of Antarctic notothenioid fish to resist or compensate for rapid oceanic warming; and 2) to assess the genetic toolkit available to support the acclimatization and adaptation of Antarctic notothenioid embryos to their warming habitat. The specific aims of this work are: 1) to determine the capacity of the chaperonin complex of notothenioid fishes to assist protein folding at temperatures between -4 and +20°C; and 2) to evaluate the genetic responses of notothenioid embryos, measured as global differential gene transcription, to temperature challenge, with -1.9°C as the "normal" control and +4 and +10°C as high temperature insults.
The physiology of embryonic development of marine stenotherms under future climate change scenarios is an important but understudied problem. This project will provide valuable insights into the capacity of Antarctic fish embryos to acclimatize and adapt to plausible climate change scenarios by examining multiple levels of biological organization, from the biochemical to the organismal. The results should also be broadly applicable to understanding the impact of global warming on marine biota worldwide. The research will also introduce graduate and undergraduate students to state-of-the-art biochemical, cellular, and molecular-biological research relevant to ecological and environmental issues of the Antarctic marine ecosystem.
The goal of this project was to conduct a preliminary assessment of gut microbiomes in Antarctic krill (Euphasia superba) collected in coastal waters west of the Antarctic Peninsula and identify organisms potentially capable of catalyzing the production of methylmercury. DNA was extracted from composite krill digestive tracts and eukaryotic DNA removed. Prokaryotic microbial DNA extracted from krill digestive tracts was sequenced and gene libraries were constructed. Genera of anaerobic microorganisms which are known to support mercury methylation were identified.
Ice shelves are the floating portions of glaciers that terminate in the ocean. They are common around the periphery of Antarctica. The accumulation of surface meltwater on or near the surface of ice shelves can play a role in ice-shelf collapse, which leads to accelerated loss of grounded ice and sea-level rise. Recent studies have showed that present-day meltwater generation and movement across the surface of Antarctica is more widespread than previously thought and is expected to increase. Consequently, there is a growing need to address the role of surface water in forecasts of ice-shelf behavior. While much progress has been made, understanding of the role of water in ice-shelf collapse is still in its infancy. This award supports a workshop that will bring together experts from multiple disciplines that, together, can advance understanding of Antarctic surface hydrology and its role in the future stability of ice shelves. This workshop will bring together U.S. and international scientists with expertise in ice-sheet dynamics, glacial hydrology, climatology, and other disciplines to identify critical knowledge gaps and move the community towards answering fundamental questions such as: What climate dynamics are responsible for surface meltwater generation in Antarctica? What controls the spatiotemporal distribution of meltwater ponds on Antarctic ice shelves? Where is meltwater generated, where does it pond today, and how will this change this century? How will meltwater impact ice shelves? How will surface hydrology impact sea-level this century? The deliberations will be captured in a workshop report.
Intellectual Merit:<br/>Ice free rock outcrops in the Transantarctic Mountains provide the only accessible windows into the interior of the ice covered Antarctic continent; they are extremely remote and difficult to study. This region also hosts the highest latitude ice-free valley systems on the planet. Based on two interdisciplinary workshops, the Transantarctic region near the Shackleton Glacier has been identified as a high priority site for further studies, with a field camp proposed for the 2015-2016 Antarctic field season. The geology of this region has been studied since the heroic era of Antarctic exploration, in the early 1900s, but geologic mapping has not been updated in more than forty years, and existing maps are at poor resolution (typically 1:250,000).<br/><br/>This project would utilize the WorldView-2 multispectral orbital dataset to supplement original geologic mapping efforts near the proposed 2015-2016 Shackleton Glacier camp. The WorldView-2 satellite is the only multispectral orbiting sensor capable of imaging the entirety of the Transantarctic Mountains, and all necessary data are currently available to the Polar Geospatial Center. High-latitude atmospheric correction of multispectral data for geologic investigations has only recently been tested, but has never been applied to WorldView-2 data, and never for observations of this type. Therefore, this research will require technique refinements and methodological developements to accomplish the goals. Atmospheric correction refinements and spectral validation will be made possible by laboratory spectroscopic measurements of rock samples currently stored at the U.S. Polar Rock Repository, at the Ohio State University. This project will result in spectral unit identification and boundary mapping at a factor of four higher resolution (1:62,500) than previous geologic mapping efforts, and more detailed investigations (1:5,123) are possible at resolutions more than a factor of forty-eight improved over previous geologic maps. Validated spectral mapping at these improved resolutions will allow for detailed lithologic, and potentially biologic, mapping using existing satellite imagery. This will greatly enhance planning capabilities, thus maximizing the efficiency of the scientific research and support logistics associated with the Shackleton Glacier deep field camp.<br/><br/>Broader impacts:<br/>The proposed work will have multiple impacts on the broader scientific community. First, the refinement of existing atmospheric correction methodologies, and the development of new spectral mapping techniques, may substantially improve our ability to remotely investigate geologic surfaces throughout Antarctica. The ability to validate this orbital dataset will be of use to both current and future geologic, environmental, and biologic studies, potentially across the entire continent. The project will yield a specific spectral mapping product (at a scale of 1:62,500) to the scientific community by a targeted date of 01 March 2014, in order to support proposals submitted to the National Science Foundation for the proposed 2015/2016 Shackleton Glacier camp. High-resolution spectral mapping products (up to a maximum resolution of 2 meters per pixel) will also be generated for regions of particular scientific interest. The use of community based resources, such as Polar Geospatial Center (PGC) imagery and U.S. Polar Rock Repository rock samples, will generate new synergistic and collaborative research possibilities within the Antarctic research community. In addition, the lead PI (Salvatore) is an early career scientist who is active in both Antarctic and planetary remote sensing. There are overlaps in the calibration, correction, and validation of remote spectral datasets for Antarctic and planetary applications which can lead to benefits and insights to an early career PI, as well as the two communities.
This project will study the dynamics of Circumpolar Deep Water intruding on the continental shelf of the West Antarctic coast, and the effect of this intrusion on the production of cold, dense bottom water, and melting at the base of floating glaciers and ice tongues. It will concentrate on the Amundsen Sea shelf, specifically in the region of the Pine Island Glacier, the Thwaites Glacier, and the Getz Ice Shelf. Circumpolar Deep Water (CDW) is a relatively warm water mass (warmer than +1.0 deg Celsius) which is normally confined to the outer edge of the continental shelf by an oceanic front separating this water mass from colder and saltier shelf waters. In the Amundsen Sea however, the deeper parts of the continental shelf are filled with nearly undiluted CDW, which is mixed upward, delivering significant amounts of heat to the base of the floating glacier tongues and the ice shelf. The melt rate beneath the Pine Island Glacier averages ten meters of ice per year with local annual rates reaching twenty meters. By comparison, melt rates beneath the Ross Ice Shelf are typically twenty to forty centimeters of ice per year. In addition, both the Pine Island and the Thwaites Glacier are extremely fast-moving, and have a significant effect on the regional ice mass balance of West Antarctica. This project therefore has an important connection to antarctic glaciology, particularly in assessing the combined effect of global change on the antarctic environment. The particular objectives of the project are (1) to delineate the frontal structure on the continental shelf sufficiently to define quantitatively the major routes of CDW inflow, meltwater outflow, and the westward evolution of CDW influence; (2) to use the obtained data set to validate a three-dimensional model of sub-ice ocean circulation that is currently under construction, and (3) to refine the estiamtes of in situ melting on the mass balance of the antarctic ice sheet. The observational program will be carried out from the research vessel Nathaniel B. Palmer in February and March, 1999.
The Southern Ocean surrounding Antarctica is changing rapidly in response to Earth's warming climate. These changes will undoubtedly influence communities of primary producers (the organisms at the base of the food chain, particularly plant-like organisms using sunlight for energy) by altering conditions that influence their growth and composition. Because primary producers such as phytoplankton play an important role in global biogeochemical cycling, it is essential to understand how they will respond to changes in their environment. The growth of phytoplankton in certain regions of the Southern Ocean is constrained by steep gradients in chemical and physical properties that vary in both space and time. Light and iron have been identified as key variables influencing phytoplankton abundance and distribution within Antarctic waters. Microscopic algae known as diatoms are dominant members of the phytoplankton and sea ice communities, accounting for significant proportions of primary production. The overall objective of this project is to identify the molecular bases for the physiological responses of polar diatoms to varying light and iron conditions. The project should provide a means of evaluating the extent these factors regulate diatom growth and influence net community productivity in Antarctic waters. Although numerous studies have investigated how polar diatoms are affected by varying light and iron, the cellular mechanisms leading to their distinct physiological responses remain unknown. We observed several growth responses, but a majority of polar diatom growth rates and photophysiology did not appear to be co-limited by iron and light limitation. Using comparative transcriptomics, we have examined the expression patterns of key genes and metabolic pathways in several ecologically important polar diatoms isolated from Antarctic waters and grown under varying iron and irradiance conditions. In addition, molecular indicators for iron and light limitation will be developed within these polar diatoms through the identification of iron- and light-responsive genes -- the expression patterns of which can be used to determine their physiological status. Upon verification in laboratory cultures, these indicators will be utilized by way of metatranscriptomic sequencing to examine iron and light limitation in natural diatom assemblages collected along environmental gradients in Western Antarctic Peninsula waters. In order to fully understand the role phytoplankton play in Southern Ocean biogeochemical cycles, dependable methods that provide a means of elucidating the physiological status of phytoplankton at any given time and location are essential.
The Western Antarctic Peninsula is experiencing climate change at one of the fastest rates of anywhere around the globe. Accelerated climate change is likely to affect the many benthic marine invertebrates that live within narrow temperature windows along the Antarctic Continental Shelf in presently unidentified ways. At present however, there are few data on the physiological consequences of climate change on the sensitive larval stages of cold-water corals, and none on species living in thermal extremes such as polar waters. This project will collect the larvae of the non-seasonal, brooding scleractinian Flabellum impensum to be used in a month-long climate change experiment at Palmer Station. Multidisciplinary techniques will be used to examine larval development and cellular stress using a combination of electron microscopy, flow cytometry, and Inductively Coupled Plasma Mass Spectometry. Data from this project will form the first systematic study of the larval stages of polar cold-water corals, and how these stages are affected by temperature stress at the cellular and developmental level. <br/><br/>Cold-water corals have been shown to be important ecosystem engineers, providing habitat for thousands of associated species, including many that are of commercial importance. Understanding how the larvae of these corals react to warming trends seen today in our oceans will allow researchers to predict future changes in important benthic communities around the globe. Associated education and outreach include: 1) Increasing student participation in polar research by involving postdoctoral and undergraduate students in the field and research program; ii) promotion of K-12 teaching and learning programs by providing information via a research website, Twitter, and in-school talks in the local area; iii) making the data collected available to the wider research community via peer reviewed published literature and iv) reaching a larger public audience through such venues as interviews in the popular media, You Tube and other popular media outlets, and local talks to the general public.
The coastal environments of the western Antarctic Peninsula harbor rich assemblages of marine animals and algae. The importance of the interactions between these groups of organisms in the ecology of coastal Antarctica are well known and often mediated by chemical defenses in the tissues of the algae. These chemicals are meant to deter feeding by snails and other marine animals making the Antarctic Peninsula an excellent place to ask important questions about the functional and evolutionary significance of chemical compound diversity for marine communities. This project will focus on three main objectives: the first objective is to expand the current understanding of the relationship between algae and their associated marine animals. The second objective focuses on the diversity of chemical compounds used to defend algae from being consumed. The third objective seeks to understand how marine animals can benefit from these compounds by consuming the algae that contain them, and then using those compounds to chemically deter predators. The field components of this research will be performed during three expeditions to the US Palmer Station, Antarctica. During these expeditions, a variety of laboratory feeding bioassays, manipulative field and laboratory experiments, and on-site chemical analyses will be performed. The investigators will also foster opportunities to integrate their NSF research with a variety of educational activities. As in the past they will support undergraduate research, both through NSF programs as well as home, university-based, programs, and they will also continue to support and foster graduate education. Through their highly successful University of Alabama in Antarctica interactive web program (two time recipient of awards of excellence from the US Council for Advancement and Support of Education), they will continue to involve large numbers of teachers, K-12 students, and other members of the community at large in their scientific endeavors in Antarctica. In addition, the investigators have hosted K-12 teachers on their Antarctic field teams through the former NSF Teachers Experiencing Antarctica and the Arctic program and will pursue participation in PolarTREC, the successor to this valuable program. Moreover, they will actively participate in outreach efforts by presenting numerous talks on their research to local school and community groups. <br/><br/>The near shore environments of the western Antarctic Peninsula harbor rich assemblages of macroalgae and macroinvertebrates. The importance of predator-prey interactions and chemical defenses in mediating community-wide trophic interactions makes the western Antarctic Peninsula an excellent place to ask important questions about the functional and evolutionary significance of defensive compound diversity for marine communities. This project will focus on three main objectives which are a direct outcome of the past studies of the chemical ecology of shallow-water marine macroalgae and invertebrates on the Antarctic Peninsula by this group of investigators. The first objective is to expand the current understanding of a community-wide mutualism between macroalgae and their associated amphipods to include gastropods, which are also abundant on many macroalgae. The second objective focuses on the diversity of chemical compounds used to defend macroalgae from being consumed, particularly in the common red alga Plocamium cartilagineum. The third objective seeks to understand the relationship between P. cartilagineum and the amphipod Paradexamine fissicauda, including the ecological benefits and costs to P. fissicauda resulting from the ability to consume P. cartilagineum and other chemically defended red algae. The investigators will focus on the costs and benefits related to the ability of P. fissicauda to sequester defensive compounds from the alga P. cartilagineum and use those chemicals to defend itself from predation. The field components of this research will be performed during three expeditions to Palmer Station, Antarctica. During these expeditions, a variety of laboratory feeding bioassays, manipulative field and laboratory experiments, and on-site chemical analyses will be performed. Phylogenetic analyses, detailed secondary metabolite chemical analyses and purifications, and other data analyses will also be performed at the investigators' home institutions between and after their field seasons.
The grant was for the re-curation of the Antarctic Sediment collection and prepare the collection for transportation to Oregon State University. The move of the cores took place in July and August of 2018. A total of 18,512 m of core was transferred which consisted of 8,787 large diameter D-tubes, 2,968 small diameteer D-tubed and 4,998 core boxes. In addition that were an additional 729 totes with samples. </br> In addition in the last two years of the core facility at FSU we filled 20 sample requests and accommodated 6 visits to the collection for sampling by the PI.
Intellectual Merit: The PIs continued and expanded GPS and seismic measurements for ANET-POLENET to advance understanding of geodynamic processes and their influence on the West Antarctic Ice Sheet. ANET-POLENET science themes include: 1) determining ice mass change since the last glacial maximum, including modern ice mass balance; 2) solid earth influence on ice sheet dynamics; and 3) tectonic evolution of West Antarctica and feedbacks with ice sheet evolution. Nine new remote continuous GPS stations augmented ANET-POLENET instrumentation deployed during Phase 1. Siting was designed to better constrain uplift centers predicted by GIA models and indicated by Phase 1 results. A mini-array of temporary seismic sites was deployed to improve resolution of earth structure below West Antarctica. ANET-POLENET Phase 2 achievements included 1) seismic images of crust and mantle structure that resolve the highly heterogeneous thermal and viscosity structure of the Antarctic lithosphere and underlying mantle; 2) improved estimates of intraplate vertical and horizontal bedrock crustal motions; and 3) elucidation of controls on glacial isostatic adjustment-induced crustal motions due to laterally varying earth structure.
Broader impacts: Monitoring and understanding mass change and dynamic behavior of the Antarctic ice sheet using in situ GPS and seismological studies has improved understanding of how Antarctic ice sheets respond to a warming world and how this response impacts sea-level and other global changes. Seismic and geodetic data collected by the ANET-POLENET network are openly available to the scientific community. ANET-POLENET has been integral in the development and realization of technological and logistical innovations for year-round operation of instrumentation at remote polar sites, helping to advance scientifically and geographically broad studies of the polar regions. The ANET-POLENET carried out a training initiative to mentor young polar scientists in complex, multidisciplinary and internationally collaborative research, including 2 week-long training schools on "Glacial Isostatic Adjustment" and "Glacial Seismology". ANET-POLENET continued broad public outreach about polar science through the polenet.org website, university lectures, and K-12 school visits. This research involved multiple international partners.
Worldwide publicity surrounding the calving of an iceberg the size of Delaware in July 2017 from the Larsen C Ice Shelf on the eastern side of the Antarctic Peninsula presents a unique and time-sensitive opportunity for research and education on polar ecosystems in a changing climate. The goal of this project was to convene a workshop, drawing from the large fund of intellectual capital in the US and international Antarctic research communities. The two-day workshop was designed to bring scientists with expertise in Antarctic biological, ecological, and ecosystem sciences to Florida State University to share knowledge, identify important research knowledge gaps, and outline strategic plans for research.
Major outcomes from the project were as follows. The international workshop to share and review knowledge concerning the response of Antarctic ecosystems to ice-shelf collapse was held at the Florida State University Coastal and Marine Laboratory (FSUCML) on 18-19 November 2017. Thirty-eight U.S. and international scientists attended the workshop, providing expertise in biological, ecological, geological, biogeographical, and glaciological sciences. Twenty-six additional scientists were either not able to attend or were declined because of having reached maximum capacity of the venue or for not responding to our invitation before the registration deadline.
The latest results of ice-shelf research were presented, providing an overview of the current scientific knowledge and understanding of the biological, ecological,
geological and cryospheric processes associated with ice-shelf collapse and its
ecosystem-level consequences. In addition, several presentations focused on future plans to investigate the impacts of the recent Larsen C collapse. The following presentations were given at the meeting:
1) Cryospheric dynamics and ice-shelf collapse – past and future (M. Truffer,
University of Alaska, Fairbanks)
2) The geological history and geological impacts of ice-shelf collapse on the Antarctic Peninsula (Scottt Ishman, Amy Leventer)
3) Pelagic ecosystem responses to ice-shelf collapse (Mattias Cape, Amy Leventer)
4) Benthic ecosystem response to ice-shelf collapse (Craig Smith, Pavica Sršen, Ann Vanreusel)
5) Larsen C and biotic homogenization of the benthos (Richard Aronson, James
McClintock, Kathryn Smith, Brittany Steffel)
6) British Antarctic Survey: plans for Larsen C investigations early 2018 and in the
future (Huw Griffiths)
7) Feedback on the workshop “Climate change impacts on marine ecosystems:
implications for management of living resources and conservation” held 19-22
September 2017, Cambridge, UK (Alex Rogers)
8) Past research activities and plans for Larsen field work by the Alfred Wegener
Institute, Germany (Charlotte Havermans, Dieter Piepenburg.
