Collaborative Research: RAPID/Workshop - Antarctic Ecosystem Research following Ice Shelf Collapse and Iceberg Calving Events
Antarctic Ecosystem Research following Ice Shelf Collapse
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/ Further concrete products of the workshop: 1) a position-paper focusing on ideas, hypotheses and priorities for investigating the ecological impacts of ice-shelf collapse along the Antarctic Peninsula (Ingels et al., 2018; “The scientific response to Antarctic ice-shelf loss; Nature Climate Change 8, 848-851), and 2) a publication reviewing what is known and unknown about ecological responses to ice-shelf melt and collapse, outlining expected ecological outcomes of ice-shelf disintegration along the Antarctic Peninsula (Ingels et al., 2020; “Antarctic ecosystem responses following ice‐shelf collapse and iceberg calving: Science review and future research”, WIREs Climate Change, e682). The second publication was covered in the The Scientist and by a press-release in Germany, see https://www.altmetric.com/details/91826381. Other products included a poster presentation at the MEASO2018 conference in Hobart, Australia in 2018, and the above-mentioned visits to schools and institutes to talk about the research in invited seminars. We also conducted and active online outreach campaign, with dissemination of our work in various news outlets, blogs, and social media (e.g. reaching >750k total followers on twitter with the publications alone).'
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