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.
The research combines interdisciplinary study in geology, paleontology, and biology, using stable isotope and radiocarbon analyses, to examine how climate change and resource utilization have influenced population distribution, movement, and diet in penguins during the mid-to-late Holocene. Previous investigations have demonstrated that abandoned colonies contain well-preserved remains that can be used to examine differential responses of penguins to climate change in various sectors of Antarctica. As such, the research team will investigate abandoned and active pygoscelid penguin (Adelie, Chinstrap, and Gentoo) colonies in the Antarctic Peninsula and Ross Sea regions, and possibly Prydz Bay, in collaboration with Chinese scientists during four field seasons. Stable isotope analyses will be conducted on recovered penguin tissues and prey remains in guano to address hypotheses on penguin occupation history, population movement, and diet in relation to climate change since the late Pleistocene. The study will include one Ph.D., two Masters and 16 undergraduate students in advanced research over the project period. Students will be exposed to a variety of fields, the scientific method, and international scientific research. They will complete field and lab research for individual projects or Honor's theses for academic credit. The project also will include web-based outreach, lectures to middle school students, and the development of interactive exercises that highlight hypothesis-driven research and the ecology of Antarctica. Two undergraduate students in French and Spanish languages at UNCW will be hired to assist in translating the Web page postings for broader access to this information.
Intellectual Merit: The Diapycnal and Isopycnal Mixing Experiment in the Southern Ocean (DIMES) is a study of ocean mixing in the Antarctic Circumpolar Current (ACC) which runs west to east all around the continent of Antarctica, south of the other continents. This current system is somewhat of a barrier to transport of heat, carbon dioxide and other important ocean constituents between the far south and the rest of the ocean, and mixing processes play an important role in those transports. DIMES is a multi-investigator cooperative project, led by physical oceanographers in the U.S. and in the U.K. A passive tracer and an array of sub-surface floats were deployed early in 2009 more than 2000 km west of Drake Passage on a surface of constant density about 1500 m deep between the Sub Antarctic Front and the Polar Front of the ACC. In early 2010 a U.S. led research cruise sampled the tracer, turbulence levels, and the velocity and density profiles that govern the generation of that turbulence, and additional U.K. led research cruises in 2011 and 2012 continue this sampling as the tracer has made its way through Drake Passage, into the Scotia Sea, and over the North Scotia Ridge, a track of more than 3000 km. The initial results show that diapycnal, i.e., vertical, mixing west of Drake Passage where the bottom is relatively smooth is no larger than in most other regions of the open ocean. In contrast, there are strong velocity shears and intense turbulence levels over the rough topography in Drake Passage and diapycnal diffusivity of the tracer more than 10 times larger in Drake Passage and to the east than west of Drake Passage.<br/><br/>The DIMES field program continues with the U.S. team collecting new velocity and turbulence data in the Scotia Sea. It is anticipated that the tracer will continue passing through the Scotia Sea until at least early 2014. The U.K. partners have scheduled sampling of the tracer on cruises at the North Scotia Ridge and in the eastern and central Scotia Sea in early 2013 and early 2014. The current project will continue the time series of the tracer at Drake Passage on two more U.S. led cruises, in late 2012 and late 2013. Trajectories through the Scotia Sea estimated from the tracer observations, from neutrally buoyant floats, and from numerical models will be used to accurately estimate mixing rates of the tracer and to locate where the mixing is concentrated. During the 2013 cruise the velocity and turbulence fields along high-resolution transects along the ACC and across the ridges of Drake Passage will be measured to see how far downstream of the ridges the mixing is enhanced, and to test the hypothesis that mixing is enhanced by breaking lee waves generated by flow over the rough topography.<br/><br/>Broader Impacts: DIMES (see web site at http://dimes.ucsd.edu) involves many graduate students and post-doctoral researchers. Two graduate students, who would become expert in ocean turbulence and the processes generating it, will continue be trained on this project. The work in DIMES is ultimately motivated by the need to understand the overturning circulation of the global ocean. This circulation governs the transport and storage of heat and carbon dioxide within the huge oceanic reservoir, and thus plays a major role in regulating the earth?s climate. Understanding the circulation and how it changes in reaction to external forces is necessary to the understanding of past climate change and of how climate might change in the future, and is therefore of great importance to human well-being. The data collected and analyzed by the DIMES project will be assembled and made publicly available at the end of the project.<br/><br/>The DIMES project is a process experiment sponsored by the U.S. CLIVAR (Climate variability and predictability) program.
