2008-2009 Science Planning Summary
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2008-2009 Science Planning Summary Project Detail
Free drifting icebergs: Influence of floating islands on pelagic ecosystems in the Weddell Sea
Free drifting icebergs:  Influence of floating islands on pelagic ecosystems in the Weddell Sea - Click to view larger image.


Organisms & Ecosystems
Program Manager:
Dr. Roberta Marinelli


Adam Jenkins

Dr. Kenneth Smith (Principal Investigator)
National Science Foundation logo

Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute

Moss Landing, California

Dates in Antarctica:   Early March to mid-April

Supporting Stations:  RV/IB Nathaniel B. Palmer
Research Locations:  North Weddell Sea, South Orkney Islands

Project Description:
As drifting islands, icebergs impart unique physical, chemical, and biological characteristics to the surrounding water. The dimensions of this iceberg “sphere of influence” are related to the size and physical configuration of the iceberg. However, the precise impacts of icebergs on natural fertilization, organic carbon export, and the Antarctic pelagic community are not well understood. This project will attempt to determine 1) the physical dynamics of drifting icebergs; 2) the relationship between physical dynamics and the iron and nutrient distributions of the surrounding water; 3) the relationship between iron and nutrient distributions and the organic carbon production of ice-attached and surrounding pelagic communities; 4) the relationship between this organic carbon production and the export flux of particulate organic carbon from the surrounding mixed layer; and 5) the combined impact of all drifting icebergs on the enrichment, carbon production, and mixed-layer particulate export in the Weddell Sea.

The science party will embark on RVIB Nathaniel B. Palmer with 25 participants to measure the sphere of influence of both large and small icebergs in the north Weddell Sea and east of the South Orkney Islands. Each iceberg will be digitally imaged using shipboard acoustics, radar, and sonar, to estimate the aerial extent, submerged area and contours. The under-surface will then be surveyed acoustically and optically with a Remotely Operated Vehicle. The aerial and pelagic zones radiating out from the iceberg will be surveyed and sampled with ship-borne instruments in a spiral configuration.

Deploying Team Members:

  • Stephanie Bush
  • Adrian Cefarelli
  • Diane Chakos
  • Jacob Ellena
  • Steve Etchemendy
  • Danielle Garcia
  • John Helly (Co-PI)
  • Cole Hexel
  • Amanda Kahn
  • Ronald Kaufmann (Co-PI)
  • Hai Lin
  • Lawrence Lovell
  • Paul McGill
  • Kim Reisenbichler
  • Bruce Robison (Co-PI)
  • Tim Shaw (Co-PI)
  • Robert Sherlock
  • Alana Sherman
  • Karie Sines
  • Benjamin Twining (Co-PI)
  • Maria Vernet (Co-PI)

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