One of the salient points emerging from the presentations and ensuing discussions was that, given our poor abilities to predict ecological outcomes of ice-shelf collapses, major cross-disciplinary efforts are needed on a variety of spatial and temporal scales to achieve a broader, predictive understanding of ecosystem
consequences of climatic warming and ice-shelf failure. As part of the workshop, the FSUCML Polar Academy Team—Dr. Emily Dolan, Dr. Heidi Geisz, Barbara Shoplock, and Dr. Jeroen Ingels—initiated AntICE: "Antarctic Influences of Climate Change on Ecosystems" (AntICE). They reached out to various groups of school children in the local area (and continue to do so). The AntICE Team have been interacting with these children at Wakulla High School and Wakulla Elementary in Crawfordville; children from the Cornerstone Learning Community, Maclay Middle School, Gilchrist Elementary, and the School of Arts and Sciences in Tallahassee; and the Tallahassee-area homeschooling community to educate them about Antarctic ecosystems and ongoing climate change. The underlying idea was to
make the children aware of climatic changes in the Antarctic and their effect on
ecosystems so they, in turn, can spread this knowledge to their communities, family
and friends – acting as ‘Polar Ambassadors’. We collaborated with the Polar-ICE
project, an NSF-funded educational project that established the Polar Literacy
Initiative. This program developed the Polar Literacy Principles, which outline
essential concepts to improve public understanding of Antarctic and Arctic
ecosystems. In the Polar Academy work, we used the Polar Literacy principles, the
Polar Academy Team’s own Antarctic scientific efforts, and the experience of the FSU outreach and education program to engage with the children. We focused on the importance of Antarctic organisms and ecosystems, the uniqueness of its biota and the significance of its food webs, as well as how all these are changing and will
change further with climate change. Using general presentations, case studies,
scientific methodology, individual experiences, interactive discussions and Q&A
sessions, the children were guided through the many issues Antarctic ecosystems
are facing. Over 300 'Polar ambassadors' attended the interactive lectures and
afterwards took their creativity to high latitudes by creating welcome letters, displays, dioramas, sculptures, videos and online media to present at the scientific workshop. Over 50 projects were created by the children (Please see supporting files for images). We were also joined by a photographer, Ryan David Reines, to document the event. More information, media and links to online outreach products are available at https://marinelab.fsu.edu/labs/ingels/outreach/polar-academy/
Marine communities along the western Antarctic Peninsula are highly productive ecosystems which support a diverse assemblage of charismatic animals such as penguins, seals, and whales as well as commercial fisheries such as that on Antarctic krill. Fjords (long, narrow, deep inlets of the sea between high cliffs) along the central coast of the Peninsula appear to be intense, potentially climate sensitive, hotspots of biological production and biodiversity, yet the structure and dynamics of these fjord ecosystems are very poorly understood. Because of this intense biological activity and the charismatic fauna it supports, these fjords are also major destinations for a large Antarctic tourism industry. This project is an integrated field and modeling program to evaluate physical oceanographic processes, glacial inputs, water column community dynamics, and seafloor bottom community structure and function in these important yet little understood fjord systems. These Antarctic fjords have characteristics that are substantially different from well-studied Arctic fjords, likely yielding much different responses to climate warming. This project will provide major new insights into the dynamics and climate sensitivity of Antarctic fjord ecosystems, highlighting contrasts with Arctic sub-polar fjords, and potentially transforming our understanding of the ecological role of fjords in the rapidly warming west Antarctic coastal marine landscape. The project will also further the NSF goal of training new generations of scientists, providing scientific training for undergraduate, graduate, and postdoctoral students. This includes the unique educational opportunity for undergraduates to participate in research cruises in Antarctica and the development of a novel summer graduate course on fjord ecosystems. Internet based outreach activities will be enhanced and extended by the participation of a professional photographer who will produce magazine articles, websites, radio broadcasts, and other forms of public outreach on the fascinating Antarctic ecosystem. <br/><br/>This project will involve a 15-month field program to test mechanistic hypotheses concerning oceanographic and glaciological forcing, and phytoplankton and benthic community response in the Antarctic fjords. Those efforts will be followed by a coupled physical/biological modeling effort to evaluate the drivers of biogeochemical cycles in the fjords and to explore their potential sensitivity to enhanced meltwater and sediment inputs. Fieldwork over two oceanographic cruises will utilize moorings, weather stations, and glacial, sea-ice and seafloor time-lapse cameras to obtain an integrated view of fjord ecosystem processes. The field team will also make multiple shipboard measurements and will use towed and autonomous underwater vehicles to intensively evaluate fjord ecosystem structure and function during spring/summer and autumn seasons. These integrated field and modeling studies are expected to elucidate fundamental properties of water column and sea bottom ecosystem structure and function in the fjords, and to identify key physical-chemical-glaciological forcing in these rapidly warming ecosystems.
This award supported the attendance of 39 U.S. scientists at the 35th SCAR Open Science Conference (OSC) to enable them to present their scientific findings, develop new collaborations with international scientists and become involved in SCAR-related activities and SCAR specialist groups. In previous symposia, U.S. scientists have made important and significant contributions to the success of the SCAR Open Science Conferences. The SCAR-OSC provides a key platform for generating or augmenting international collaborations not generally available for graduate students and early-career researchers. The 35th SCAR-OSC meeting: Polar 2018 brought together Antarctic and Arctic researchers for a unique bi-polar event and exchange of information in Davos, Switzerland, June 19-23, 2018.
The scientific program for the SCAR Open Science Conference (OSC)/POLAR2018 emphasized interdisciplinary research that places Antarctica and the Southern Ocean in a global context, providing essential perspective for students and early-career researchers. The meeting was organized around 12 science themes that included polar (Arctic and Antarctic) physical, biological, and social sciences. In addition, there were a myriad of side-meetings, activities, trainings, and workshops surrounding the main sessions. NSF support for travel allowed a more diverse group of researchers to participate in defining the future direction of international Antarctic and polar research and encouraged global collaboration and cooperation. It augmented the training and development of graduate students and young investigators as they benefited from the opportunity to interact with the international community of Antarctic and Arctic researchers. Individuals at all levels (students to senior researchers) interested in engaging in international collaborative activities and, potentially, assuming active leadership roles in SCAR groups, were supported. 90% of the travel awards were made to students (undergraduate, MS and PhD) and post-doctoral scholar (<5 y from earned PhD).
This project supported US participation in the XIIth Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research (SCAR) International Biology Symposium. The theme of this meeting and ancillary workshops was Scale Matters. Meeting sessions specifically addressed biodiversity and physiology spanning from molecular through ecosystem scales.
The project provided partial support (airfare and meeting registration) for 20 US scientists to travel to Leuven, Belgium and attend the SCAR International Biology Symposium in July 2017. Preference was given to applicants who were students and early career scientists. The call for applications was broadly disseminated to encourage participation by underrepresented groups in the sciences. The SCAR International Biology Symposium is a unique opportunity for US scientists to present their work and learn about the most recent findings on all aspects of Antarctic organisms and ecosystems research, to establish and strengthen international contacts, and to be actively involved in the development of new directions and the establishment of new frontiers in polar biology.
There is compelling historical evidence that the West Antarctic Ice Sheet (WAIS) is vulnerable to rapid retreat and collapse. Recent observations, compared to observations made 20-30 years before, indicate that both ice shelves (thick ice with ocean below) and land ice (thick ice with land below), are now melting at a much faster rate. Some numerical models suggest that significant ice retreat may begin within many of our lifetimes, starting with the abrupt collapse of Pine Island and Thwaites Glaciers in the next 50 years. This may be followed by retreat of much of the WAIS and then the collapse of parts of the East Antarctic ice sheet (EAIS). This research project will assess the extent to which global ocean circulation and climate will be impacted if enormous volumes of fresh water and ice flow into the Southern Ocean. It will establish whether a rapid collapse of WAIS in the near-future poses any significant threat to the stability of modern-day climate and human society. This is a topic that has so far received little attention as most prior research has focused on the response of climate to melting the Greenland ice sheet. Yet model simulations predict that the volumes of fresh water and ice released from Antarctica in the next few centuries could be up at least ten-times larger than from Greenland. The Intellectual Merit of this project stems from its ability to establish a link between the physical Antarctic system (ice sheet dynamics, fresh water discharge and iceberg calving) and global climate. The PIs (Principal Investigators) will assess the sensitivity of ocean circulation and climate to increased ice sheet melt using a combination of ocean, iceberg, ice sheet and climate models. Results from this study will help identify areas of the ice sheet that are vulnerable to collapse and also regions of the ocean where a significant freshening will have a considerable impact on climate, and serve to guide the deployment of an observational monitoring system capable of warning us when ice and fresh water discharge start to approach levels capable of disrupting ocean circulation and global climate. This project will support and train two graduate students, and each PI will be involved with local primary and secondary schools, making presentations, mentoring science fair projects, and contributing to curriculum development. A novel, web-based, interactive, cryosphere learning tool will be developed to help make school children more aware of the importance of the Polar Regions in global climate, and this software will be introduced to science teachers at a half day workshop organized by the UMass STEM Education Institute. <br/><br/>Recent numerical simulations using a continental ice sheet/shelf model show the potential for more rapid and greater Antarctic ice sheet retreat in the next 50-300 years (under the full range of IPCC RCP (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Representative Concentration Pathways) future warming scenarios) than previously projected. Exactly how the release of enormous volumes of ice and fresh water to the Southern Ocean will impact global ocean circulation and climate has yet to be accurately assessed. This is in part because previous model simulations were too coarse to accurately resolve narrow coastal boundary currents, shelf breaks, fronts, and mesoscale eddies that are all very important for realistically simulating fresh water transport in the ocean. In this award, future projections of fresh water discharge and iceberg calving from Antarctic will be used to force a high resolution eddy-resolving ocean model (MITgcm) coupled to a new iceberg module and a fully-coupled global climate model (CCSM4). High resolution ocean/iceberg simulations will determine the role of mesoscale eddies in freshwater transport and give new insight into how fresh water is advected to far-field locations, including deep water formation sites in the North Atlantic. These simulations will provide detailed information about subsurface temperatures and changes in ocean circulation close to the ice front and grounding line. An accompanying set of fully coupled climate model simulations (NCAR CCSM4) will identify multidecadal-to-centennial changes in the climate system triggered by increased high-latitude Southern Ocean freshwater forcing. Particular attention will be given to changes in the strength of the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC), wind stress, sea ice formation, and global temperatures. In doing so, this project will more accurately determine whether abrupt and potentially catastrophic changes in global climate are likely to be triggered by changes in the Antarctic system in the near-future.
Gases trapped in ice cores have revealed astonishing things about the greenhouse gas composition of the past atmosphere, including the fact that carbon dioxide concentrations never rose above 300 parts per million during the last 800,000 years. This places today's concentration of 400 parts per million in stark contrast. Furthermore, these gas records show that natural sources of greenhouse gas such as oceans and ecosystems act as amplifiers of climate change by increasing emissions of gases during warmer periods. Such amplification is expected to occur in the future, adding to the human-produced gas burden. The South Pole ice core will build upon these prior findings by expanding the suite of gases to include, for the first time, those potent trace gases that both trapped heat and depleted ozone during the past 40,000 years. The present project on inert gases and methane in the South Pole ice core will improve the dating of this crucial record, to unprecedented precision, so that the relative timing of events can be used to learn about the mechanism of trace gas production and destruction, and consequent climate change amplification. Ultimately, this information will inform predictions of future atmospheric chemical cleansing mechanisms and climate in the context of our rapidly changing atmosphere. This award also engages young people in the excitement of discovery and polar research, helping to entrain the next generations of scientists and educators. Education of graduate students, a young researcher (Buizert), and training of technicians, will add to the nation?s human resource base. <br/> <br/>This award funds the construction of the gas chronology for the South Pole 1500m ice core, using measured inert gases (d15N and d40Ar--Nitrogen and Argon isotope ratios, respectively) and methane in combination with a next-generation firn densification model that treats the stochastic nature of air trapping and the role of impurities on densification. The project addresses fundamental gaps in scientific understanding that limit the accuracy of gas chronologies, specifically a poor knowledge of the controls on ice-core d15N and the possible role of layering and impurities in firn densification. These gaps will be addressed by studying the gas enclosure process in modern firn at the deep core site. The work will comprise the first-ever firn air pumping experiment that has tightly co-located measurements of firn structural properties on the core taken from the same borehole.<br/><br/>The project will test the hypothesis that the lock-in horizon as defined by firn air d15N, CO2, and methane is structurally controlled by impermeable layers, which are in turn created by high-impurity content horizons in which densification is enhanced. Thermal signals will be sought using the inert gas measurements, which improve the temperature record with benefits to the firn densification modeling. Neon, argon, and oxygen will be measured in firn air and a limited number of deep core samples to test whether glacial period layering was enhanced, which could explain low observed d15N in the last glacial period. Drawing on separate volcanic and methane synchronization to well-dated ice cores to create independent ice and gas tie points, independent empirical estimates of the gas age-ice age difference will be made to check the validity of the firn densification model-inert gas approach to calculating the gas age-ice age difference. These points will also be used to test whether the anomalously low d15N seen during the last glacial period in east Antarctic ice cores is due to deep air convection in the firn, or a missing impurity dependence in the firn densification models. <br/><br/>The increased physical understanding gained from these studies, combined with new high-precision measurements, will lead to improved accuracy of the gas chronology of the South Pole ice core, which will enhance the overall science return from this gas-oriented core. This will lead to clarification of timing of atmospheric gas variations and temperature, and aid in efforts to understand the biogeochemical feedbacks among trace gases. These feedbacks bear on the future response of the Earth System to anthropogenic forcing. Ozone-depleting substances will be measured in the South Pole ice core record, and a precise gas chronology will add value. Lastly, by seeking a better understanding of the physics of gas entrapment, the project aims to have an impact on ice-core science in general.
This EAGER project will compare gene expression patterns in the planktonic communities under ice covers that form in coastal embayment's in the Antarctic Peninsula. Previous efforts taking advantage of unique ice conditions in November and December of 2015 allowed researchers to conduct an experiment to examine the role of sea ice cover on microbial carbon and energy transfer during the winter-spring transition. The EAGER effort will enable the researchers to conduct the "omics" analyses of the phytoplankton to determine predominant means by which energy is acquired and used in these settings. This EAGER effort will apply new expertise to fill an existing gap in ecological observations along the West Antarctic Peninsula. The principle product of the proposed work will be a novel dataset to be analyzed and by an early career researcher from an underserved community (veteran). <br/><br/>The critical baseline data contained in this dataset enable a comparison of eukaryotic and prokaryotic gene expression patterns to establish the relative importance of chemoautotrophy, heterotrophy, mixotrophy, and phototrophy during the experiments. this information and data will be made immediately available to the broader scientific community, and will enable the development of further hypotheses on ecosystem change as sea ice cover changes in the region. Very little gene expression data is currently available for the Antarctic marine environment, and no gene expression data is available during the ecologically critical winter to spring transition. Moreover, ice cover in bays is common along the West Antarctic Peninsula yet the opportunity to study cryptophyte phytoplankton physiology beneath such ice conditions in coastal embayments is rare.
Understanding the ecological consequences - present and future-of climate change is a central question in conservation biology. The goal of this project is to identify the effects of climate change on the Black-Browed Albatross, a seabird breeding in the Southern Ocean. The Black-Browed Albatross exhibits remarkable flight adaptations, using winds as an energy source to glide for long distances. This is the basis of their foraging strategy, by which they obtain food for themselves and their offspring. Climate change, however, is expected to modify wind patterns over the Southern Ocean. This project will analyze the effect of winds on life history traits (foraging behaviors, body conditions and demographic traits), and the effects of these traits on populations. New demographic models will provide the link between foraging behavior and the physical environment, and evaluate the persistence of this population in the face of climate change.<br/><br/>Understanding and predicting population responses to climate change is important because the world?s climate will continue to change throughout the 21st century and beyond. To help guide conservation strategies and policy decisions in the face of climate change, reliable assessments of population extinction risks are urgently needed. The Black-Browed Albatross is considered endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature due to recent drastic reductions in its population size. This project will improve our understanding of the mechanisms by which climate affects the life history and populations of Black-Browed Albatross to improve prediction of extinction risks under future climate change.
Beginning with the earliest expeditions to the poles, scientists have noted that many polar taxa grow to unusually large body sizes, a phenomenon now known as 'polar gigantism.' Although scientists have been interested in polar giants for many years, many questions still remain about the biology of this significant form of polar diversity. This award from the Antarctic Organisms and Ecosystems program within the Polar Sciences Division at the National Science Foundation will investigate the respiratory and biomechanical mechanisms underlying polar gigantism in Antarctic pycnogonids (commonly known as sea spiders). The project will use a series of manipulative experiments to investigate the effects of temperature and oxygen availability on respiratory capacity and biomechanical strength, and will compare Antarctic sea spiders to related species from temperate and tropical regions. The research will provide insight into the ability of polar giants to withstand the warming polar ocean temperatures associated with climate change.<br/><br/>The prevailing hypothesis to explain the evolution of gigantism invokes shifts in respiratory relationships in extremely cold ocean waters: in the cold, oxygen is more plentiful while at the same time metabolic rates are very low. Together these effects alleviate constraints on oxygen supply that restrict organisms living in warmer waters. Respiratory capacity must evolve in the context of adaptive tradeoffs, so for organisms including pycnogonids there must be tradeoffs between respiratory capacity and resistance to biomechanical stresses. The investigators will test a novel hypothesis that respiratory challenges are not associated with particular body sizes, and will answer the following questions: What are the dynamics of oxygen transport and consumption in Antarctic pycnogonids; how do structural features related to oxygen diffusion trade off with requirements for body support and locomotion; how does body size influence vulnerability to environmental hypoxia and to temperature-oxygen interactions; and does the cold-driven high oxygen availability in the Antarctic raise the limit on body size by reducing trade-offs between diffusivity and structural integrity? The research will explore the effects of increased ocean temperatures upon organisms that have different body sizes. In addition, it will provide training for graduate and undergraduate students affiliated with universities in EPSCOR states.
Agglutinated foraminifera (forams for short) are early-evolving, single-celled organisms. These "living fossils" construct protective shells using sediment grains held together by adhesive substances that they secrete. During shell construction, agglutinated forams display amazing properties of selection - for example, some species build their shells of clear quartz grains, while other species use only grains of a specific size. Understanding how these single cells assemble complex structures may contribute to nanotechnology by enabling people to use forams as "cellular machines" to aid in the construction of nano-devices. This project will analyze the genomes of at least six key foram species, and then "mine" these genomes for technologically useful products and processes. The project will focus initially on the adhesive materials forams secrete, which may have wide application in biomedicine and biotechnology. Furthermore, the work will further develop a molecular toolkit which could open up new avenues of research on the physiology, ecology, and population dynamics of this important group of Antarctic organisms. The project will also further the NSF goals of making scientific discoveries available to the general public and of training new generations of scientists. Educational experiences related to the "thrill of scientific exploration and discovery" for students and the general public will be provided through freely-available short films and a traveling art/science exhibition. The project will also provide hands-on research opportunities for undergraduate students.<br/><br/>Explorers Cove, situated on the western shore of McMurdo Sound, harbors a unique population of foraminiferan taxa at depths accessible by scuba diving that otherwise are primarily found in the deep sea. The project will use next-generation DNA sequencing and microdissection methods to obtain and analyze nuclear and mitochondrial genomes from crown members of two species each from three distinct, early-evolving foraminiferal groups. It will also use next generation sequencing methods to characterize the in-situ prokaryotic assemblages (microbiomes) of one of these groups and compare them to reference sediment microbiomes. The phyogenomic studies of the targeted Antarctic genera will help fill significant gaps in our current understanding of early foram evolution. Furthermore, comparative genomic analyses of these six species are expected to yield a better understanding of the physiology of single-chambered agglutinated forams, especially the bioadhesive proteins and regulatory factors involved in shell composition and morphogenesis. Additionally, the molecular basis of cold adaptation in forams will be examined, particularly with respect to key proteins.
