ASPIRE: Amundsen Sea Polynya International Research Expedition
ASPIRE is an NSF-funded project that will examine the ecology of the Amundsen Sea during the Austral summer of 2010. ASPIRE includes an international team of trace metal and carbon chemists, phytoplankton physiologists, microbial and zooplankton ecologists, and physical oceanographers, that will investigate why and how the Amundsen Sea Polynya is so much more productive than other polynyas and whether interannual variability can provide insight to climate-sensitive mechanisms driving carbon fluxes. This project will compliment the existing ASPIRE effort by using 1) experimental manipulations to understand photoacclimation of the dominant phytoplankton taxa under conditions of varying light and trace metal abundance, 2) nutrient addition bioassays to determine the importance of trace metal versus nitrogen limitation of phytoplankton growth, and 3) a numerical ecosystem model to understand the importance of differences in mixing regime, flow field, and Fe sources in controlling phytoplankton bloom dynamics and community composition in this unusually productive polynya system. The research strategy will integrate satellite remote sensing, field-based experimental manipulations, and numerical modeling. Outreach and education include participation in Stanford's Summer Program for Professional Development for Science Teachers, Stanford's School of Earth Sciences high school internship program, and development of curriculum for local science training centers, including the Chabot Space and Science Center. Undergraduate participation and training will include support for both graduate students and undergraduate assistants.
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