Using Radiochemical Data from Collapsed Ice Shelf Sediments to Understand the Nature and Timing of the Benthic Response to High-Latitude Climate Change
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.
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