Recent discoveries of widespread liquid water and microbial ecosystems below the Antarctic ice sheets have generated considerable interest in studying Antarctic subglacial environments. Understanding subglacial hydrology, the persistence of life in extended isolation and the evolution and stability of subglacial habitats requires an integrated, interdisciplinary approach. The collaborative project, Minimally Invasive Direct Glacial Exploration (MIDGE) of the Biogeochemistry, Hydrology and Glaciology of Blood Falls, McMurdo Dry Valleys will integrate geophysical measurements, molecular microbial ecology and geochemical analyses to explore a unique Antarctic subglacial system known as Blood Falls. Blood Falls is a hypersaline, subglacial brine that supports an active microbial community. The subglacial brine is released from a crevasse at the surface of the Taylor Glacier providing an accessible portal into an Antarctic subglacial ecosystem. Recent geochemical and molecular analyses support a marine source for the salts and microorganisms in Blood Falls. The last time marine waters inundated this part of the McMurdo Dry Valleys was during the Late Tertiary, which suggests the brine is ancient. Still, no direct samples have been collected from the subglacial source to Blood Falls and little is known about the origin of this brine or the amount of time it has been sealed below Taylor Glacier. Radar profiles collected near Blood Falls delineate a possible fault in the subglacial substrate that may help explain the localized and episodic nature of brine release. However it remains unclear what triggers the episodic release of brine exclusively at the Blood Falls crevasse or the extent to which the brine is altered as it makes its way to the surface. <br/><br/>The MIDGE project aims to determine the mechanism of brine release at Blood Falls, evaluate changes in the geochemistry and the microbial community within the englacial conduit and assess if Blood Falls waters have a distinct impact on the thermal and stress state of Taylor Glacier, one of the most studied polar glaciers in Antarctica. The geophysical study of the glaciological structure and mechanism of brine release will use GPR, GPS, and a small passive seismic network. Together with international collaborators, the 'Ice Mole' team from FH Aachen University of Applied Sciences, Germany (funded by the German Aerospace Center, DLR), MIDGE will develop and deploy innovative, minimally invasive technologies for clean access and brine sample retrieval from deep within the Blood Falls drainage system. These technologies will allow for the collection of samples of the brine away from the surface (up to tens of meters) for geochemical analyses and microbial structure-function experiments. There is concern over the contamination of pristine subglacial environments from chemical and biological materials inherent in the drilling process; and MIDGE will provide data on the efficacy of thermoelectric probes for clean access and retrieval of representative subglacial samples. Antarctic subglacial environments provide an excellent opportunity for researching survivability and adaptability of microbial life and are potential terrestrial analogues for life habitats on icy planetary bodies. The MIDGE project offers a portable, versatile, clean alternative to hot water and mechanical drilling and will enable the exploration of subglacial hydrology and ecosystem function while making significant progress towards developing technologies for minimally invasive and clean sampling of icy systems.
The aim of study is to understand how climate-related changes in snow and ice affect predator populations in the Antarctic, using the Adélie penguin as a focal species due to its long history as a Southern Ocean 'sentinel' species and the number of long-term research programs monitoring its abundance, distribution, and breeding biology. Understanding the environmental factors that control predator population dynamics is critically important for projecting the state of populations under future climate change scenarios, and for designing better conservation strategies for the Antarctic ecosystem. For the first time, datasets from a network of observational sites for the Adélie penguin across the entire Antarctic will be combined and analyzed, with a focus on linkages among the ice environment, primary production, and the population responses of Adélie penguins. The project will also further the NSF goals of making scientific discoveries available to the general public and of training new generations of scientists. The results of this project can be used to illustrate intuitively to the general public the complex interactions between ice, ocean, pelagic food web and top predators. This project also offers an excellent platform to demonstrate the process of climate-change science - how scientists simulate climate change scenarios and interpret model results. This project supports the training of undergraduate and graduate students in the fields of polar oceanography, plankton and seabird ecology, coupled physical-biological modeling and mathematical ecology. The results will be broadly disseminated to the general oceanographic research community through scientific workshops, conferences and peer-reviewed journal articles, and to undergraduate and graduate education communities, K-12 schools and organizations, and the interested public through web-based servers using existing infrastructure at the investigators' institutions. The key question to be addressed in this project is how climate impacts the timing of periodic biological events (phenology) and how interannual variation in this periodic forcing influences the abundance of penguins in the Antarctic. The focus will be on the timing of ice algae and phytoplankton blooms because the high seasonality of sea ice and associated pulsed primary productivity are major drivers of the Antarctic food web. This study will also examine the responses of Adélie penguins to changes in sea ice dynamics and ice algae-phytoplankton phenology. Adélie penguins, like many other Antarctic seabirds, are long-lived, upper trophic-level predators that integrate the effects of sea ice on the food web at regional scales, and thus serve as a reliable biological indicator of environmental changes. The proposed approach is designed to accommodate the limits of measuring and modeling the intermediate trophic levels between phytoplankton and penguins (e.g., zooplankton and fish) at the pan-Antarctic scale, which are important but latent variables in the Southern Ocean food web. Through the use of remotely sensed and in situ data, along with state of the art statistical approaches (e.g. wavelet analysis) and numerical modeling, this highly interdisciplinary study will advance our understanding of polar ecosystems and improve the projection of future climate change scenarios.
Aydin/1644245<br/><br/>This award supports a project to measure ethane in ice core air extracted from the recently drilled intermediate depth South Pole ice core (SPICECORE). Ethane is an abundant hydrocarbon in the atmosphere. The ice core samples that will be used in this analysis will span about 150 years before present to about 55,000 years before present and therefore, ethane emissions linked to human activities are not a subject of this study. The study will focus on quantifying the variability in the natural sources of ethane and the processes that govern its removal from the atmosphere. A long-term ice core ethane record will provide new knowledge on the chemistry of Earth?s atmosphere during time periods when human influence was either much smaller than present day or non-existent. The broader impacts of this work include education and training of students and a contribution to a better understanding of the chemistry of the atmosphere in the past and how it has been impacted by past changes in climate.<br/><br/>Natural sources that emit ethane are both geologic (e.g. seeps, vents, mud volcanoes etc.) and pyrogenic (wild fires) which is commonly called biomass burning. Ethane is removed from the atmosphere via oxidation reactions. The ice core ethane measurements have great potential as a proxy for gaseous emissions from biomass burning. This is especially true for time periods preceding the industrial revolution when atmospheric variability of trace gases was largely controlled by natural processes. Another objective of this study is to improve understanding of the causes of atmospheric methane variability apparent which are in the existing ice core records. Methane is a simpler hydrocarbon than ethane and more abundant in the atmosphere. Even though the project does not include any methane measurements; the commonalities between the sources and removal of atmospheric ethane and methane mean that ethane measurements can be used to gain insight into the causes of changes in atmospheric methane levels. The broader impacts of the project include partial support for one Ph.D. student and support for undergraduate researchers at UC Irvine. The PIs group currently has 4 undergraduate researchers. The PI and the graduate students in the UCI ice core laboratory regularly participate in on- and off-campus activities such as laboratory tours and lectures directed towards educating high-school students and science teachers, and the local community at large about the scientific value of polar ice cores as an environmental record of our planet's past. The results of this research will be disseminated via peer-review publications and will contribute to policy-relevant activities such as the IPCC Climate Assessment. Data resulting from this project will be archived in a national data repository. This award does not have field work in Antarctica.
The solidified remnants of large magma bodies within the continental crust hold the key to understanding the chemical and physical evolution of volcanic provinces through time. These deposits also commonly contain some of the world's most important ore deposits. Exposed deposits in South Africa, Greenland, USA, Canada, and Antarctica have led researchers to propose that the bigger the magma body, the faster it will crystallize. While this might seem counter-intuitive (typically it is thought that more magma = hotter = harder to cool), the comparison of these exposures show that bigger magma chambers maintain a molten top that is always in contact with the colder crust; whereas smaller magma chambers insulate themselves by crystallizing at the margins. The process is similar to the difference between a large cup of coffee with no lid, and a smaller cup of coffee held in a thermos. The large unprotected cup of coffee will cool down much faster than that held in the thermos. This research project of VanTongeren and Schoene will use previously collected rocks from the large (~8-9 km thick) Dufek Intrusion in Antarctica to precisely quantify how fast the magma chamber crystallized, and compare that rate to the much smaller magma chamber exposed in the Skaergaard Intrusion of E. Greenland. The work is an important step towards improving our understanding of time-scales associated with the thermal and chemical evolution of nearly all magma chambers on Earth, which will ultimately lead to better predictions of volcanic hazards globally. The work will also yield important insights into the timescales and conditions necessary for developing vast magmatic ore deposits, which is essential to the platinum and steel industries in the USA and abroad.<br/><br/>Based on observations of solidification fronts in six of the world's most completely exposed layered mafic intrusions, it was recently proposed that bigger magma chambers must crystallize faster than small magma chambers. While this is initially counter-intuitive, the hypothesis falls out of simple heat balance equations and the observation that the thickness of cumulates at the roofs of such intrusions is negatively proportional to the size of the intrusion. In this study, VanTongeren and Schoene will directly test the hypothesis that bigger magma chambers crystallize faster by applying high precision U-Pb zircon geochronology on 5-10 samples throughout the large Dufek Intrusion of Antarctica. Due to uncertainties in even the highest-precision ID-TIMS analyses, the Dufek Intrusion of Antarctica is the only large layered mafic intrusion on Earth where this research can be accomplished. VanTongeren and Schoene will place the geochronological measurements of the Dufek Intrusion into a comprehensive petrologic framework by linking zircon crystallization to other liquidus phases using mineral geochemistry, zircon saturation models, and petrologic models for intrusion crystallization. The research has the potential to radically change the way that we understand the formation and differentiation of large magma bodies within the shallow crust. Layered intrusions are typically thought to cool and crystallize over very long timescales allowing for significant differentiation of the magmas and reorganization of the cumulate rocks. If the 'bigger magma chambers crystallize faster hypothesis' holds this could reduce the calculated solidification time scales of the early earth and lunar magma oceans and have important implications for magma chamber dynamics of active intraplate volcanism and long-lived continental arcs. Furthermore, while the Dufek Intrusion is one of only two large layered intrusions exposed on Earth, very little is known about its petrologic evolution. The detailed geochemical and petrologic work of VanTongeren and Schoene based on analyses of previously collected samples will provide important observations with which to compare the Dufek and other large magma chambers.
Intellectual Merit: <br/><br/>The PIs propose to establish an ice shelf network of 18 broadband seismographs deployed for two years to obtain high-resolution, mantle-scale images of Earth structure underlying the Ross Sea Embayment. Prior marine geophysical work provides good crustal velocity models for the region seaward of the ice shelf but mantle structure is constrained by only low-resolution images due to the lack of prior seismic deployments. The proposed stations would be established between Ross Island and Marie Byrd Land. These stations would fill a major geological gap within this extensional continental province and would link data sets collected in the Transantarctic Mountain transition/Plateau region (TAMSEIS) and in West Antarctica (POLENET) to improve resolution of mantle features beneath Antarctica. The proposed deployment would allow the PIs to collect seismic data without the expense, logistical complexity, and iceberg hazards associated with ocean bottom seismograph deployments. Tomographic models developed from the proposed data will be used to choose between competing models for the dynamics of the Ross Sea. In particular, the PIs will investigate whether a broad region of hot mantle, including the Eastern Ross Sea, indicates distributed recent tectonic activity, which would call into question models proposing that Eastern Ross extension ceased during the Mesozoic. These data will also allow the PIs to investigate the deeper earth structure to evaluate the possible role of mantle plumes and/or small-scale convection in driving regional volcanism and tectonism across the region.<br/><br/>Broader impacts: <br/><br/>Data from this deployment will be of broad interdisciplinary use. This project will support three graduate and two undergraduate students. At least one student will be an underrepresented minority student. The PIs will interact with the media and include K-12 educators in their fieldwork.
Bubbles of ancient air trapped in ice cores permit the direct reconstruction of atmospheric composition and allow us to link greenhouse gases and global climate over the last 800,000 years. Previous field expeditions to the Allan Hills blue ice area, Antarctica, have recovered ice cores that date to one million years, the oldest ice cores yet recovered from Antarctica. These records have revealed that interglacial CO2 concentrations decreased by 800,000 years ago and that, in the warmer world 1 million years ago, CO2 and Antarctic temperature were linked as during the last 800,000 years. This project will return to the Allan Hills blue ice area to recover additional ice cores that date to 1 million years or older. The climate records developed from the drilled ice cores will provide new insights into the chemical composition of the atmosphere and Antarctic climate during times of comparable or even greater warmth than the present day. Our results will help answer questions about issues associated with anthropogenic change. These include the relationship between temperature change and the mass balance of Antarctic ice; precipitation and aridity variations associated with radiatively forced climate change; and the climate significance of sea ice extent. The project will entrain two graduate students and a postdoctoral scholar, and will conduct outreach including workshops to engage teachers in carbon science and ice cores.<br/><br/>Between about 2.8-0.9 million years ago, Earth's climate was characterized by 40,000-year cycles, driven or paced by changes in the tilt of Earth's spin axis. Much is known about the "40,000-year" world from studies of deep-sea sediments, but our understanding of climate change during this period is incomplete because we lack records of Antarctic climate and direct records of atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations. We propose to address these issues by building on our recent studies of ancient ice from the Main Ice Field, Allan Hills, Antarctica. During previous field seasons we recovered ice extending, discontinuously, from 0.1-1.0 million years old. Ice was dated by measuring the 40Ar/38Ar (Argon) ratio of the trapped gases. Our discovery of million year-old ice demonstrates that there is gas-record-quality ice from the 40,000-year world in the Allan Hills Main Ice Field. We have identified two different sites, each overlying bedrock at ~ 200 m depth, that are attractive targets for coring ice dating to 1 million years and older. This project aims to core the ice at these two sites, re-occupy a previous site with million year-old ice and drill it down to the bedrock, and generate 10-20 short (~10-meter) cores in areas where our previous work and terrestrial meteorite ages suggest ancient surface ice. We plan to date the ice using the 40Ar/38Ar ages of trapped Argon. We also plan to characterize the continuity of our cores by measuring the deuterium and oxygen isotope ratios in the ice, methane, ratios of Oxygen and Argon to Nitrogen in trapped gas, the Nitrogen-15 isotope (d15N) of Nitrogen, and the Oxygen-18 isotope (d18O) of Oxygen. As the ice may be stratigraphically disturbed, these measurements will provide diagnostic properties for assessing the continuity of the ice-core records. Successful retrieval of ice older than one million years will provide the opportunity for follow-up work to measure the CO2 concentration and other properties within the ice to inform on the temperature history of the Allan Hills region, dust sources and source-area aridity, moisture sources, densification conditions, global average ocean temperature, and greenhouse gas concentrations. We will analyze the data in the context of leading hypotheses of the 40,000-year world and the Mid-Pleistocene Transition to the 100,000-year world. We expect to advance understanding of climate dynamics during these periods.
This award supports an integrated field observation, remote sensing and numerical modeling study of the McMurdo Shear Zone (SZ). The SZ is a 5-10 km wide strip of heavily crevassed ice that separates the McMurdo and Ross ice shelves, and is an important region of lateral support for the Ross Ice Shelf. Previous radar and remote sensing studies reveal an enigmatic picture of the SZ in which crevasses detected at depth have no apparent surface expression, and have orientations which are possibly inconsistent with the observed flow field. In the proposed work, we seek to test the hypothesis that the SZ is a zone of chaotic Lagrangian mixing with (intersecting) buried crevasses which leads to rheological instability, potentially allowing large scale velocity discontinuities. The work will involve detailed field-based observations of crevasse distributions and structure using ground-penetrating radar, and GPS and remote sensing observations of the flow and stress field in the SZ. Because of the hazardous nature of the SZ, the radar surveys will be conducted largely with the aid of a lightweight robotic vehicle. Observations will be used to develop a finite element model of ice shelf shear margin behavior. The intellectual merit of this project is an increased understanding of ice shelf shear margin dynamics. Shear margins play a key role in ice shelf stability, and ice shelves in turn modulate the flux of ice from the ice sheet across the grounding line to the ocean. Insights from this project will improve large-scale models being developed to predict ice sheet evolution and future rates of sea level rise, which are topics of enormous societal concern. The broader impacts of the project include an improved basis for US Antarctic Program logistics planning as well as numerous opportunities to engage K-12 students in scientific discovery. Intensified crevassing in the shear zone between the Ross and McMurdo ice shelves would preclude surface crossing by heavy traverse vehicles which would lead to increased costs of delivering fuel to South Pole and a concomitant loss of flight time provided by heavy-lift aircraft for science missions on the continent. Our multidisciplinary research combining glaciology, numerical modeling, and robotics engineering is an engaging way to show how robotics can assist scientists in collecting hazardous field measurements. Our outreach activities will leverage Dartmouth's current NSF GK-12 program, build on faculty-educator relationships established during University of Maine's recent GK-12 program, and incorporate project results into University of Maine's IDEAS initiative, which integrates computational modeling with the existing science curriculum at the middle school level. This award has field work in Antarctica.
Climate change projections for this century suggest that the Southern Ocean will be the first region to be affected by seawater chemistry changes associated with enhanced carbon dioxide (CO2). Additionally, regions of the Southern Ocean are warming faster than any other locations on the planet. Ocean acidification and warming may act synergistically to impair the performance of different organisms by simultaneously increasing metabolic needs and reducing oxygen transport. However, no studies have measured krill acid-base regulation, metabolism, growth, or reproduction in the context of ocean acidification or synergistic 'greenhouse' conditions of elevated CO2 and temperature. In the present project, the investigators will conduct both short and prolonged exposure experiments at Palmer Station, Antarctica to determine the responses of Euphausia superba to elevated CO2 and temperature. The investigators will test hypotheses related to acid-base compensation and acclimation of various life stages of krill to elevated CO2 and temperature. Furthermore, they will determine these impacts on feeding, respiration, metabolism, growth, and reproduction.<br/><br/>The Antarctic krill, Euphausia superba, is a key component of Antarctic food webs as they are a primary food source for many of the top predators in the Southern Ocean including baleen whales, seals, penguins, and other sea birds. This project will determine the responses of Antarctic krill exposed to elevated CO2 and temperature and whether or not krill have the capacity to fully compensate under future ocean conditions. The proposed field effort will be complemented by an extensive broader impact effort focused on bringing marine science to both rural and urban high school students in the Midwest (Kansas). The core educational objectives of this proposal are to 1) instruct students about potential careers in marine science, 2) engage students and promote their interest in the scientific process, critical thinking, and applications of science, mathematics, and technology, and 3) and increase student and teacher awareness and understanding of the oceans and global climate change, with special focus on the Western Antarctic Peninsula region. Finally, this project will engage undergraduate and graduate students in the production, analysis, presentation and publication of datasets.