The ocean plays a critical role in sequestering CO2 by exporting fixed carbon to the deep ocean through the biological pump. There is a pressing need to understand the systematics of carbon export in the Southern Ocean in the context of global warming because of the sensitivity of this region to climate change, already manifested as significant temperature increases. Numerous studies have indicated that Fe supply is a primary control on phytoplankton biomass and productivity in the Southern Ocean. The results from previous cruises in Feb-Mar 2004 and Jul-Aug 2006 have revealed the major natural Fe fertilization from Fe-rich shelf waters to the Fe-limited high nutrient low chlorophyll (HNLC) Antarctic Circumpolar Current Surface Water (ASW) in the southern Drake Passage, producing a series of phytoplankton blooms. Remaining questions include: How is natural Fe transported to the euphotic zone through small-meso-large scale horizontal-vertical transport and mixing in different HNLC ACC areas? How does plankton community structure evolve in response to a natural Fe addition, how does Fe speciation respond to biogeochemical processes, and how is Fe recycled to determine the longevity of phytoplankton blooms? How does the export of POC evolve as a function of upwelling-mixing, Fe addition-recycling and bacteria-plankton structure? This synthesis proposal will address these fundamental questions using a unique dataset combining multiyear physical, Fe and biogeochemical data collected between 2004 and 2006 from 2 NSF-funded Fe fertilization experiment cruises and 3 Antarctic Marine Living Resource (AMLR) cruises in the southern Drake Passage and southwestern Scotia Sea through collaboration with scientists in the AMLR program and US Southern Ocean GLOBEC projects. All investigators involved in this study are engaged in graduate and undergraduate instruction, and mentoring of postdoctoral researchers. Each P.I. will incorporate key elements of the proposed syntheses in our lectures, problem sets and group projects. The project includes support to convene a 4-5 day international workshop on natural Fe fertilization at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. The workshop will include scientists from United Kingdom, France and Germany who have conducted natural Fe fertilization experiments, and Korea and China who are planning to conduct natural Fe fertilization experiments. The participation of graduate students and postdoctoral scholars will be especially encouraged. The results will be published in a Deep-Sea Research II special issue.
9528807 Gordon The proposed project is part of a multi-institutional integrated study of the outflow of newly formed bottom water from the Weddell Sea and its dispersion into the South Atlantic Ocean. It builds upon earlier successful studies of the inflow of intermediate water masses into the Eastern Weddell Sea, their modification within the Weddell Gyre, and their interaction with bottom water formation processes in the western Weddell Sea. The study is called Deep Ocean Ventilation Through Antarctic Intermediate Layers (DOVETAIL) and includes six components involving hydrographic measurements, natural tracer experiments, and modeling studies. The study will be centered east of the Drake Passage where water masses from the Weddell Sea and the Scotia Sea come together in the Weddell-Scotia Confluence, and will be carried out in cooperation with the national antarctic programs of Germany and Spain. This particular component concerns observations of the temperature and salinity structure, as well as the chemical nature of the water column in the confluence region. The study has four related objectives. The first is to assess the quantity and the physical and chemical characteristics of Weddell Sea source waters for the confluence. The second is to describe the dominant processes associated with spreading and sinking of dense antarctic waters within the Weddell-Scotia Confluence. The third is to estimate the ventilation rate of the world ocean, and the fourth is to estimate seasonal fluctuations in the regional ocean transport and hydrographic structure and to assess the likely influence of seasonal to interannual variability on rates of ventilation by Weddell Sea waters. Ventilation of the deep ocean -- the rising of sub-surface water masses to the surface to be recharged with atmospheric gases and to give up heat to the atmosphere -- is a uniquely antarctic phenomenon that has significant consequences for global change by affecting the g lobal reservoir of carbon dioxide, and by modulating the amount and extent of seasonal sea ice in the southern hemisphere. This component will make systematic observations of the temperature salinity structure of the water and undertake an extensive sampling program for other chemical studies. The purpose is to identify the individual water masses and to relate their temperature and salinity characteristics to the modification processes within the Weddell Sea. ***
