Project Information
Collaborative Research: Seasonal Evolution of Chemical and Biological Variability in the Ross Sea

This award is funded under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (Public Law 111-5).

The Ross Sea is a highly productive area within the Southern Ocean, but it experiences substantial variability in both physical (temperature, ice concentrations, salinity, winds, and current velocities) and biogeochemical (chlorophyll, productivity, micronutrients, higher trophic level standing stocks, gases, etc.) conditions. Understanding the temporal and spatial oceanographic variations in physical forcing is essential to understanding the ecological functioning within the Ross Sea. There are a number of models of the physical oceanography of the Ross Sea that characterize the observed circulation. Unfortunately, data on the appropriate time scales (daily, monthly, seasonal, and interannual) to completely evaluate those models are lacking. The proposed research is a demonstration project to characterize the physical and biological oceanography of the southern Ross Sea using newly developed Glider technology to sample the region continuously through the growing season, to collect temperature, salinity, fluorescence, oxygen and optical transmission data. These field data will be used to assist in evaluation of an eddy-resolving ROMS-based coupled circulation-biological model, and, along with satellite ocean color information, will be assimilated into an ecosystem model. Data assimilation techniques will reduce the model uncertainties of the circulation and food webs of the region. The intellectual merit of this effort arises from the combination of field-based investigations using a novel technology (one that is far more cost-effective than ship-based studies) with state-of-the-art biological-physical models and advanced data assimilation techniques. The research will provide new insights into the complex oceanographic phenomena of the Antarctic continental shelves and is a novel method of continuing the studies of the southern Ross Sea. Broader impacts of the proposed research include training of graduate and undergraduate students and partnership with several ongoing outreach programs dealing with scientific research in the Southern Ocean. At least 2 graduate students will be supported by this research, and it will be a critical component of a variety of outreach programs in Virginia, including a High School Marine Science Day, Boy and Girl Scout education, and middle school curriculum improvement. The investigators also will create a web site to foster immediate release of the data collected by the glider, and seek a linkage with schools at various levels (middle, high school and Universities) that potentially could incorporate the data into classroom activities
Person Role
Hofmann, Eileen Investigator
Dinniman, Michael Co-Investigator
Klinck, John M. Co-Investigator
Antarctic Organisms and Ecosystems Award # 0838948
AMD - DIF Record(s)
Data Management Plan
None in the Database
Product Level:
Not provided
  1. Smith, W. O., Dinniman, M. S., Hofmann, E. E., & Klinck, J. M. (2014). The effects of changing winds and temperatures on the oceanography of the Ross Sea in the 21st century. Geophysical Research Letters, 41(5), 1624–1631. (doi:10.1002/2014gl059311)
  2. Stern, A. A., Dinniman, M. S., Zagorodnov, V., Tyler, S. W., & Holland, D. M. (2013). Intrusion of warm surface water beneath the McMurdo Ice Shelf, Antarctica. Journal of Geophysical Research: Oceans, 118(12), 7036–7048. (doi:10.1002/2013jc008842)
Platforms and Instruments

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