This award is funded under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (Public Law 111-5). The LISSARD project (Lake and Ice Stream Subglacial Access Research Drilling) is one of three research components of the WISSARD integrative initiative (Whillans Ice Stream Subglacial Access Research Drilling) that is being funded by the Antarctic Integrated System Science Program of NSF's Office of Polar Programs, Antarctic Division. The overarching scientific objective of WISSARD is to assess the role of water beneath a West Antarctic ice stream in interlinked glaciological, geological, microbiological, geochemical, and oceanographic systems. The LISSARD component of WISSARD focuses on the role of active subglacial lakes in determining how fast the West Antarctic ice sheet loses mass to the global ocean and influences global sea level changes. The importance of Antarctic subglacial lakes has only been recently recognized, and the lakes have been identified as high priority targets for scientific investigations because of their unknown contributions to ice sheet stability under future global warming scenarios. LISSARD has several primary science goals: A) To provide an observational basis for improving treatments of subglacial hydrological and mechanical processes in models of ice sheet mass balance and stability; B) To reconstruct the past history of ice stream stability by analyzing archives of past basal water and ice flow variability contained in subglacial sediments, porewater, lake water, and basal accreted ice; C) To provide background understanding of subglacial lake environments to benefit RAGES and GBASE (the other two components of the WISSARD project); and D) To synthesize data and concepts developed as part of this project to determine whether subglacial lakes play an important role in (de)stabilizing Antarctic ice sheets. We propose an unprecedented synthesis of approaches to studying ice sheet processes, including: (1) satellite remote sensing, (2) surface geophysics, (3) borehole observations and measurements and, (4) basal and subglacial sampling. <br/><br/>INTELLECTUAL MERIT: The latest report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change recognized that the greatest uncertainties in assessing future global sea-level change stem from a poor understanding of ice sheet dynamics and ice sheet vulnerability to oceanic and atmospheric warming. Disintegration of the WAIS (West Antarctic Ice Sheet) alone would contribute 3-5 m to global sea-level rise, making WAIS a focus of scientific concern due to its potential susceptibility to internal or ocean-driven instability. The overall WISSARD project will test the overarching hypothesis that active water drainage connects various subglacial environments and exerts major control on ice sheet flow, geochemistry, metabolic and phylogenetic diversity, and biogeochemical transformations. <br/><br/>BROADER IMPACTS: Societal Relevance: Global warming, melting of ice sheets and consequential sea-level rise are of high societal relevance. Science Resource Development: After a 9-year hiatus WISSARD will provide the US-science community with a renewed capability to access and study sub-ice sheet environments. Developing this technological infrastructure will benefit the broader science community and assets will be accessible for future use through the NSF-OPP drilling contractor. Furthermore, these projects will pioneer an approach implementing recommendations from the National Research Council committee on Principles of Environmental Stewardship for the Exploration and Study of Subglacial Environments (2007). Education and Outreach (E/O): These activities are grouped into four categories: i) increasing student participation in polar research by fully integrating them in our research programs; ii) introducing new investigators to the polar sciences by incorporating promising young investigators in our programs, iii) promotion of K-12 teaching and learning programs by incorporating various teachers and NSTA programs, and iv) reaching a larger public audience through such venues as popular science magazines, museum based activities and videography and documentary films. In summary, WISSARD will promote scientific exploration of Antarctica by conveying to the public the excitement of accessing and studying what may be some of the last unexplored aquatic environments on Earth, and which represent a potential analogue for extraterrestrial life habitats on Europa and Mars.
Conway/1141866<br/><br/>This award supports a project to conduct a suite of experiments to study spatial and temporal variations of basal conditions beneath Beardmore Glacier, an East Antarctic outlet glacier that discharges into the Ross Sea Embayment. The intellectual merit of the project is that it should help verify whether or not global warming will play a much larger role in the future mass balance of ice sheets than previously considered. Recent observations of rapid changes in discharge of fast-flowing outlet glaciers and ice streams suggest that dynamical responses to warming could affect that ice sheets of Greenland and Antarctica. Assessment of possible consequences of these responses is hampered by the lack of information about the basal boundary conditions. The leading hypothesis is that variations in basal conditions exert strong control on the discharge of outlet glaciers. Airborne and surface-based radar measurements of Beardmore Glacier will be made to map the ice thickness and geometry of the sub-glacial trough and active and passive seismic experiments, together with ground-based radar and GPS measurements will be made to map spatial and temporal variations of conditions at the ice-bed interface. The observational data will be used to constrain dynamic models of glacier flow. The models will be used to address the primary controls on the dynamics of Antarctic outlet glaciers, the conditions at the bed, their spatial and temporal variation, and how such variability might affect the sliding and flow of these glaciers. The work will also explore whether or not these outlet glaciers could draw down the interior of East Antarctica, and if so, how fast. The study will take three years including two field seasons to complete and results from the work will be disseminated through public and professional meetings and journal publications. All data and metadata will be made available through the NSIDC web portal. The broader impacts of the work are that it will help elucidate the fundamental physics of outlet glacier dynamics which is needed to improve predictions of the response of ice sheets to changing environmental conditions. The project will also provide support for early career investigators and will provide training and support for one graduate and two undergraduate students. All collaborators are currently involved in scientific outreach and graduate student education and they are committed to fostering diversity.
Meltwater lakes that sit on top of Antarctica's floating ice shelves have likely contributed to the dramatic changes seen in Antarctica's glacial ice cover over the past two decades. In 2002, the 1,600-square-kilometer Larsen B Ice Shelf located on the Eastern side of the Antarctic Peninsula, for example, broke into thousands of small icebergs, which subsequently floated away as a result of the formation of more than 2,000 meltwater lakes on its surface over the prior decade. Our research project addresses the reasons why surface lakes form on Antarctic ice shelves and how these surface lakes subsequently contribute to the forces that may contribute to ice-shelf breakup like that of the Larsen B. Our project focuses primarily on making precise global positioning system (GPS) measurements of ice-shelf bending in response to the filling and draining of a surface lake on the McMurdo Ice Shelf. The observed vertical displacements (on the order of tens of centimeters) in response to lake filling will be used to calibrate and test computer simulation models that predict the response of ice shelves to surface lakes more generally and in a variety of future climate conditions. Our project will make hourly measurements of both vertical ice-shelf movements (using GPS surveying instruments) and of temperature and sunlight conditions (that drive melting) around a surface lake located close to the McMurdo Station airfield. Following this initial data-gathering effort, computer simulations and other more theoretical analysis will be undertaken to determine the suitability of the chosen McMurdo Ice Shelf surface lake as a field-laboratory for continued study. Ultimately, the research will contribute to understanding of the glaciological processes that link climate change to rising sea level. A successful outcome of the research will allow glaciologists to better assess the processes that promote or erode the influence Antarctic ice shelves have in controlling the transfer of ice from the interior of Antarctica into the ocean. The project will undertake two outreach activities: (1) web-posting of a field-activity journal and (2) establishing an open-access glaciological teaching and outreach web-sharing site for the International Glaciological Society.<br/><br/>The proposed project seeks to experimentally verify a theory of ice-shelf instability proposed to explain the explosive break-up of Larsen B Ice Shelf in 2002. This theory holds that the filling and draining of supraglacial lakes on floating ice shelves induces sufficient flexure stress within the ice to (a) induce upward/downward propagating fractures originating at the base/surface of the ice shelf that (b) dissect the ice shelf into fragments that tend to have widths less than about half the ice thickness. The significance of narrow widths is that they promote capsize of the ice-shelf fragments during the break-up process. This capsize releases large amounts of gravitational potential energy (comparable to thousands of kilotons of TNT for the Larsen B Ice Shelf) thereby promoting explosiveness of the Larsen B event. The observational motivation for experimentally verifying the surface-lake mechanism for ice-shelf breakup is based on the fact that >2,000 surface lakes developed on the Larsen B Ice Shelf in the decade prior to its break up, and that these lakes were observed (via satellite imagery) to drain in a coordinated fashion during the day prior to the initiation of the break up.<br/><br/>The field-observation component of the project will focus on a supraglacial lake on the McMurdo Ice Shelf where there is persistent summer season surface melting. The lake will be studied during a single provisional field season to determine whether grooming of surrounding surface streams and shorelines with heavy construction equipment will allow surface water to be manually encouraged to fill the lake. If successfully encouraged to develop, the McMurdo Ice Shelf surface lake will allow measurements of key ice-shelf flexure and stress variables needed to develop the theory of ice-shelf surface lakes without having to access the much more logistically demanding surface lakes of ice-shelves located elsewhere in Antarctica. Data to be gathered during the 6-week provisional field season include: energy- and water-balance parameters determining how the surface lake grows and fills, and various global positioning system measurements of the vertical bending of the ice sheet in response to the changing meltwater load contained within the surface lake. These data will be used to (1) constrain a computer model of viscoelastic flexure and possible fracture of the ice shelf in response to the increasing load of meltwater in the lake, and (2) determine whether continued study of the incipient surface-meltwater lake features on the McMurdo Ice Shelf provides a promising avenue for constraining the more-general behavior of surface meltwater lakes on other ice shelves located in warmer parts of Antarctica. Computer models constrained by the observational data obtained from the field project will inform energy- and water-balance models of ice shelves in general, and allow more accurate forecasts of changing ice-shelf conditions surrounding the inland ice of Antarctica. The project will create the first-ever ground-based observations useful for spawning the development of models capable of predicting viscoelastic and fracture behavior of ice shelves in response to supraglacial lake evolution, including slow changes due to energy balance effects, as well as fast changes due to filling and draining.
This award supports a project to study the physical processes that synchronize glacial-scale variability between the Northern Hemisphere ice sheets and the Antarctic ice-sheet. Using a coupled numerical ice-sheet earth-system model, the research team will explore the cryospheric responses to past changes in greenhouse gas concentrations and variations in earth's orbit and tilt. First capturing the sensitivity of each individual ice-sheet to these forcings and then determining their joint variability induced by changes in sea level, ocean temperatures and atmospheric circulation, the researchers will quantify the relative roles of local versus remote effects on long-term ice volume variability. The numerical experiments will provide deeper physical insights into the underlying dynamics of past Antarctic ice-volume changes and their contribution to global sea level. Output from the transient earth system model simulations will be directly compared with ice-core data from previous and ongoing drilling efforts, such as West Antarctic Ice Sheet (WAIS) Divide. Specific questions that will be addressed include: 1) Did the high-latitude Southern Hemispheric atmospheric and oceanic climate, relevant to Antarctic ice sheet forcing, respond to local insolation variations, CO2, Northern Hemispheric changes, or a combination thereof?; 2) How did WAIS and East Antarctic Ice Sheet (EAIS) vary through the Last Glacial Termination and into the Holocene (21 ka- present)?; 3) Did the WAIS (or EAIS) contribute to rapid sea-level fluctuations during this period, such as Meltwater Pulse 1A? 4) Did WAIS collapse fully at Stage 5e (~ 125 ka), and what was its timing relative to the maximum Greenland retreat?; and 5) How did the synchronized behavior of Northern Hemisphere and Southern Hemisphere ice-sheet variations affect the strength of North Atlantic Deep Water and Antarctic Bottom Water formation and the respective overturning cells? The transient earth-system model simulations conducted as part of this project will be closely compared with paleo-climate reconstructions from ice cores, sediment cores and terrestrial data. This will generate an integrated understanding of the hemispheric contributions of deglacial climate change, the origin of meltwater pulses, and potential thresholds in the coupled ice-sheet climate system in response to different types of forcings. A well-informed long-term societal response to sea level rise requires a detailed understanding of ice-sheet sensitivities to external forcing. The proposed research will strongly contribute to this task through numerical modeling and paleo-data analysis. The research team will make the resulting model simulations available on the web-based data server at the Asia Pacific Data Research Center (APDRC) to enable further analysis by the scientific community. As part of this project a female graduate student and a postdoctoral researcher will receive training in earth-system and ice-sheet modeling and paleo-climate dynamics. This award has no field work in Antarctica.
Ice-core records are critical to understanding past climate variations. An Antarctic ice core currently being drilled at the South Pole will allow detailed investigation of atmospheric gases and fill an important gap in understanding the pattern of climate variability across Antarctica. Critical to the interpretation of any ice core are: 1) accurate chronologies for both the ice and the trapped gas and 2) demonstration that records from the ice core reliably reflect climate. The proposed research will improve the ice and gas chronologies by making measurements of snow compaction in the upstream catchment in order to constrain age models of the ice. These measurements will be a key data set needed for better understanding and predicting time-varying conditions in the upper part of the ice sheet. The research team will measure the modern spatial gradients in accumulation rate, surface temperature, and water stable isotopes from shallow ice cores in the upstream catchment in order to determine the climate history from the ice-core record. The new ice-flow measurements will make it possible to define the path of ice from upstream to the South Pole ice-core drill site to assess spatial gradients in snowfall and to infer histories of snowfall from internal layers within the ice sheet. The project will be led by an early-career scientist, provide broad training to graduate students, and engage in public outreach on polar science.<br/><br/>Ice-core records of stable isotopes, aerosol-born particles, and atmospheric gases are critical to understanding past climate variations. The proposed research will improve the ice and gas chronologies in the South Pole ice core by making in situ measurements of firn compaction in the upstream catchment to constrain models of the gas-age ice-age difference. The firn measurements will be a key data set needed to form a constitutive relationship for firn, and will drive better understanding and prediction of transient firn evolution. The research team will measure the modern gradients in accumulation rate, surface temperature, and water stable isotopes in the upstream catchment to separate spatial (advection) variations from temporal (climate) variations in the ice-core records. The ice-flow measurements will define the flowline upstream of the drill site, assess spatial gradients in accumulation, and infer histories of accumulation from radar-observed internal layers. Results will directly enhance interpretation of South Pole ice-core records, and also advance understanding of firn densification and drive next-generation firn models.
Dunbar/1142115<br/><br/>This award supports a project to investigate the extremely rich volcanic record in the WAIS Divide ice core as part of this ongoing tephrochronology research in Antarctica. Ice cores in Polar Regions offer unparalleled records of earth's climate over the past 500,000 years. Accurate chronology of individual ice cores and chronological correlations between different ice cores is critically important to the interpretation of the climate record. The field of Antarctic tephrochronology has been progressing steadily, and is on the cusp of having a fully integrated tephra framework for large parts of the continent. Major advances in this field have been made due to the acquisition of a number of ice cores with strong volcanic records, improvement of analytical techniques and better characterization of source eruptions due in part to through studies of englacial tephra from several major blue ice areas. The intellectual merit of this work is that the tephrochonological studies will provide independently dated time-stratigraphic markers in the ice core, particularly for the deepest ice, linking tephra layers between the WAIS Divide core and the Siple Dome core which will allow detailed comparisons to be made of coastal and inland climate. It will also contribute to a better understanding of eruption magnitude, dispersal patterns and geochemical evolution of West Antarctic volcanoes. The work will also contribute to a new tephra dataset to the literature for use in future ice core studies. The broader impacts of this project fall into the areas of education, outreach and international cooperation. This project will employ one New Mexico Tech graduate student, but will also be featured in outreach programs for NMT undergraduates, as well as teacher and student groups and outreach for the general public in New Mexico. NMT is an Hispanic serving institution (25% Hispanic students) and also found by NSF to rank 15th nationwide in "baccalaureate-origin" institutions for doctoral recipients in science and engineering, thereby having a disproportionately large effect on producing Hispanic scientists and engineers. However, probably the most significant broader impact of this project will be the continued efforts of the PI in fostering and promoting of international cooperation in the tephra-in-ice community. Dunbar has been collaborating with European tephra researchers for a number of years, sharing data and working collaboratively on tephra correlations, and these activities have lead to, and will continue to promote, forward progress in integrating the Antarctic tephrochronology record. This proposal does not require field work in the Antarctic.
Intellectual Merit:<br/>This project will produce a new compilation of Ross Sea seismic stratigraphy, including new interpretations, that can be used to provide boundary conditions on the tectonic and glacial evolution of West Antarctica and the Ross Sea. The principal goals include compilation of, and interpretation of, all available existing seismic reflection data for the Western Ross Sea, coupled with geophysical modeling to produce paleo-bathymetric reconstructions for the entire 800 km-wide Ross Sea. Specific tasks will include: extending existing work on mapping travel time to reflectors, identifying relations in the seismic data that indicate subsidence through sea level, constructing velocity models for converting travel time to thickness, and using the velocity models to estimate density and porosity of sediments for backstripping analysis. Modeling/backstripping efforts will be used to constrain past bathymetry. Digital interpretations and stratigraphic grids will be provided as supplements to publications. In that way the results of this study can be used in thermal subsidence modeling and restoration of eroded rock to other parts of Ross Embayment and Marie Byrd Land by others. Digital products may be provided in advance of publication to modelers in a way that will not hurt publication chances.<br/><br/>Broader impacts: <br/>The results of this work will be important for paleo-geographic reconstructions of Antarctica and will therefore be of use to a broad range of researchers, particularly those working in the Ross Sea region. The digital products can be used to test models for the past fluctuations of West Antarctic ice sheets, and in planning for future sediment drilling projects. Two undergraduates to be chosen from applicants will be involved in summer internships held at the University of Rhode Island. Outreach will also include a new website and one or more Wikipedia entries related to Ross Sea sub-sea floor characteristics. The project includes an international collaboration with Dr. Chiara Sauli and others at Instituto Nazionale di Oceanografia e di Geofisica Sperimentale (OGS) in Italy.
The Palmer Antarctica LTER (Long Term Ecological Research) site has been in operation since 1990. The goal of all the LTER sites is to conduct policy-relevant research on ecological questions that require tens of years of data, and cover large geographical areas. For the Palmer Antarctica LTER, the questions are centered around how the marine ecosystem west of the Antarctica peninsula is responding to a climate that is changing as rapidly as any place on the Earth. For example, satellite observations over the past 35 years indicate the average duration of sea ice cover is now ~90 days (3 months!) shorter than it was. The extended period of open water has implications for many aspects of ecosystem research, with the concurrent decrease of AdÃ¨lie penguins within this region regularly cited as an exemplar of climate change impacts in Antarctica. Cutting edge technologies such as autonomous underwater (and possibly airborne) vehicles, seafloor moorings, and numerical modeling, coupled with annual oceanographic cruises, and weekly environmental sampling, enables the Palmer Antarctica LTER to expand and bridge the time and space scales needed to assess climatic impacts. This award includes for the first time study of the roles of whales as major predators in the seasonal sea ice zone ecosystem. The team will also focus on submarine canyons, special regions of enhanced biological activity, along the Western Antarctic Peninsula (WAP).<br/><br/>The current award's overarching research question is: How do seasonality, interannual variability, and long term trends in sea ice extent and duration influence the structure and dynamics of marine ecosystems and biogeochemical cycling? Specific foci within the broad question include: 1. Long-term change and ecosystem transitions. What is the sensitivity or resilience of the ecosystem to external perturbations as a function of the ecosystem state? 2. Lateral connectivity and vertical stratification. What are the effects of lateral transports of freshwater, heat and nutrients on local ocean stratification and productivity and how do they drive changes in the ecosystem? 3. Top-down controls and shifting baselines. How is the ecosystem responding to the cessation of whaling and subsequent long-term recovery of whale stocks? 4. Foodweb structure and biogeochemical processes. How do temporal and spatial variations in foodweb structure influence carbon and nutrient cycling, export, and storage? The broader impacts of the award leverage local educational partnerships including the Sandwich, MA STEM Academy, the New England Aquarium, and the NSF funded Polar Learning and Responding (PoLAR) Climate Change Education Partnership at Columbia's Earth Institute to build new synergies between Arctic and Antarctic, marine and terrestrial scientists and students, governments and NGOs. The Palmer Antarctic LTER will also conduct appropriate cross LTER site comparisons, and serve as a leader in information management to enable knowledge-building within and beyond the Antarctic, oceanographic, and LTER communities.