This award supports a marine geophysical investigation of the Bransfield Strait and the Shackleton Fracture Zone and environs in the Scotia Sea in an effort to understand the neotectonic evolution of the region. Multibeam swath mapping and sidescan sonar mapping will be used along with multichannel seismic imaging. The main goal of this proposal is to collect multibeam and sidescan sonar data to map the structural character and tectonic fabric of the evolving plate boundary in Southwest Scotia Sea, Shackleton Fracture Zone, and Bransfield Strait. Follow up multichannel seismic surveys will be done in the Southwest Scotia Sea. The secondary goal is to use sidescan sonar reflectivity images to generate detailed structural maps of the seafloor of these regions and to integrate the new data with existing seismic reflection, Geosat gravity, Hydrosweep and Seabeam bathymetric data. Once the base maps are produced they can be used by other researchers to help interpret multichannel and single channel seismic reflection records. The neotectonic evolution of the Antarctic Peninsula and Scotia Sea is extremely complex. Understanding the recent evolution of the Drake-Scotia-Antarctic-South America plate intersections will provide important information as to how major plate boundaries reorganize after demise of a long-lived spreading center and the consequential reduction in the number of plates. The plate reorganization probably resulted in the uplift of the Shackleton Ridge which may have effected the sedimentary patterns in both the Scotia Sea and possibly the Weddell Sea. If the break of the Shackleton transform fault can be traced with multibeam and sidescan sonar as it intersects the southern end of South America then the orientation and geometry of the faults, fractures and deformation as the transform fault intersects the South American continent will help to interpret the structures in that complex region. Bransfield Strait is presently undergoing extensi on based on high heat flow, active volcanoes and inferences from seismic reflection work. Seismic refraction indicates thick crust similar to the East African Rift or passive volcanic margins of continents. In contrast, analysis of isotopes and rare earth elements of the recent volcanics shows seemingly no continental contamination. The active extension in Bransfield Strait must be related to the plate reorganization but it is unclear exactly what tectonic processes are occurring. Besides elucidating the tectonic fabric of Bransfield Strait, the multibeam and sidescan sonar survey will identify potential dredge targets and DSRV Alvin dive sites.
The Shackleton Fracture Zone (SFZ) in Drake Passage of the Southern Ocean defines a boundary between low and high phytoplankton waters. Low chlorophyll water flowing through the southern Drake Passage emerges as high chlorophyll water to the east, and recent evidence indicates that the Southern Antarctic Circumpolar Current Front (SACCF) is steered south of the SFZ onto the Antarctic Peninsula shelf where mixing between the water types occurs. The mixed water is then advected off-shelf with elevated iron and phytoplankton biomass. The SFZ is therefore an ideal natural laboratory to improve the understanding of plankton community responses to natural iron fertilization, and how these processes influence export of organic carbon to the ocean interior. The bathymetry of the region is hypothesized to influence mesoscale circulation and transport of iron, leading to the observed patterns in phytoplankton biomass. The position of the Antarctic Circumpolar Current (ACC) is further hypothesized to influence the magnitude of the flow of ACC water onto the peninsula shelf, mediating the amount of iron transported into the Scotia Sea. To address these hypotheses, a research cruise will be conducted near the SFZ and to the east in the southern Scotia Sea. A mesoscale station grid for vertical profiles, water sampling, and bottle incubation enrichment experiments will complement rapid surface surveys of chemical, plankton, and hydrographic properties. Distributions of manganese, aluminum and radium isotopes will be determined to trace iron sources and estimate mixing rates. Phytoplankton and bacterial physiological states (including responses to iron enrichment) and the structure of the plankton communities will be studied. The primary goal is to better understand how plankton productivity, community structure and export production in the Southern Ocean are affected by the coupling between bathymetry, mesoscale circulation, and distributions of limiting nutrients. The proposed work represents an interdisciplinary approach to address the fundamental physical, chemical and biological processes that contribute to the abrupt transition in chl-a which occurs near the SFZ. Given recent indications that the Southern Ocean is warming, it is important to advance the understanding of conditions that regulate the present ecosystem structure in order to predict the effects of climate variability. This project will promote training and learning across a broad spectrum of groups. Funds are included to support postdocs, graduate students, and undergraduates. In addition, this project will contribute to the development of content for the Polar Science Station website, which has been a resource since 2001 for instructors and students in adult education, home schooling, tribal schools, corrections education, family literacy programs, and the general public.
