2013-2014 Science Planning Summaries
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Palmer Long Term Ecological Research (LTER): Looking back in time through marine ecosystem space, phytoplankton component

Program Manager:
Dr. Lisa Clough

Event Number: C-019-L/P

ASC POC/Implementer:
Samina Ouda / Jamee Johnson

Dr. Oscar Schofield (Principal Investigator)

Rutgers University
Institute for Marine & Coastal Sciences
New Brunswick, New Jersey

Supporting Stations:  ARSV Laurence M. Gould, Palmer Station
Research Locations:  LTER Study Site / Palmer Station

Project Description:
Project researchers seek to understand how changes in phytoplankton dynamics, such as an increase in fresh water due to melting ice, propagate through the ecosystem, ultimately affecting fish, seabirds, and marine mammals. Because photosynthesis is driven by sunlight, characterizing the quality and quantity of light available for use by phytoplankton is important. Researchers will deploy a wide range of sensors to measure these optical properties, which, in turn, will help understand the underlying role of light variability in phytoplankton dynamics. In addition to their role at the base of the marine ecosystem, the fate of phytoplankton biomass is important to understanding climate-change feedback. By conducting experiments to study phytoplankton physiology, researchers hope to develop a clear picture of the fate of phytoplankton biomass once it enters the Antarctic ecosystem.

Field Season Overview:
Field team members will (1) Maintain the phytoplankton Palmer time series measurements at LTER stations B and E. The time series consists of water collection for HPLC, 14C productivities, and chlorophyll a measurements. These measurements are complemented with a full array of multi- and hypersectral optical measurements. Efforts will focus on resolving both the apparent and inherent optical properties. The optics will be complemented by CTD measurements; (2) Expand glider operations to fly four gliders: One FIRe glider, one ADCP glider, and a backscatter glider. These gliders are 200-meter vessel class. One deep 1000-meter glider will be launched and flown to Rothera base; (3) Work with Debbie Steinberg's LTER team, to calibrate the glider ADCP instruments using live zooplankton (krill, salps, etc.) maintained at Palmer Project participants will also sail onboard the annual 28-day LTER cruise onboard the Laurence M. Gould (LMG) from January 1 to February 15th. Vessel-based activities include collecting samples by trawling, conducting multiple CTD casts, deploying gliders and servicing five physical oceanographic moorings. A sediment trap mooring will be recovered and re-deployed at the LTER site near Hugo Island. Three- to five-day field camps will take place on Avian and Charcot Islands. Zodiac support is required for deploying to these field sites, as time and ice conditions permit. During the time at process stations, Zodiac support will be allocated for glider operations and to deploy satellite tags on baleen whales, collect biopsy samples, and individual photo-ID data. Two fully-equipped radioisotope vans will be used for C14 and for 3H (tritium).

Deploying Team Members:

  • Nicole Couto
  • Travis Miles
  • Oscar Schofield (PI)
  • Philip Sontag

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