Ice cores record detailed histories of past climate variations. The South Pole ice core will allow investigation of atmospheric trace gases and fill an important gap in understanding the pattern of climate variability across Antarctica. An accurate timescale that assigns an age to the ice at each depth in the core is essential to interpretation of the ice-core records. This work will use electrical methods to identify volcanic eruptions throughout the past ~40,000 years in the core by detecting the enhanced electrical conductance in those layers due to volcanic impurities in the ice. These eruptions will be pattern-matched to other cores across Antarctica, synchronizing the timing of climate variations among cores and allowing the precise timescales developed for other Antarctic ice cores to be transferred to the South Pole ice core. The well-dated records of volcanic forcing will be combined with records of atmospheric gases, stable water-isotopes, and aerosols to better understand the large natural climate variations of the past 40,000 years. <br/> <br/>The electrical conductance method and dielectric profiling measurements will be made along the length of each section of the South Pole ice core at the National Ice Core Lab. These measurements will help to establish a timescale for the core. Electrical measurements will provide a continuous record of volcanic events for the entire core including through the brittle ice (550-1250m representing ~10,000-20,000 year-old ice) where the core quality and thin annual layers may prevent continuous melt analysis and cause discrete measurements to miss volcanic events. The electrical measurements also produce a 2-D image of the electrical layering on a longitudinal cut surface of each core. These data will be used to identify any irregular or absent layering that would indicate a stratigraphic disturbance in the core. A robust chronology is essential to interpretation of the paleoclimate records from the South Pole ice core. The investigators will engage teachers through talks and webinars with the National Science Teachers Association and will share information with the public at events such as Polar Science Weekend at the Pacific Science Center. Results will be disseminated through publications and conference presentations and the data will be archived and publicly available.
Non-Technical Summary:<br/> About 80 million years ago, the tip of the Antarctic Peninsula in the vicinity of what is now James Ross Island experienced an episode of rapid subsidence, creating a broad depositional basin that collected sediments eroding from the high mountains to the West. This depression accumulated a thick sequence of fossil-rich, organic-rich sediments of the sort that are known to preserve hydrocarbons, and for which Argentina, Chile, and the United Kingdom have overlapping territorial claims. The rocks preserve one of the highest resolution records of the biological and climatic events that led to the eventual death of the dinosaurs at the Cretaceous-Tertiary boundary (about 66 million years ago). A previous collaboration between scientists from the Instituto AntÃ¡rtico Argentino (IAA) and NSF-supported teams from Caltech and the University of Washington were able to show that this mass extinction event started nearly 50,000 years before the sudden impact of an asteroid. The asteroid obviously hit the biosphere hard, but something else knocked it off balance well before the asteroid hit. <br/> A critical component of the previous work was the use of reversals in the polarity of the Earth?s magnetic field as a dating tool ? magnetostratigraphy. This allowed the teams to correlate the pattern of magnetic reversals from Antarctica with elsewhere on the planet. This includes data from a major volcanic eruption (a flood basalt province) that covered much of India 65 million years ago. The magnetic patterns indicate that the Antarctic extinction started with the first pulse of this massive eruption, which was also coincident with a rapid spike in polar temperature. The Argentinian and US collaborative teams will extend this magnetic polarity record back another ~ 20 million years in time, and expand it laterally to provide magnetic reversal time lines across the depositional basin. They hope to recover the end of the Cretaceous Long Normal interval, which is one of the most distinctive events in the history of Earth?s magnetic field. The new data should refine depositional models of the basin, allow better estimates of potential hydrocarbon reserves, and allow biotic events in the Southern hemisphere to be compared more precisely with those elsewhere on Earth. Other potential benefits of this work include exposing several US students and postdoctoral fellows to field based research in Antarctica, expanding the international aspects of this collaborative work via joint IAA/US field deployments, and follow-up laboratory investigations and personnel exchange of the Junior scientists.<br/><br/><br/>Technical Description of Project <br/>The proposed research will extend the stratigraphic record in the late Cretaceous and early Tertiary sediments (~ 83 to 65 Ma before present) of the James Ross Basin, Antarctica, using paleo-magnetic methods. Recent efforts provided new methods to analyze these rocks, yielding their primary magnetization, and producing both magnetic polarity patterns and paleomagnetic pole positions. This provided the first reliable age constraints for the younger sediments on Seymour Island, and quantified the sedimentation rate in this part of the basin. The new data will allow resolution of the stable, remnant magnetization of the sediments from the high deposition rate James Ross basin (Tobin et al., 2012), yielding precise chronology/stratigraphy. This approach will be extended to the re-maining portions of this sedimentary basin, and will allow quantitative estimates for tectonic and sedimentary processes between Cretaceous and Early Tertiary time. The proposed field work will refine the position of several geomagnetic reversals that occurred be-tween the end of the Cretaceous long normal period (Chron 34N, ~ 83 Ma), and the lower portion of Chron 31R (~ 71 Ma). Brandy Bay provides the best locality for calibrating the stratigraphic position of the top of the Cretaceous Long Normal Chron, C34N. Although the top of the Cretaceous long normal Chron is one of the most important correlation horizons in the entire geological timescale, it is not properly correlated to the southern hemisphere biostratigraphy. Locating this event, as well as the other reversals, will be a major addition to understanding of the geological history of the Antarctic Peninsula. These data will also help refine tectonic models for the evolution of the Southern continents, which will be of use across the board for workers in Cretaceous stratigraphy (including those involved in oil exploration).<br/>This research is a collaborative effort with Dr. Edward Olivero of the Centro Austral de Investigaciones Cientificas (CADIC/CONICET) and Prof. Augusto Rapalini of the University of Buenos Aires. The collaboration will include collection of samples on their future field excursions to important targets on and around James Ross Island, supported by the Argentinian Antarctic Program (IAA). Argentinian scientists and students will also be involved in the US Antarctic program deployments, proposed here for the R/V Laurence Gould, and will continue the pattern of joint international publication of the results.
With 70% of the Earth's surface being covered by oceans, a longstanding question of interest to the ecology of migratory seabirds is how they locate their prey across such vast distances. The project seeks to investigate the sensory strategies used in the foraging behavior of procellariiform seabirds, such as petrels, albatrosses and shearwaters. These birds routinely travel over thousands of kilometers of open ocean, apparently using their pronounced olfactory abilities (known to be up to a million times more sensitive than other birds) to identify productive marine areas or locate prey. High resolution tracking, such as provided by miniaturized GPS data loggers (+/- 5m; 10 second sampling), are needed to gain insight into some of the questions as to the sensory mechanisms birds use to locate their prey. Combining these tracking and positioning devices along with stomach temperature recorders capable of indicating prey ingestion, will provide a wealth of new behavioral information. Species specific foraging based on prey specific odors (e.g. krill vs fisheries vs. squid), and mixed strategies using olfaction and visual cues appear to be different for these different marine predators. <br/><br/>Albatrosses are increasingly an endangered species globally, and additional information as to their foraging strategies might lead to better conservation measures such as the avoidance of by-catch by long-line fisheries.<br/>Intimate details of each species foraging activity patterns during the day and night and insight into the conservation of these top predators in pelagic Southern Ocean ecosystems are a few of the research directions these novel fine scale resolution approaches are yielding.
Waddington/1246045 <br/><br/>This award supports a project to investigate the onset and growth of folds and other disturbances seen in the stratigraphic layers of polar ice sheets. The intellectual merit of the work is that it will lead to a better understanding of the grain-scale processes that control the development of these stratigraphic features in the ice and will help answer questions such as what processes can initiate such disturbances. Snow is deposited on polar ice sheets in layers that are generally flat, with thicknesses that vary slowly along the layers. However, ice cores and ice-penetrating radar show that in some cases, after conversion to ice, and following lengthy burial, the layers can become folded, develop pinch-and-swell structures (boudinage), and be sheared by ice flow, at scales ranging from centimeters to hundreds of meters. The processes causing these disturbances are still poorly understood. Disturbances appear to develop first at the ice-crystal scale, then cascade up to larger scales with continuing ice flow and strain. Crystal-scale processes causing distortions of cm-scale layers will be modeled using Elle, a microstructure-modeling package, and constrained by fabric thin-sections and grain-elongation measurements from the West Antarctic Ice Sheet divide ice-core. A full-stress continuum anisotropic ice-flow model coupled to an ice-fabric evolution model will be used to study bulk flow of anisotropic ice, to understand evolution and growth of flow disturbances on the meter and larger scale. Results from this study will assist in future ice-core site selection, and interpretation of stratigraphy in ice cores and radar, and will provide improved descriptions of rheology and stratigraphy for ice-sheet flow models.The broader impacts are that it will bring greater understanding to ice dynamics responsible for stratigraphic disturbance. This information is valuable to constrain depth-age relationships in ice cores for paleoclimate study. This will allow researchers to put current climate change in a more accurate context. This project will provide three years of support for a graduate student as well as support and research experience for an undergraduate research assistant; this will contribute to development of talent needed to address important future questions in glaciology and climate change. The research will be communicated to the public through outreach events and results from the study will be disseminated through public and professional meetings as well as journal publications. The project does not require field work in Antarctica.
The McMurdo Dry Valleys in Antarctica are recognized as being the driest, coldest and probably one of the harshest environments on Earth. In addition to the lack of water, the biota in the valleys face a very limited supply of nutrients such as nitrogen compounds - necessary for protein synthesis. The glacial streams of the Dry Valleys have extensive cyanobacterial (blue green algae) mats that are a major source of carbon and nitrogen compounds to biota in this region. While cyanobacteria in streams are important as a source of these compounds, other non-photosynthetic bacteria also contribute a significant fraction (~50%) of fixed nitrogen compounds to valley biota. This research effort will involve an examination of exactly which non-phototrophic bacteria are involved in nitrogen fixation and what environmental factors are responsible for controlling nitrogen fixation by these microbes. This work will resolve the environmental factors that control the activity, abundance and diversity of nitrogen-fixing microbes across four of the McMurdo Dry Valleys. This will allow for comparisons among sites of differing latitude, temperature, elevation and exposure to water. These results will be integrated into a landscape wetness model that will help determine the impact of both cyanobacterial and non-photosynthetic nitrogen fixing microorganisms in this very harsh environment.<br/><br/>The Dry Valleys in many ways resemble the Martian environment, and understanding the primitive life and very simple nutrient cycling in the Dry Valleys has relevance for understanding how life might have once existed on other planets. Furthermore, the study of microbes from extreme environments has resulted in numerous biotechnological applications such as the polymerase chain reaction for amplifying DNA and mechanisms for freeze resistance in agricultural crops. Thus, this research should yield insights into how biota survive in extreme environments, and these insights could lead to other commercial applications.
Building on previously funded NSF research, the use of paleobiological and paleogenetic data from mummified elephant seal carcasses found along the Dry Valleys and Victoria Land Coast in areas that today are too cold to support seal colonies (Mirougina leonina; southern elephant seals; SES) supports the former existence of these seals in this region. The occurrence and then subsequent disappearance of these SES colonies is consistent with major shifts in the Holocene climate to much colder conditions at the last ~1000 years BCE). <br/><br/>Further analysis of the preserved remains of three other abundant pinnipeds ? crabeater (Lobodon carciophagus), Weddell (Leptonychotes weddelli) and leopard (Hydrurga leptonyx) will be studied to track changes in their population size (revealed by DNA analysis) and their diet (studied via stable isotope analysis). Combined with known differences in life history, preferred ice habitat and ecosystem sensitivity among these species, this paleoclimate proxy data will be used to assess their exposure and sensitivity to climate change in the Ross Sea region during the past ~1-2,000 years
This CAREER proposal will support an early career female PI to establish an integrated research and education program in the fields of polar biology and environmental microbiology, focusing on single-celled eukaryotes (protists) in high latitude ice-covered Antarctic lakes systems. Protists play important roles in energy flow and material cycling, and act as both primary producers (fixing inorganic carbon by photosynthesis) and consumers (preying on bacteria by phagotrophic digestion). The McMurdo Dry Valleys (MDV) located in Victoria Land, Antarctica, harbor microbial communities which are isolated in the unique aquatic ecosystem of perennially ice-capped lakes. The lakes support exclusively microbial consortia in chemically stratified water columns that are not influenced by seasonal mixing, allochthonous inputs, or direct human impact. This project will exploit permanently stratified biogeochemistry that is unique across the water columns of several MDV lakes to address gaps in our understanding of protist trophic function in aquatic food webs. The proposed research will examine (1) the impact of permanent biogeochemical gradients on protist trophic strategy, (2) the effect of major abiotic drivers (light and nutrients) on the distribution of two key mixotrophic and photoautotrophic protist species, and (3) the effect of episodic nutrient pulses on mixotroph communities in high latitude (ultraoligotrophic) MDV lakes versus low latitude (eutrophic) watersheds. The project will impact the fields of microbial ecology and environmental microbiology by combining results from field, laboratory and in situ incubation studies to synthesize new models for the protist trophic roles in the aquatic food web. The research component of this proposed project will be tightly integrated with the development of two new education activities designed to exploit the inherent excitement associated with polar biological research. The educational objectives are: 1) to establish a teaching module in polar biology in a core undergraduate course for microbiology majors; 2) to develop an instructional module to engage middle school girls in STEM disciplines. Undergraduates and middle school girls will also work with a doctoral student on his experiments in local Ohio watersheds.
This award supports a project to use the Roosevelt Island ice core as a glaciological dipstick for the eastern Ross Sea. Recent attention has focused on the eastern Ross Embayment, where there are no geological constraints on ice thickness changes, due to the lack of protruding rock "dipsticks" where the ice sheet can leave datable records of high stands. Recent work has shown how dated ice cores can be used as dipsticks to derive ice-thickness histories. Partners from New Zealand and Denmark will extract an ice core from Roosevelt Island during the 2010-2011 and 2011-12 austral summers. Their science objective is to contribute to understanding of climate variability over the past 40kyr. The science goal of this project is not the climate record, but rather the history of deglaciation in the Ross Sea. The new history from the eastern Ross Sea will be combined with the glacial histories from the central Ross Sea (Siple Dome and Byrd) and existing and emerging histories from geologic and marine records along the western Ross Sea margin and will allow investigators to establish an updated, self-consistent model of the configuration and thickness of ice in the Ross Embayment during the LGM, and the timing of deglaciation. Results from this work will provide ground truth for new-generation ice-sheet models that incorporate ice streams and fast-flow dynamics. Realistic ice-sheet models are needed not only for predicting the response to future possible environments, but also for investigating past behaviors of ice sheets. This research contributes to the primary goals of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet Initiative as well as the IPY focus on ice-sheet history and dynamics. It also contributes to understanding spatial and temporal patterns of climate change and climate dynamics over the past 40kyr, one of the primary goals of the International Partnerships in Ice Core Sciences (IPICS). The project will help to develop the next generation of scientists and will contribute to the education and training of two Ph.D. students. All participants will benefit from the international collaboration, which will expose them to different field and laboratory techniques and benefit future collaborative work. All participants are involved in scientific outreach and undergraduate education, and are committed to fostering diversity. Outreach will be accomplished through regularly scheduled community and K-12 outreach events, talks and popular writing by the PIs, as well as through University press offices.
Kleptoplasty, the temporary acquisition and use of functional chloroplasts derived from algal prey, is viewed as an important model for the early evolution of the permanent, endosymbiotically-derived chloroplasts found in all permanently photosynthetic eukaryotes. This project will study the evolutionary history and expression of plastid-targeted genes in an abundant Antarctic dinoflagellate that steals chloroplasts from an ecologically important alga, the haptophyte Phaeocystis. Algae play an important role in the fixation and export of CO2 in the Southern Ocean, and this project will explore the genetic basis for the function of these chimeric cells with regard to their functional adaptation to extreme environments and will study the evolutionary history and expression of plastid-targeted genes in both the host and recipient. The project seeks to determine whether the kleptoplastidic dinoflagellate utilizes ancestral plastid proteins to regulate its stolen plastid, and how their transcription is related to environmental factors that are relevant to the Southern Ocean environment (temperature and light). To accomplish these goals, the project will utilize high throughput transcriptome analysis and RNA-sequencing experiments with the dinoflagellate and Phaeocystis. <br/><br/>This work will help biologists understand the environmental success of this alternative nutritional strategy, and to assess the potential impact of anthropogenic climate change on the organism. The project will also contribute to the maintenance of a culture collection of heterotrophic, phototrophic and mixotrophic Antarctic protists that are available to the scientific community, and it will support the mentoring of a graduate student and a postdoctoral fellow. The work is being accomplished as an international collaboration between US and Canadian scientists, and in addition to publishing results in peer-reviewed journals, the investigators will incorporate aspects of this work into public outreach activities. These include field data analysis opportunities for middle school students and science-based art projects with local schools and museums.
Intellectual Merit: <br/>The PI hypothesizes that bedforms found in the Central and Joides troughs can be interpreted as having been formed by rapid retreat, and possible collapse of an ice stream that occupied this area. To test this hypothesis, the PI proposes to conduct a detailed marine geological and geophysical survey of Central and Joides Troughs in the western Ross Sea. This project will bridge gaps between the small and isolated areas previously surveyed and will acquire a detailed sedimentological record of the retreating grounding line. The PI will reconstruct the retreat history of the Central and Joides troughs to century-scale resolution using radiocarbon dating methods and by looking at geomorphic features that are formed at regular time intervals. Existing multibeam, deep tow side-scan sonar, and core data will provide a framework for this research. The western Ross Sea is an ideal study area to investigate a single ice stream and the dynamics controlling its stability, including interactions between both East and West Antarctic Ice Sheets. <br/><br/>Broader impacts: <br/>This proposal includes a post-doc, a graduate and two undergraduate students. The post-doc is involved with teaching an in-service K-12 teacher development and training course at Rice University for high-need teachers with a focus on curriculum enhancement. The project fosters collaboration for the PI and students with researchers at Louisiana State University and international colleagues at the Institute for Paleobiology at the Polish Academy of Sciences. The results from this project could lead to a better understanding of ice sheet and ice stream stability. This project will yield implications for society's understanding of climate change, as this work improves understanding of the behavior of ice sheets and their links to global climate.
The PI requests support to analyze sediments from multi-cores and mega-cores previously collected from beneath the former Larsen B and Larsen A ice shelves. These unique cores will allow the PI to develop a time-integrated understanding of the benthic response to ice shelf collapse off the East Antarctic Peninsula over time periods as short as 5 years following ice shelf collapse up to >170 years after collapse. High latitudes are responding to climate change more rapidly than the rest of the planet and the disappearance of ice shelves are a key manifestation of climate warming. The PI will investigate the newly created benthic environments and associated ecosystems that have resulted from the re-initiation of fresh planktonic material to the sediment-water interface. This proposal will use a new geochemical technique, based on naturally occurring 14C that can be used to assess the distribution and inventory of recently produced organic carbon accumulating in the sediments beneath the former Larsen A and B ice shelves. The PI will couple 14C measurements with 210Pb analyses to assess turnover times for sedimentary labile organic matter. By comparing the distributions and inventories of labile organic matter as well as the bioturbation intensities among different locations as a function of time following ice shelf collapse/retreat, the nature and timing of the benthic response to ice shelf collapse can be assessed.