This award, provided by the Antarctic Geology and Geophysics Program of the Office of Polar Programs, provides funds and field support to continue a study of plate motions in the Antarctic Peninsula and Scotia Sea region. The principal aim of the original "Scotia Arc GPS Project (SCARP)" was to determine motions of the Scotia Plate relative to adjacent plates and to measure crustal deformation along its margins with special attention to the South Sandwich microplate and Bransfield Strait extension. The focus of the present proposal is confined to the part of the SCARP project that includes GPS sites at Elephant Island, the South Shetland Islands and on the Antarctic Peninsula. The British Antarctic Survey provides data from two sites on the Scotia arc for this project. The northern margin of the Scotia Plate is not included herein because that region is not covered under Polar Programs. A separate proposal will request support for re-measuring SCARP GPS stations in South America. With regard to the Antarctic Peninsula area, continuously operating GPS stations were established at Frei Base, King George Island (in 1996) and at the Argentine Base, South Orkney Islands (in 1998). A number of monumented sites were established in the Antarctic Peninsula region in 1997 to support campaign-style GPS work in December 1997 and December 1998. Because of the expected slow crustal motion in the Bransfield Strait and expiration of the initial grant, no further data collection will be done until enough time has passed so that new measurements can be expected to yield precise results.<br/><br/>The primary aim of this work is to complete the measurements required to quantify crustal deformation related to opening of the Bransfield Strait, the South Shetland microplate, and to identify any other independent tectonic blocks that the GPS data may reveal. The measurements to be completed under this award will be done using ship support during the 2002-2003 season. This would be five years after the first measurements and would provide quite precise horizontal velocities. This project will complete the acquisition, processing, and interpretation of a single data set to continue this initial phase of the NSF-funded project to measure crustal motions along the southern margin of the Scotia plate. A principal investigator and one graduate student from the University of Texas will perform fieldwork. A graduate student from the University of Hawaii will process the new data consistent with previous data, and all of the SCARP investigators (Bevis, Dalziel, Smalley, Taylor: from U. Texas, U. Hawaii, and U. Memphis) will participate in interpreting the data. The British Antarctic Survey (BAS) and Alfred Wegener Institute (AWI) also recognized the importance of the Scotia plate and the Bransfield system in both global and local plate tectonic frameworks. They, too, have used GPS to measure crustal motions in this region and duplicate a number of our sites. They began earlier than we, have taken data more recently, presumably will continue taking data, and they have published some results. The collaboration between SCARP, BAS, and AWI begun earlier, will continue into this new work. Joint and separate publications are anticipated. The existing SCARP network has several advantages that justify collection and analysis of another set of data. One is that SCARP has established and measured GPS sites on Smith, Low, and Livingston Islands, where other groups have not. These sites significantly extend the dimensions of the South Shetland microplate so that we can determine a more precise pole of rotation and recognize any sub-blocks within the South Shetland arc. Smith and Low Islands are near the end of the Bransfield Basin where relative motion between the South Shetland Microplate must somehow terminate, perhaps by faulting along an extension of the Hero fracture zone. Another advantage is that measurements under SCARP were made using fixed-height masts that eliminate all but a fraction of a millimeter of vertical error in exactly re-occupying each site. Vertical motion associated with postglacial rebound should be on the order of several mm/yr, which will eventually be measurable. Mid-Holocene shorelines that emerged to more than 20m on some South Shetland arc islands suggest that vertical motion is significant. Thus, this work will contribute to understanding both plate motions and post-glacial rebound from ice mass loss in the region.
This project studies the opening of the Drake Passage between South America and Antarctica through a combined marine geophysical survey and geochemical study of dredged ocean floor basalts. Dating the passage's opening is key to understanding the formation of the circum-Antarctic current, which plays a major role in worldwide ocean circulation, and whose formation is connected with growth of the Antarctic ice sheet. Dredge samples will undergo various geochemical studies to determine their age and constrain mantle flow beneath the region. <br/><br/>Broader impacts include support for graduate education, as well as undergraduate and K12 teacher involvement in a research cruise. The project also involves international collaboration with the UK and is part of IPY Project #77: Plates&Gates, which aims to reconstruct the geologic history of polar ocean basins and gateways for computer simulations of climate change. See http://www.ipy.org/index.php?/ipy/detail/plates_gates/ for more information.