Like no other region on Earth, the northern Antarctic Peninsula represents a spectacular natural laboratory of climate change and provides the opportunity to study the record of past climate and ecological shifts alongside the present-day changes in one of the most rapidly warming regions on Earth. This award supports the cryospheric and oceano-graphic components of an integrated multi-disciplinary program to address these rapid and fundamental changes now taking place in Antarctic Peninsula (AP). By making use of a marine research platform (the RV NB Palmer and on-board helicopters) and additional logistical support from the Argentine Antarctic program, the project will bring glaciologists, oceanographers, marine geologists and biologists together, working collaboratively to address fundamentally interdisciplinary questions regarding climate change. The project will include gathering a new, high-resolution paleoclimate record from the Bruce Plateau of Graham Land, and using it to compare Holocene- and possibly glacial-epoch climate to the modern period; investigating the stability of the remaining Larsen Ice Shelf and rapid post-breakup glacier response ? in particular, the roles of surface melt and ice-ocean interactions in the speed-up and retreat; observing the contribution of, and response of, oceanographic systems to ice shelf disintegration and ice-glacier interactions. Helicopter support on board will allow access to a wide range of glacial and geological areas of interest adjacent to the Larsen embayment. At these locations, long-term in situ glacial monitoring, isostatic uplift, and ice flow GPS sites will be established, and high-resolution ice core records will be obtained using previously tested lightweight drilling equipment. Long-term monitoring of deep water outflow will, for the first time, be integrated into changes in ice shelf extent and thickness, bottom water formation, and multi-level circulation by linking near-source observations to distal sites of concentrated outflow. The broader impacts of this international, multidisciplinary effort are that it will significantly advance our understanding of linkages amongst the earth's systems in the Polar Regions, and are proposed with international participation (UK, Spain, Belgium, Germany and Argentina) and interdisciplinary engagement in the true spirit of the International Polar Year (IPY). It will also provide a means of engaging and educating the public in virtually all aspects of polar science and the effects of ongoing climate change. The research team has a long record of involving undergraduates in research, educating high-performing graduate students, and providing innovative and engaging outreach products to the K-12 education and public media forums. Moreover, forging the new links both in science and international Antarctic programs will provide a continuing legacy, beyond IPY, of improved understanding and cooperation in Antarctica.
This award is funded under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (Public Law 111-5). The West Antarctic Ice Sheet is believed to be vulnerable to climate change as it is grounded below sea level, is drained by rapidly flowing ice streams and is fringed by floating ice shelves subject to melting by incursions of relatively warm Antarctic circumpolar water. Currently, the most rapidly thinning glaciers in Antarctica occur in the Amundsen and Bellingshausen Sea sectors. This study seeks to place the present day observations into a longer-term geological context over a broad scale by high-resolution swath bathymetric mapping of continental shelf sea floor features that indicate past ice presence and behavior. Gaps in existing survey coverage of glacial lineations and troughs indicating ice flow direction and paleo-grounding zone wedges over the Ross, Amundsen and Bellingshausen Sea sectors are targeted. The surveys will be conducted as part of the 2010 Icebreaker Oden science opportunity and will take advantage of the vessel?s state-of-the-art swath mapping system.<br/><br/>Broader impacts:<br/>This activity will supplement and complement more focused regional studies by US, Swedish, UK, French, Japanese and Polish collaborators also sailing on the Oden. The PI will compile bathymetric data to be acquired by the Oden and other ships in the region over the duration of the project into the existing bathymetric data base. The compiled data set will be made publically available through the NSF founded Antarctic Multibeam Bathymetry and Geophysical Data Synthesis (AMBS) site. It will also be integrated into the GEBCO International Bathymetric Chart of the Southern Ocean (IBCSO) and so significantly improve the basis for ship navigation in the Pacific sector of the Southern Ocean. Undergraduate students will be involved in the research under supervision of the PI via the Lamont summer internship program. The PI is a young investigator and this will be his first NSF grant as a PI.
This project will investigate the marine component of the Totten Glacier and Moscow University Ice Shelf, East Antarctica. This system is of critical importance because it drains one-eighth of the East Antarctic Ice Sheet and contains a volume equivalent to nearly 7 meters of potential sea level rise, greater than the entire West Antarctic Ice Sheet. This nearly completely unexplored region is the single largest and least understood marine glacial system that is potentially unstable. Despite intense scrutiny of marine based systems in the West Antarctic Ice Sheet, little is known about the Totten Glacier system. This study will add substantially to the meager oceanographic and marine geology and geophysics data available in this region, and will significantly advance understanding of this poorly understood glacial system and its potentially sensitive response to environmental change.<br/><br/>Independent, space-based platforms indicate accelerating mass loss of the Totten system. Recent aerogeophysical surveys of the Aurora Subglacial Basin, which contains the deepest ice in Antarctica and drains into the Totten system, have provided the subglacial context for measured surface changes and show that the Totten Glacier has been the most significant drainage pathway for at least two previous ice flow regimes. However, the offshore context is far less understood. Limited physical oceanographic data from the nearby shelf/slope break indicate the presence of Modified Circumpolar Deep Water within a thick bottom layer at the mouth of a trough with apparent access to Totten Glacier, suggesting the possibility of sub-glacial bottom inflow of relatively warm water, a process considered to be responsible for West Antarctic Ice Sheet grounding line retreat. This project will conduct a ship-based marine geologic and geophysical survey of the region, combined with a physical oceanographic study, in order to evaluate both the recent and longer-term behavior of the glacial system and its relationship to the adjacent oceanographic system. This endeavor will complement studies of other Antarctic ice shelves, oceanographic studies near the Antarctic Peninsula, and ongoing development of ice sheet and other ocean models.
Intellectual Merit: <br/>The PIs propose to complement the ANDRILL marine record with a terrestrial project that will provide chronological control for past fluctuations of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet (WAIS) and alpine glaciers in McMurdo Sound. The project will develop high-resolution maps of drifts deposited from grounded marine-based ice and alpine glaciers on islands and peninsulas in McMurdo Sound. In addition, the PIs will acquire multi-clast/multi-nuclide cosmogenic analyses of these mapped drift sheets and alpine moraines and use regional climate modeling to shed light on the range of possible environmental conditions in the McMurdo region during periods of grounded ice expansion and recession. The PIs will make use of geological records for ice sheet and alpine glacier fluctuations preserved on the flanks of Mount Discovery, Black Island, and Brown Peninsula. Drifts deposited from grounded, marine-based ice will yield spatial constraints for former advances and retreats of the WAIS. Moraines from alpine glaciers, hypothesized to be of interglacial origin, could yield a first-order record of hydrologic change in the region. Synthesizing the field data, the team proposes to improve the resolution of existing regional-scale climate models for the Ross Embayment. The overall approach and anticipated results will provide the first steps towards linking the marine and terrestrial records in this critical sector of Antarctica.<br/><br/>Broader impacts: <br/>Results from the proposed work will be integrated with outreach programs at Boston University, Columbia University, and Worcester State University. The team will actively collaborate with the American Museum of Natural History to feature this project prominently in museum outreach. The team will also include a PolarTREC teacher as a member of the research team. The geomorphological results will be presented in 3D at Boston University?s Antarctic Digital Image Analyses Lab. The research will form the basis of a PhD dissertation at Boston University.
The McMurdo Dry Valleys (MDV) is a polar desert on the coast of East Antarctica, a region that has not yet experienced climate warming. The McMurdo Dry Valleys Long Term Ecological Research (MCMLTER) project has documented the ecological responses of the glacier, soil, stream and lake ecosystems in the MDV during a cooling trend (from 1986 to 2000) which was associated with the depletion of atmospheric ozone. In the past decade, warming events with strong katabatic winds occurred during two summers and the resulting high streamflows and sediment deposition changed the dry valley landscape, possibly presaging conditions that will occur when the ozone hole recovers. In anticipation of future warming in Antarctica, the overarching hypothesis of the proposed project is: Climate warming in the McMurdo Dry Valley ecosystem will amplify connectivity among landscape units leading to enhanced coupling of nutrient cycles across landscapes, and increased biodiversity and productivity within the ecosystem. Warming in the MDV is hypothesized to act as a slowly developing, long-term press of warmer summers, upon which transient pulse events of high summer flows and strong katabatic winds will be overprinted. Four specific hypotheses address the ways in which pulses of water and wind will influence contemporary and future ecosystem structure, function and connectivity. Because windborne transport of biota is a key aspect of enhanced connectivity from katabatic winds, new monitoring will include high-resolution measurements of aeolian particle flux. Importantly, integrative genomics will be employed to understand the responses of specific organisms to the increased connectivity. The project will also include a novel social science component that will use environmental history to examine interactions between human activity, scientific research, and environmental change in the MDV over the past 100 years. To disseminate this research broadly, MCM scientists will participate in a wide array of outreach efforts ranging from presentations in K-12 classrooms to bringing undergraduates and teachers to the MDV to gain research experience. Planned outreach programs will build upon activities conducted during the International Polar Year (2007-2008), which include development of an interactive DVD for high school students and teachers and publication of a children's book in the LTER Schoolyard Book Series. A teacher's edition of the book with a CD containing lesson plans will be distributed. The project will develop programs for groups traditionally underrepresented in science arenas by publishing some outreach materials in Spanish.
Southern Ocean Carbon and Climate Observations and Modeling (SOCCOM) project seeks to drive a transformative shift in our understanding of the crucial role of the Southern Ocean in taking up anthropogenic carbon and heat, and resupplying nutrients from the abyss to the surface. An observational program will generate vast amounts of new biogeochemical data that will provide a greatly improved view of the dynamics and ecosystem responses of the Southern Ocean. A modeling component will apply these observations to enhancing understanding of the current ocean, reducing uncertainty in projections of future carbon and nutrient cycles and climate.<br/><br/>Because it serves as the primary gateway through which the intermediate, deep, and bottom waters of the ocean interact with the surface layers and thus the atmosphere, the Southern Ocean has a profound influence on the oceanic uptake of anthropogenic carbon and heat as well as nutrient resupply from the abyss to the surface. Yet it is the least observed and understood region of the world ocean. The oceanographic community is on the cusp of two major advances that have the potential to transform understanding of the Southern Ocean. The first is the development of new biogeochemical sensors mounted on autonomous profiling floats that allow sampling of ocean biogeochemistry and acidification in 3-dimensional space with a temporal resolution of five to ten days. The SOCCOM float program proposed will increase the average number of biogeochemical profiles measured per month in the Southern Ocean by ~10-30x. The second is that the climate modeling community now has the computational resources and physical understanding to develop fully coupled climate models that can represent crucial mesoscale processes in the Southern Ocean, as well as corresponding models that assimilate observations to produce a state estimate. Together with the observations, this new generation of models provides the tools to vastly improve understanding of Southern Ocean processes and the ability to quantitatively assess uptake of anthropogenic carbon and heat, as well as nutrient resupply, both today and into the future.<br/><br/>In order to take advantage of the above technological and modeling breakthroughs, SOCCOM will implement the following research programs:<br/>* Theme 1: Observations. Scripps Institution of Oceanography will lead a field program to expand the number of Southern Ocean autonomous profiling floats and equip them with sensors to measure pH, nitrate, and oxygen. The University of Washington and Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute will design, build, and oversee deployment of the floats. Scripps will also develop a mesoscale eddying Southern Ocean state estimate that assimilates physical and biogeochemical data into the MIT ocean general circulation model.<br/>* Theme 2: Modeling. University of Arizona and Princeton University, together with NOAA's Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory (GFDL), will use SOCCOM observations to develop data/model assessment metrics and next-generation model analysis and evaluation, with the goal of improving process level understanding and reducing the uncertainty in projections of our future climate.<br/><br/>Led by Climate Central, an independent, non-profit journalism and research organization that promotes understanding of climate science, SOCCOM will collaborate with educators and media professionals to inform policymakers and the public about the challenges of climate change and its impacts on marine life in the context of the Southern Ocean. In addition, the integrated team of SOCCOM scientists and educators will:<br/>* communicate data and results of the SOCCOM efforts quickly to the public through established data networks, publications, broadcast media, and a public portal;<br/>* train a new generation of diverse ocean scientists, including undergraduate students, graduate students, and postdoctoral fellows versed in field techniques, data calibration, modeling, and communication of research to non-scientists;<br/>* transfer new sensor technology and related software to autonomous instrument providers and manufacturers to ensure that they become widely useable.
The extreme mountain topographies of alpine landscapes at mid latitudes (e.g., European Alps, Patagonia, Alaska) are thought to have formed by the erosive action of glaciers, yet our understanding of exactly when and how those topographies developed is limited. If glacial ice was responsible for forming them, then those landscapes must have developed primarily over the last 2-3 million years when ice was present at those latitudes; this timing has only recently been confirmed by observations. In contrast, the Antarctic Peninsula, which contains similarly spectacular topographic relief, is known to have hosted alpine glaciers as early as 37 million years ago, and is currently covered by ice. Thus, if caused by glacial erosion, the high relief of the peninsula should have formed much earlier than what has been observed at mid latitude sites, yet we know nearly nothing about the timing of its development. The primary benefit of this research will be to study the timing of topography development along the Antarctic Peninsula by applying state of the art chemical analyses to sediments collected offshore. This research is important because studying a high latitude site will enable comparison with sites at mid latitudes and test current hypotheses on the development of glacial landscapes in general.<br/><br/>This project aims to apply low-temperature thermochronometry based on the (U-Th)/He system in apatite to investigate the exhumation history, the development of the present topography, and the pattern of glacial erosion in the central Antarctic Peninsula. A number of recent studies have used this approach to study the dramatic, high-relief landscapes formed by Pleistocene alpine glacial erosion in temperate latitudes: New Zealand, the Alps, British Columbia, Alaska, and Patagonia. These studies have not only revealed when these landscapes formed, but have also provided new insights into the physical mechanisms of glacial erosion. The Antarctic Peninsula is broadly akin to temperate alpine landscapes in that the dominant landforms are massive glacial troughs. However, what we know about Antarctic glacial history suggests that the timing and history of glacial erosion was most likely very different from the temperate alpine setting: The Antarctic Peninsula has been glaciated since the Eocene, and Pleistocene climate cooling is hypothesized to have suppressed, rather than enhanced, glacial erosion. Our goal is to evaluate these hypotheses by developing a direct thermochronometric record of when and how the present glacial valley relief formed. We propose to learn about the timing and process of glacial valley formation through apatite (U-Th)/He and 4He/3He measurements on glacial sediment collected near the grounding lines of major glaciers draining the Peninsula. In effect, since we cannot sample bedrock directly that is currently covered by ice, we will rely on these glaciers to do it for us.
Interest in the reduced alkalinity of high latitude waters under conditions of enhanced CO2 uptake from the atmosphere have been the impetus of numerous recent studies of bio-stressors in the polar marine environment. The project seeks to improve our understanding of the variance of coastal Southern Ocean carbonate species (CO2 system), its diurnal and inter-annual variability, by acquiring autonomous, high frequency observations from an Antarctic coastal mooring(s). <br/><br/>A moored observing system co-located within the existing Palmer LTER array will measure pH, CO2 partial pressure, temperature, salinity and dissolved oxygen with 3-hour frequency in this region of the West Antarctic Peninsula continental shelf. Such observations will help estimate the dominant physical and biological controls on the seasonal variations in the CO2 system in coastal Antarctic waters, including the sign, seasonality and the flux of the net annual air-sea exchange of carbon dioxide. The Palmer LTER site is experiencing rapid ecological change in the West Antarctic Peninsula, a region that is warming at rates faster than any other region of coastal Antarctica.
The application of innovative ocean observing and animal telemetry technology over Palmer Deep (Western Antarctic Peninsula; WAP) is leading to new understanding, and also to many new questions related to polar ecosystem processes and their control by bio-physical interactions in the polar environment. This multi-platform field study will investigate the impact of coastal physical processes (e.g. tides, currents, upwelling events, sea-ice) on Adélie penguin foraging ecology in the vicinity of Palmer Deep, off Anvers Island, WAP. Guided by real-time surface convergence and divergences based on remotely sensed surface current maps derived from a coastal network of High Frequency Radars (HFRs), a multidisciplinary research team will adaptively sample the distribution of phytoplankton and zooplankton, which influence Adélie penguin foraging ecology, to understand how local oceanographic processes structure the ecosystem. <br/><br/>Core educational objectives of this proposal are to increase awareness and<br/>understanding of (i) global climate change, (ii) the unique WAP ecosystem, (iii) innovative methods and technologies used by the researchers, and (iv) careers in ocean sciences, through interactive interviews with scientists, students, and technicians, during the field work. These activities will be directed towards instructional programming for K-16 students and their teachers. Researchers and educators will conduct formative and summative evaluation to improve the educational program and measure its impacts respectively.
This project will support two training courses that will introduce early-career scientists from a wide range of disciplinary backgrounds to key issues in polar science, and especially to provide the opportunity to gain hands-on experience in Antarctic field activities. Antarctica is an ideal location to study a wide variety of questions in biology. However, few students and early-career scientists have the opportunity to work on-site in Antarctica unless they are directly associated with a senior scientist who has a funded Antarctic project. The project will further the NSF goal of training new generations of scientists by providing hands-on training in Antarctica during one course at Palmer Station in 2016 and another at McMurdo Station in 2018. This represents a continuation of nine previous courses at McMurdo Station which have a proven record of introducing participants to Antarctic science under realistic field conditions, providing opportunities to understand and appreciate the complexities and logistical challenges of undertaking science in Antarctica, enhancing the professional careers of the participants, and increasing international collaborations for early-career scientists.<br/><br/>The proposed training courses will be open to Ph.D. students and post-doctoral scientists who have interests in the study of Antarctic marine organisms to help prepare them for success in developing their own independent research programs in polar regions. Long-standing and recent questions in evolution and ecology of Antarctic organisms will be examined with 1) field collections, 2) physiological experiments on whole organisms, 3) studies of isolated cells and tissues, 4) experiments on macromolecular processes (e.g., enzymes), and 5) molecular biological analyses.
This project aims to identify which portions of the glacial cover in the Antarctic Peninsula are losing mass to the ocean. This is an important issue to resolve because the Antarctic Peninsula is warming at a faster rate than any other region across the earth. Even though glaciers across the Antarctic Peninsula are small, compared to the continental ice sheet, defining how rapidly they respond to both ocean and atmospheric temperature rise is critical. It is critical because it informs us about the exact mechanisms which regulate ice flow and melting into the ocean. For instance, after the break- up of the Larsen Ice Shelf in 2002 many glaciers began to flow rapidly into the sea. Measuring how much ice was involved is difficult and depends upon accurate estimates of volume and area. One way to increase the accuracy of our estimates is to measure how fast the Earth's crust is rebounding or bouncing back, after the ice has been removed. This rebound effect can be measured with very precise techniques using instruments locked into ice free bedrock surrounding the area of interest. These instruments are monitored by a set of positioning satellites (the Global Positioning System or GPS) in a continuous fashion. Of course the movement of the Earth's bedrock relates not only to the immediate response but also the longer term rate that reflects the long vanished ice masses that once covered the entire Antarctic Peninsula?at the time of the last glaciation. These rebound measurements can, therefore, also tell us about the amount of ice which covered the Antarctic Peninsula thousands of years ago. Glacial isostatic rebound is one of the complicating factors in allowing us to understand how much the larger ice sheets are losing today, something that can be estimated by satellite techniques but only within large errors when the isostatic (rebound) correction is unknown.<br/><br/>The research proposed consists of maintaining a set of six rebound stations until the year 2016, allowing for a longer time series and thus more accurate estimates of immediate elastic and longer term rebound effects. It also involves the establishment of two additional GPS stations that will focus on constraining the "bull's eye" of rebound suggested by measurements over the past two years. In addition, several more geologic data points will be collected that will help to reconstruct the position of the ice sheet margin during its recession from the full ice sheet of the last glacial maximum. These will be based upon the coring of marine sediment sequences now recognized to have been deposited along the margins of retreating ice sheets and outlets. Precise dating of the ice margin along with the new and improved rebound data will help to constrain past ice sheet configurations and refine geophysical models related to the nature of post glacial rebound. Data management will be under the auspices of the UNAVCO polar geophysical network or POLENET and will be publically available at the time of station installation. This project is a small scale extension of the ongoing LARsen Ice Shelf, Antarctica Project (LARISSA), an IPY (International Polar Year)-funded interdisciplinary study aimed at understanding earth system connections related to the Larsen Ice Shelf and the northern Antarctic Peninsula.
This project focuses on an important group of photosynthetic algae in the Southern Ocean (SO), diatoms, and the roles associated bacterial communities play in modulating their growth. Diatom growth fuels the SO food web and balances atmospheric carbon dioxide by sequestering the carbon used for growth to the deep ocean on long time scales as cells sink below the surface. The diatom growth is limited by the available iron in the seawater, most of which is not freely available to the diatoms but instead is tightly bound to other compounds. The nature of these compounds and how phytoplankton acquire iron from them is critical to understanding productivity in this region and globally. The investigators will conduct experiments to characterize the relationship between diatoms, their associated bacteria, and iron in open ocean and inshore waters. Experiments will involve supplying nutrients at varying nutrient ratios to natural phytoplankton assemblages to determine how diatoms and their associated bacteria respond to different conditions. This will provide valuable data that can be used by climate and food web modelers and it will help us better understand the relationship between iron, a key nutrient in the ocean, and the organisms at the base of the food web that use iron for photosynthetic growth and carbon uptake. The project will also further the NSF goals of training new generations of scientists and of making scientific discoveries available to the general public. The project supports early career senior investigators and the training of graduate and undergraduate students as well as outreach activities with middle school Girl Scouts in Rhode Island, inner city middle and high school age girls in Virginia, and middle school girls in Florida.<br/><br/>The project combines trace metal biogeochemistry, phytoplankton cultivation, and molecular biology to address questions regarding the production of iron-binding compounds and the role of diatom-bacterial interactions in this iron-limited region. Iron is an essential micronutrient for marine phytoplankton. Phytoplankton growth in the SO is limited by a lack of sufficient iron, with important consequences for carbon cycling and climate in this high latitude regime. Some of the major outstanding questions in iron biogeochemistry relate to the organic compounds that bind >99.9% of dissolved iron in surface oceans. The investigators' prior research in this region suggests that production of strong iron-binding compounds in the SO is linked to diatom blooms in waters with high nitrate to iron ratios. The sources of these compounds are unknown but the investigators hypothesize that they may be from bacteria, which are known to produce such compounds for their own use. The project will test three hypotheses concerning the production of these iron-binding compounds, limitations on the biological availability of iron even if present in high concentrations, and the roles of diatom-associated bacteria in these processes. Results from this project will provide fundamental information about the biogeochemical trigger, and biological sources and function, of natural strong iron-binding compound production in the SO, where iron plays a critical role in phytoplankton productivity, carbon cycling, and climate regulation.
The research will examine how diatoms (an important group of plankton in the Southern Ocean) adapt to environmental change. Diatoms will be sampled from different regions of the Southern Ocean, including the Drake Passage, the Pacific Sector of the Southern Ocean and the Ross Sea and examined to determine the range of genetic variation among diatoms in these regions. Experiments on a range of diatoms will be conducted in home laboratories and will be aimed at measuring shifts in physiological capacities over many generations in response to directional changes in the environment (temperature and pH). The information on the genetic diversity of field populations combined with information on potential rates of adaptability and genome changes will provide insight into ways in which polar marine diatoms populations may respond to environmental changes that may occur in surface oceans in the future or may have occurred during past climate conditions. Such information allows better modeling of biogeochemical cycles in the ocean as well as improves our abilities to interpret records of past ocean conditions. The project will support a doctoral student and a postdoctoral researcher as well as several undergraduate students. These scientists will learn the fundamentals of experimental evolution, a skill set that is being sought in the fields of biology and oceanography. The project also includes a collaboration with the Metcalf Institute for Marine and Environmental Reporting that will design and facilitate a session focused on current research related to evolution and climate change to be held at the annual conference of the National Association of Science Writers (NASW). <br/><br/>Both physiological and genetic variation are key parameters for understanding evolutionary processes in phytoplankton but they are essentially unknown for Southern Ocean diatoms. The extent to which these two factors determine plasticity and adaptability in field populations and the interaction between them will influence how and whether cold-adapted diatoms can respond to changing environments. This project includes a combination of field work to identify genetic diversity within diatoms using molecular approaches and experiments in the lab to assess the range of physiological variation in contemporary populations of diatoms and evolution experiments in the lab to assess how the combination of genetic diversity and physiological variation influence the evolutionary potential of diatoms under a changing environment. This research will uncover general relationships between physiological variation, genetic diversity, and evolutionary potential that may apply across microbial taxa and geographical regions, substantially improving efforts to predict shifts in marine ecosystems. Results from this study can be integrated into developing models that incorporate evolution to predict ecosystem changes under future climate change scenarios.
Collaborative Research: THE MCMURDO DRY VALLEYS: A Landscape on the Threshold of Change is supported by the Antarctic Integrated System Science (AISS) program in the Antarctic Sciences Section of the Division of Polar Programs within the Geosciences Directorate of the National Sciences Foundation (NSF). The funds will support the collection of state-of-the-art high resolution LIDAR (combining the terms light and radar) imagery of the Dry Valleys of Antarctica in the 2014/2015 Antarctic field season, with LIDAR data collection and processing being provided by the NSF-supported NCALM (National Center for Airborne Laser Mapping) facility. LIDAR images collected in 2014/2015 will be compared to images from 2001 in order to detect decadal change. Additional fieldwork will look at the distribution of buried massive ice, and the impacts that major changes like slumping are having on the biota. All field data will be used to improve models on energy balance, and hydrology.<br/><br/>Intellectual Merit: There have been dramatic changes over the past decade in the McMurdo Dry Valleys: rivers are incising by more than three meters, and thermokarst slumps are appearing near several streams and lakes. These observations have all been made by researchers in the field, but none of the changes have been mapped on a valley-wide scale. This award will provide a new baseline map for the entire Dry Valley system, with high-resolution imagery provided for the valley floors, and lower resolution imagery available for the higher elevation areas that are undergoing less change. The project will test the idea that sediment-covered ice is associated with the most dramatic changes, due to differential impacts of the increased solar radiation on sediment-covered compared to clean ice, and despite the current trend of slightly cooling air temperatures within the Dry Valleys. Information collected on the topography, coupled with the GPR determined buried ice distributions, will also be incorporated into improved energy and hydrological models. In addition to providing the new high-resolution digital elevation model (DEM), the project will ultimately result in identification of areas that are susceptible to sediment-enhanced melt-driven change, providing a powerful prediction tool for the impacts of climate change.<br/><br/>Broader Impacts: The new DEM will be immediately useful to a wide range of disciplines, and will provide a comprehensive new baseline against which future changes will be compared. The project will provide a tool for the whole community to use, and the investigators will work with the community to make them aware of the new assets via public presentations, and perhaps via a workshop. The map will have international interest, and will also serve as a tool for environmental managers to draw on as they consider conservation plans. Several undergraduate and graduate students will participate in the project, and one of the co-PIs is a new investigator. The imagery collected is expected to be of interest to the general public in addition to scientific researchers, and venues for outreach such as museum exhibits and the internet will be explored. The proposed work is synergistic with 1) the co-located McMurdo LTER program, and 2) the NCALM facility that is also funded by the Geosciences Directorate.
This award supports a Rapid Response Research (RAPID) project to observe the current weakened state of the Scar Inlet Ice Shelf, and potentially capture data during its anticipated disintegration. The Scar Inlet Ice Shelf (SIIS) is the southern remnant of the former Larsen B Ice Shelf, which disintegrated in March of 2002. Since then, the SIIS has weakened significantly but has not yet broken up. Cooler conditions than those seen prior to 2006 have reduced the chance of a disintegration in recent years, although a single warm season is likely to be enough to trigger such an event. The predicted "Super El Nino" for this austral summer may have significant effects on Antarctica's weather, potentially leading to a break-up or disintegration this year. Given the very weak state of the SIIS, it is urgent that we act now to better understand the processes involved in shelf disintegration or break-up of ice shelves. The goal of this work is to collect several key data sets, publish initial observations and preliminary conclusions, and then make the complete data record available to all scientists.<br/><br/>Extreme changes in the stress conditions on the SIIS resulted from both the loss of the Larsen B ice plate and the continued inflow of ice from three large glaciers (Flask, Leppard, and Starbuck). The SIIS now has a number of large rifts and it is expected to break up or disintegrate in the very near future. Past research has made use of satellite data and weather instruments, establishing many of the current ideas regarding ice shelf break-ups and ice shelf weakening. Additional ground-based data to be collected under this study will test a number of hypotheses regarding pre-disintegration characteristics, triggering mechanisms, fracturing processes, runaway feedback effects, and stabilizing mechanisms. The project will collect extensive multi-instrument field observations of the SIIS and possibly capture a major disintegration event. In collaboration with the British Antarctic Survey, a team of 4 people will be deployed via Twin Otter for up to 4 weeks to a site with a broad view of the shelf and will install several temporary observing instruments there. The study derives its intellectual merit from the role of the Antarctic Peninsula as a microcosm of how other parts of Antarctica might evolve and de-glaciate in the next few centuries. The broader impacts include an opportunity to educate the public about the anticipated collapse of this remnant ice shelf and its relationship to future changes in Antarctica. The potential for wide media coverage (through a connection with the National Geographic) will underscore the critical changes scientists are observing in the crysophere driven by climate change. This proposal requires field work in Antarctica.
Antarctic clouds constitute an important parameter of the surface radiation budget and thus play a significant role in Antarctic climate and climate change. The variability in, and long term trends of, cloud optical and microphysical properties are therefore fundamental in parameterizing the mixed phase (water-snow-ice) coastal Antarctic stratiform clouds experienced around the continent.<br/><br/>Using a spectoradiometer that covers the wavelength range of 350 to 2200nm, the downwelled spectral irradiance at the earth surface (Ross Island) will be used to retrieve the optical depth, thermodynamic phase, liquid water droplet effective radius, and ice-cloud effective particle size of overhead clouds, at hourly intervals and for an austral summer season (Oct-March). Based on the very limited data sets that exist for the maritime Antarctic, expectations are that Ross Island (Lat 78 S) should exhibit clouds with:<br/>a) An abundance of supercooled liquid water, and related mixed-phase cloud processes<br/>b) Cloud nucleation from year round biogenic and oceanic sources, in an otherwise pristine environment<br/>c) Simple cloud geometries of predominantly stratiform cloud decks<br/><br/>Increased understanding of the cloud properties in the region of the main USAP base, McMurdo station is also relevant to operational weather forecasting relevant to aviation. A range of educational and outreach activities are associate with the project, including provision of workshops for high school teachers will be carried out.
Previous studies of the Indo-Pacific region of Antarctica show that the margin of the ice sheet in this region has advanced and retreated into deep interior basins many times in the past. The apparent instability of this region makes it an important target for study in terms of understanding the future of the East Antarctic ice sheet and sea level rise. This project will study a number of processes that control the ice-shelf stability of this region, with the aim of improving projections of the rate and magnitude of future sea-level rise. This project will engage a range of students and train this next generation of scientists in the complex, interdisciplinary issue of ice-ocean interaction. The project will integrate geophysical data collected from aircraft over three critical sections of the East Antarctic grounding line (Totten Glacier, Denman Glacier, and Cook Ice Shelf) with an advanced ocean model. Using Australian and French assets, the team will collect new data around Denman Glacier and Cook Ice Shelf whereas analysis of Totten Glacier will be based on existing data. The project will assess three hypotheses to isolate the processes that drive the differences in observed grounding line thinning among these three glaciers: 1. bathymetry and large-scale ocean forcing control cavity circulation; 2. ice-shelf draft and basal morphology control cavity circulation; 3. subglacial freshwater input across the grounding line controls cavity circulation. The key outcomes of this new project will be to: 1. evaluate of ice-ocean coupling in areas of significant potential sea-level contribution; 2. relate volume changes of grounded and floating ice to regional oceanic heat transport and sub-ice shelf ocean dynamics in areas of significant potential sea-level and meridional overturning circulation impacts; and 3. improve boundary conditions to evaluate mass, heat, and freshwater budgets of East Antarctica's continental margins.
The Antarctic Automatic Weather Station (AAWS) network, first commenced in 1978, is the most extensive ground meteorological network in the Antarctic, approaching its 30th year at several of its installations. Its prime focus as a long term observational record is to measure the near surface weather and climatology of the Antarctic atmosphere. AWS sites measure air-temperature, pressure, wind speed and direction at a nominal surface height of 3m. Other parameters such as relative humidity and snow accumulation may also be measured. Observational data from the AWS are collected via the DCS Argos system aboard either NOAA or MetOp polar orbiting satellites and thus made available in near real time to operational and synoptic weather forecasters. <br/><br/>The surface observations from the AAWS network are important records for recent climate change and meteorological processes. The surface observations from the AAWS network are also used operationally, and in the planning of field work. The surface observations from the AAWS network have been used to check on satellite and remote sensing observations.
Intellectual Merit: <br/>The MCM-SkyTEM project mapped resistivity in the McMurdo Dry Valleys and at Cape Barne on the Ross Island during the 2011-12 austral season using an airborne transient electromagnetic method. The SkyTEM system is mounted to a helicopter enabling a broad geophysical survey of subsurface resistivity structure over terrain that is inaccessible to traditional ground-based methods. Resistivity measurements obtained distinguish between highly resistive geologic materials such as glacier ice, bedrock and permafrost, and conductive materials such as unfrozen sediments or permafrost with liquid brine to depths of about 300 m. The PIs request funding to derive data products relevant to physical and chemical conditions in potential subsurface microbial habitats of the McMurdo Dry Valleys, similar cold regions on Earth and other planetary bodies. They will use these data products to characterize the hydrologic history of McMurdo Dry Valleys as well as the subsurface hydrologic connectivity in the region to investigate the implications for nutrient and microbial transport. The PIs will make these data products accessible to the research community. <br/><br/>Broader impacts: <br/>Polar microbial habitats are of high societal and scientific interest because they represent important testing grounds for the limits of life on Earth and other planetary bodies. Project deliverables will include teaching aids for undergraduate and graduate students. Two Ph.D. students will obtain advanced research training as part of this project. The PIs and students on this project will also engage in informal public outreach opportunities by presenting at local K-12 schools and reaching out to local media outlets on stories relating to SkyTEM research.
Project Summary<br/><br/>Intellectual Merit: <br/>The United States Polar Rock Repository (USPRR) was established to curate and loan geologic samples from polar regions to researchers and educators. OPP established the USPRR in part to avoid redundant sample collection and thus reduce the environmental impact of polar research. The USPRR also provides the research community with an important resource for developing new research projects. The USPRR acquires rock collections through donations from institutions and scientists and makes these samples available as no-cost loans for research, education and museum exhibits. Sample metadata is available in an on-line database. The database also includes rock property information, such as magnetic susceptibility and specific gravity, which are useful for geophysical studies. Researchers may request samples for analysis using an online request form. The USPRR fulfills several data management directives, including the Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research, Antarctic Data Management directive of providing free, full and open access to both metadata and the samples. The intellectual merit of the USPRR lies in the global dissemination of scientific information to researchers. <br/><br/>Broader impacts: <br/>The broader impacts of the USPRR include lessening environmental impacts resulting from redundant fieldwork in Polar Regions. The USPRR provides educational information about Antarctica via the website, by visiting the repository or borrowing a "USPRR rock box". Working at the repository provides students with opportunities to learn about the geology of Antarctica as well as doing research, learning new skills in digital imaging, curation and database management.
This award provides support for "Investigating (Un)Stable Sliding of Whillans Ice Stream and Subglacial Water Dynamics Using Borehole Seismology: A proposed Component of the Whillans Ice Stream Subglacial Access and Research Drilling" from the Antarctic Integrated Systems Science (AISS) program in the Office of Polar Programs at NSF. The project will use the sounds naturally produced by the ice and subglacial water to understand the glacial dynamics of the Whillans Ice Stream located adjacent to the Ross Ice Shelf in Antarctica.<br/><br/>Intellectual Merit: The transformative component of the project is that in addition to passive surface seismometers, the team will deploy a series of borehole seismometers. Englacial placement of the seismometers has not been done before, but is predicted to provide much better resolution (detection of smaller scale events as well as detection of a much wider range of frequencies) of the subglacial dynamics. In conjunction with the concurrent WISSARD (Whillans Ice Stream Subglacial Access and Research Drilling) project the team will be able to tie subglacial processes to temporal variations in ice stream dynamics and mass balance of the ice stream. The Whillans Ice Stream experiences large changes in ice velocity in response to tidally triggered stick-slip cycles as well as periodic filling and draining of subglacial Lake Whillans. The overall science goals include: improved understanding of basal sliding processes and role of sticky spots, subglacial lake hydrology, and dynamics of small earthquakes and seismic properties of ice and firn.<br/><br/>Broader Impact: Taken together, the research proposed here will provide information on basal controls of fast ice motion which has been recognized by the IPCC as necessary to make reliable predictions of future global sea-level rise. The information collected will therefore have broader implications for global society. The collected information will also be relevant to a better understanding of earthquakes. For outreach the project will work with the overall WISSARD outreach coordinator to deliver information to three audiences: the general public, middle school teachers, and middle school students. The project also provides funding for training of graduate students, and includes a female principal investigator.
This award supports a project to obtain the first set of isotopic-based provenance data from the WAIS divide ice core. A lack of data from the WAIS prevents even a basic knowledge of whether different sources of dust blew around the Pacific and Atlantic sectors of the southern latitudes. Precise isotopic measurements on dust in the new WAIS ice divide core are specifically warranted because the data will be synergistically integrated with other high frequency proxies, such as dust concentration and flux, and carbon dioxide, for example. Higher resolution proxies will bridge gaps between our observations on the same well-dated, well-preserved core. The intellectual merit of the project is that the proposed analyses will contribute to the WAIS Divide Project science themes. Whether an active driver or passive recorder, dust is one of the most important but least understood components of regional and global climate. Collaborative and expert discussion with dust-climate modelers will lead to an important progression in understanding of dust and past atmospheric circulation patterns and climate around the southern latitudes, and help to exclude unlikely air trajectories to the ice sheets. The project will provide data to help evaluate models that simulate the dust patterns and cycle and the relative importance of changes in the sources, air trajectories and transport processes, and deposition to the ice sheet under different climate states. The results will be of broad interest to a range of disciplines beyond those directly associated with the WAIS ice core project, including the paleoceanography and dust- paleoclimatology communities. The broader impacts of the project include infrastructure and professional development, as the proposed research will initiate collaborations between LDEO and other WAIS scientists and modelers with expertise in climate and dust. Most of the researchers are still in the early phase of their careers and hence the project will facilitate long-term relationships. This includes a graduate student from UMaine, an undergraduate student from Columbia University who will be involved in lab work, in addition to a LDEO Postdoctoral scientist, and possibly an additional student involved in the international project PIRE-ICETRICS. The proposed research will broaden the scientific outlooks of three PIs, who come to Antarctic ice core science from a variety of other terrestrial and marine geology perspectives. Outreach activities include interaction with the science writers of the Columbia's Earth Institute for news releases and associated blog websites, public speaking, and involvement in an arts/science initiative between New York City's arts and science communities to bridge the gap between scientific knowledge and public perception.
Intellectual Merit: <br/>Southern Ocean processes play an important role in Late Quaternary glacial-interglacial climate change. However, the direct influence of newly upwelled warm nutrient-rich Circumpolar Deep Water on the Antarctic cryosphere remains speculative. The PI proposes to test the hypothesis that Circumpolar Deep Water-derived ocean heat negatively impacts the mass-balance of Antarctica?s ice sheets during deglaciations using precisely dated late Quaternary paleoceanographic studies of Antarctic margin sediments and a suite of geochemical proxies measured on three existing glacial marine sediment cores from the Prydz Channel, Antarctica. Specifically, the PI will use these data to reconstruct the Late Quaternary history of the Lambert Glacier/Amery Ice Shelf system; evaluate the timing, speed, and style of retreat of the Lambert Glacier/Amery Ice Shelf system during the last deglaciation, and to assess the impact of Circumpolar Deep Water intrusions on the Lambert Glacier/Amery Ice Shelf system in the Late Quaternary. Diatom bound radiocarbon and optically stimulated luminescence techniques will be used to obtain precise stratigraphic age control for the Prydz Channel siliceous muddy ooze intervals. In addition, the PI will measure sedimentary 10Be concentrations to determine the origin of the siliceous muddy ooze units and to track past changes in the position of the ice shelf front.<br/><br/>Broader impacts: <br/>This proposal will support an early career female scientist and will provide professional development and research experiences for women/minority graduate and undergraduate students. The PI will take advantage of USF?s Oceanography Camp for Girls.
Intellectual Merit: <br/>Southern Ocean processes play an important role in Late Quaternary glacial-interglacial climate change. However, the direct influence of newly upwelled warm nutrient-rich Circumpolar Deep Water on the Antarctic cryosphere remains speculative. The PI proposes to test the hypothesis that Circumpolar Deep Water-derived ocean heat negatively impacts the mass-balance of Antarctica?s ice sheets during deglaciations using precisely dated late Quaternary paleoceanographic studies of Antarctic margin sediments and a suite of geochemical proxies measured on three existing glacial marine sediment cores from the Prydz Channel, Antarctica. Specifically, the PI will use these data to reconstruct the Late Quaternary history of the Lambert Glacier/Amery Ice Shelf system; evaluate the timing, speed, and style of retreat of the Lambert Glacier/Amery Ice Shelf system during the last deglaciation, and to assess the impact of Circumpolar Deep Water intrusions on the Lambert Glacier/Amery Ice Shelf system in the Late Quaternary. Diatom bound radiocarbon and optically stimulated luminescence techniques will be used to obtain precise stratigraphic age control for the Prydz Channel siliceous muddy ooze intervals. In addition, the PI will measure sedimentary 10Be concentrations to determine the origin of the siliceous muddy ooze units and to track past changes in the position of the ice shelf front.<br/><br/>Broader impacts: <br/>This proposal will support an early career female scientist and will provide professional development and research experiences for women/minority graduate and undergraduate students. The PI will take advantage of USF?s Oceanography Camp for Girls.
This award supports a project to reconstruct past ice-surface elevations from detailed glacial mapping and dating of moraines (using 14C dates of algae from former ice-marginal ponds and 10Be surface exposure ages) in the region of the Darwin-Hatherton Glaciers in Antarctica in order to try and resolve very different interpretations that currently exist about the glacial history in the region. The results will be integrated with existing climate and geophysical data into a flow-line model to gain insight into glacier response to climate and ice-dynamics perturbations during the Late Glacial Maximum (LGM) in Antarctica. The work will contribute to a better understanding of both LGM ice thickness and whether or not there is any evidence that Antarctica contributed to Meltwater Pulse (MWP)-1A a very controversial topic in Antarctic glacial geology. The intellectual merit of the work relates to the fact that reconstructing past fluctuations of the Antarctic Ice Sheet (AIS) is critical for understanding the sensitivity of ice volume to sea-level and climatic change. Constraints on past behavior help put ongoing changes into context and provide a basis for predicting future sea-level rise. Broader impacts include the support of two graduate and two undergraduate students, as well as a female early-career investigator. Graduate students will be involved in all stages of the project from planning and field mapping to geochronological analyses, interpretation, synthesis and reporting. Two undergraduates will work on lab-based research from the project. The project also will include visits to K-12 classrooms to talk about glaciers and climate change, correspondence with teachers and students from the field, and web-based outreach. This award has field work in Antarctica.
The investigators will map glacial deposits and date variations in glacier variability at several ice-free regions in northern Victoria Land, Antarctica. These data will constrain the nature and timing of past ice thickness changes for major glaciers that drain into the northwestern Ross Sea. This is important because during the Last Glacial Maximum (15,000 - 18,000 years ago) these glaciers were most likely flowing together with grounded ice from both the East and West Antarctic Ice Sheets that expanded across the Ross Sea continental shelf to near the present shelf edge. Thus, the thickness of these glaciers was most likely controlled in part by the extent and thickness of the Ross Sea ice sheet and ice shelf. The data the PIs propose to collect can provide constraints on the position of the grounding line in the western Ross Sea during the Last Glacial Maximum, the time that position was reached, and ice thickness changes that occurred after that time. The primary intellectual merit of this project will be to improve understanding of a period of Antarctic ice sheet history that is relatively unconstrained at present and also potentially important in understanding past ice sheet-sea level interactions. <br/><br/>This proposal will support an early career researcher's ongoing program of undergraduate education and research that is building a socio-economically diverse student body with students from backgrounds underrepresented in the geosciences. This proposal will also bring an early career researcher into Antarctic research.
Many of the natural processes that modify the landscape inhabited by humans occur over very long timescales, making them difficult to observe. Exceptions include rare catastrophic events such as earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, and floods that occur on short timescales. Many significant processes that affect the land and landscape that we inhabit operate on time scales imperceptible to humans. One of these processes is wind transport of sand, with related impacts to exposed rock surfaces and man-made objects, including buildings, windshields, solar panels and wind-farm turbine blades. The goal of this project is to gain an understanding of wind erosion processes over long timescales, in the Antarctic Dry Valleys, a cold desert environment where there were no competing processes (such as rain and vegetation) that might mask the effects. The main objective is recovery of rock samples that were deployed in 1983/1984 at 11 locations in the Antarctic Dry Valleys, along with measurements on the rock samples and characterization of the sites. In the late 1980s and early 1990s some of these samples were returned and indicated more time was needed to accumulate information about the timescales and impacts of the wind erosion processes. This project will allow collection of the remaining samples from this experiment after 30 to 31 years of exposure. The field work will be carried out during the 2014/15 Austral summer. The results will allow direct measurement of the abrasion rate and hence the volumes and timescales of sand transport; this will conclude the longest direct examination of such processes ever conducted. Appropriate scaling of the results may be applied to buildings, vegetation (crops), and other aspects of human presence in sandy and windy locations, in order to better determine the impact of these processes and possible mitigation of the impacts. The project is a collaborative effort between a small business, Malin Space Science Systems (MSSS), and the University of Washington (UW). MSSS will highlight this Antarctic research on its web site, by developing thematic presentations describing our research and providing a broad range of visual materials. The public will be engaged through daily updates on a website and through links to material prepared for viewing in Google Earth. UW students will be involved in the laboratory work and in the interpretation of the results.<br>Technical Description of Project:<br>The goal of this project is to study the role of wind abrasion by entrained particles in the evolution of the McMurdo Dry Valleys in the Transantarctic Mountains. During the 1983 to 1984 field seasons, over 5000 rock targets were installed at five heights facing the 4 cardinal directions at 10 locations (with an additional site containing fewer targets) to study rates of physical weathering due primarily to eolian abrasion. In addition, rock cubes and cylinders were deployed at each site to examine effects of chemical weathering. The initial examination of samples returned after 1, 5, and 10 years of exposure, showed average contemporary abrasion rates consistent with those determined by cosmogenic isotope studies, but further stress that "average" should not be interpreted as meaning "uniform." The samples will be characterized using mass measurements wtih 0.01 mg precision balances, digital microphotography to compare the evolution of their surface features and textures, SEM imaging to examine the micro textures of abraded rock surfaces, and optical microscopy of thin sections of a few samples to examine the consequences of particle impacts extending below the abraded surfaces. As much as 60-80% of the abrasion measured in samples from 1984-1994 appears to have occurred during a few brief hours in 1984. This is consistent with theoretical models that suggest abrasion scales as the 5th power of wind velocity. The field work will allow return of multiple samples after three decades of exposure, which will provide a statistical sampling (beyond what is acquired by studying a single sample), and will yield the mass loss data in light of complementary environmental and sand kinetic energy flux data from other sources (e.g. LTER meteorology stations). This study promises to improve insights into one of the principal active geomorphic process in the Dry Valleys, an important cold desert environment, and the solid empirical database will provide general constraints on eolian abrasion under natural conditions.
The biota of the world's seafloor is fueled by bursts of seasonal primary production. For food-limited sediment communities to persist, a balance must exist between metazoan consumption of and competition with bacteria, a balance which likely changes through the seasons. Polar marine ecosystems are ideal places to study such complex interactions due to stark seasonal shifts between heterotrophic and autotrophic communities, and temperatures that may limit microbial processing of organic matter. The research will test the following hypotheses: 1) heterotrophic bacteria compete with macrofauna for food; 2) as phytoplankton populations decline macrofauna increasingly consume microbial biomass to sustain their populations; and 3) in the absence of seasonal photosynthetic inputs, macrofaunal biodiversity will decrease unless supplied with microbially derived nutrition. Observational and empirical studies will test these hypotheses at McMurdo Station, Antarctica, where a high-abundance macro-infaunal community is adapted to this boom-and-bust cycle of productivity. The investigator will mentor undergraduates from a predominantly minority-serving institution, in the fields of invertebrate taxonomy and biogeochemistry. The general public and young scientists will be engaged through lectures at local K-12 venues and launch of an interactive website. The results will better inform scientists and managers about the effects of climate change on polar ecosystems and the mechanisms of changing productivity patterns on global biodiversity.
Paragraph for Laypersons:<br/>This research focuses on the history of rock glaciers and buried glacial ice in the McMurdo Dry Valleys region of Antarctica. Rock glaciers are flowing mixtures of ice and sediments common throughout alpine and high-latitude regions on Earth and Mars. Despite similar appearances, rock glaciers can form under highly variable environmental and hydrological conditions. The main research questions addressed here are: 1) what environmental and climatological conditions foster long-term preservation of rock glaciers in Antarctica, 2) what role do rock glaciers play in Antarctic landscape evolution and the local water cycle, and 3) what can rock glaciers reveal about the extent and timing of previous glacial advances? The project will involve two Antarctic field seasons to image the interior of Antarctic rock glaciers using ground-penetrating radar, to gather ice cores for chemical analyses, and to gather surface sediments for dating. The Dry Valleys host the world?s southernmost terrestrial ecosystem (soil, stream and lake micro-organisms and mosses); rock glaciers and ground-ice are an important and poorly-studied source of meltwater and nutrients for these ecosystems. This research will shed light on the glacial and hydrological history of the Dry Valleys region and the general environmental conditions the foster rock glaciers, features that generally occur in warmer and/or wetter locations. The research will provide support for five graduate/undergraduate students, who will actively gather data in the field, followed by interpretation, dissemination and presentation of the data. Additionally, the researchers will participate in a range of educational activities including outreach with local K-12 in the Lowell, MA region, such as summer workshops and classroom visits with hands-on activities. A series of time-lapse images of hydrological processes, and videos of researchers in the field, will serve as a dramatic centerpiece in community and school presentations.<br/><br/>Paragraph for Scientific Community:<br/>Rock glaciers are common in the McMurdo Dry Valleys, but are concentrated in a few isolated regions: western Taylor Valley, western Wright Valley, Pearse Valley and Bull Pass. The investigators hypothesize that the origin and age of these features varies by region: that rock glaciers in Pearse and Taylor valley originated as buried glacier ice, whereas rock glaciers in Wright Valley formed through permafrost processes, such as mobilization of ice-rich talus. To address these hypotheses, the project will: 1) develop relative and absolute chronologies for the rock glaciers through field mapping and optically stimulated luminescence dating of overlying sediments, 2) assess the origin of clean-ice cores through stable isotopic analyses, and 3) determine if present-day soil-moisture and temperature conditions are conducive to rock glacier formation/preservation. The proposed research will provide insight into the spatial and temporal distribution of buried glacier ice and melt-water-derived ground ice in the McMurdo Dry Valleys, with implications for glacial history, as well as the potential role of rock glaciers in the regional hydrologic cycle (and the role of ground-ice as a source for moisture and nutrient for local ecosystems). The project will provide general constraints on the climatic and hydrologic conditions that foster permafrost rock glaciers, features that generally occur under warmer and wetter conditions than those found in the present-day McMurdo Dry Valleys. The application of OSL and cosmogenic exposure<br/>dating is novel to rock glaciers, geomorphic features that have proven difficult to date, despite their ubiquity in Antarctica and their potential scientific importance. The research will provide support for five graduate/undergraduate students, who will participate in the field work, followed by interpretation, dissemination and presentation of the data. The researchers will participate in a range of educational activities including outreach with local K-12 in the Lowell, MA region, such as summer workshops and classroom visits with hands-on activities.
Many key questions in climate research (e.g. relative timing of climate events in different geographic areas, climate-forcing mechanisms, natural threshold levels in the climate system) are dependent on accurate reconstructions of the temporal and spatial distribution of past rapid climate change events in continental, atmospheric, marine and polar realms. This collaborative interdisciplinary research project aims to consolidate, into a single user-friendly database, information about volcanic products detected in Antarctica. By consolidating information about volcanic sources, and physical and geochemical characteristics of volcanic products, this systematic data collection approach will improve the ability of researchers to identify volcanic ash, or tephra, from specific volcanic eruptions that may be spread over large areas in a geologically instantaneous amount of time. Development of this database will assist in the identification and cross-correlation of time intervals in various paleoclimate archives that contain volcanic layers from often unknown sources. The AntT project relies on a cyberinfrastructure framework developed in house through NSF funded CDI-Type I: CiiWork for data assimilation, interpretation and open distribution model. In addition to collection and integration of existing information about volcanic products, this project will focus on filling the information gaps about unique physico-chemical characteristics of very fine (<3 micrometer) volcanic particles (cryptotephra) that are present in Antarctic ice cores. This component of research will involve improving analytical methodology for detecting cryptotephra layers in ice, and will train a new generation of scientists to apply an array of modern state?of?the-art instrumentation available to the project team. <br/><br/>The recognized importance of tephra in establishing a chronological framework for volcanic and sedimentary successions has already resulted in the development of robust regional tephrochronological frameworks (e.g. Europe, Kamchatka, New Zealand, Western North America). The AntT project will provide this framework for Antarctic tephrochronology, as needed for precise correlation records between Antarctic ice cores (e.g. WAIS Divide, RICE, ITASE) and global paleoclimate archives. The results of AntT will be of particular significance to climatologists, paleoclimatologists, atmospheric chemists, geochemists, climate modelers, solar-terrestrial physicists, environmental statisticians, and policy makers for designing solutions to mitigate or cope with likely future impacts of climate change events on modern society.
Intellectual Merit: <br/>This project will use sediment cores from the Victoria Land Basin (VLB), Antarctica, to study secondary (diagenetic) carbonate minerals, as indicators of the basin?s fluid-flow history, within the well-constrained tectonic, depositional, and climatic context provided by sediment cores. This study will provide insights into subsurface processes in Victoria Land Basin, Antarctica and their relationships with the region?s climatic, cryospheric, and tectonic history. The work will utilize cores previously recovered by US-sponsored stratigraphic drilling projects (CIROS, CRP, and ANDRILL projects). This work is motivated by the unexpected discovery of dense brine in the subsurface of Southern McMurdo Sound during drilling by the ANDRILL Southern McMurdo Sound project. The presence of the brine is intriguing because it contradicts previous models for the origin of subsurface fluids that called upon large contributions from glacial melt water. Project objectives involve documenting the distribution of the brine (and potentially other fluids) via characterization of diagenetic precipitates. The approach will involve integration of petrographic and geochemical data (including conventional carbon, oxygen, and ?clumped? isotopes) to fully characterize diagenetic phases and allow development of a robust paragenetic history. This work will provide novel insights into the Cenozoic evolution of the VLB and, more broadly, the role of glacial processes in generating subsurface fluids. <br/><br/>Broader impacts: <br/>Results from this project will help understand the origins of brines, groundwater and hydrocarbon reservoirs in analogous modern and ancient deposits elsewhere, which is of broad interest. This project will support the training of one graduate and one undergraduate student at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL) providing learning opportunities in sedimentary geology and diagenesis, fields with wide applicability. This proposal emphasizes rapid dissemination of results to the scientific community via conference presentations and contributions to peer-reviewed publications. The results will be integrated into education activities designed to develop skills in petrography and diagenesis, which are highly sought after in the energy sector. The project will generate a well-constrained dataset that allows direct linkage of diagenetic phases to environmental and tectonic change across a large sedimentary basin which will provide the basis for a comprehensive case study in an upper-level course (Sedimentary Petrography and Diagenesis) at UNL. In addition, online exercises will be developed and submitted to an open-access site (SEPM Stratigraphy Web) dedicated to sedimentary geology.
Ocean acidification (OA) poses a serious threat, particularly to organisms that precipitate calcium carbonate from seawater. One organism with an aragonite shell that is a key to high latitude ecosystems is the pteropod. With OA, the pteropod shell will thin because the aragonite is highly soluble. As the shell thins, it changes the mass distribution and buoyancy of the animal, which will affect locomotion and through it, all locomotion dependent behavior such as foraging, mating, predator avoidance and migratory patterns. A lower shell weight will be counterbalanced by a smaller mucus web potentially decreasing ingestion rates and carbon flux rates. This interdisciplinary research relies on biological studies of swimming behavior of the pteropod mollusk Limacina helicina in their natural environments with fluid mechanics analyses of swimming hydrodynamics via 3D tomographic particle-image velocimetry and computational fluid dynamics (CFD). This work will: (a) determine how the L. helicina uses its ?wings? (parapodia) to propel itself; (b) examine whether its locomotory kinematics provide efficient propulsion; (c) identify the factors that influence swimming trajectory and ?wobble?; and (d) synthesize all data and insights into guidelines for the potential use of pteropod swimming behavior as a bioassay for OA.<br/><br/>The loss of these sentinels of anthropogenic increases in CO2 may result in an ecological shift since thecosome pteropods are responsible for ingesting nearly half the primary production in the Southern Ocean and also serve as a primary food resource to upper trophic levels like fish. Since locomotory data can be gathered immediately, the bioassay being developed in this proposal may serve as an early warning of the impending onset of OA effects on this important member of the plankton. Students and researchers will collaborate in a rich interdisciplinary research environment by working with a biological oceanographer, a fluid mechanics expert and a CFD expert ? coupled with the teamsmanship needed for work in the Antarctic. By setting up a one-of-a-kind 3D tomography system for visualizing flow around planktonic organisms in Norway and at Palmer Station, we increase international exchange of state-of-the-art techniques. The educational impact of the current research will be multiplied by including in the research team, undergraduate students, high-school students and underrepresented minorities in addition to graduate students.