2017-2018 Science Planning Summaries
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2017-2018 USAP Field Season
Project Detail

Project Title

Production and fate of oxylipins in waters of the Western Antarctic Peninsula: Linkages between UV radiation, lipid peroxidation, and carbon cycling

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Event Number:

Program Manager:
Dr. Jennifer Burns / Dr. Christian Fritsen

ASC POC/Implementer:
Rachel Shackelford / Jamee Johnson

Principal Investigator

Dr. Benjamin Van Mooy

Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution
Marine Chemistry & Geochemistry
Woods Hole, Massachusetts


Supporting Stations: Palmer Station
Research Locations: On station / Arthur Harbor


Ozone depletion over Antarctica leads to high levels of ultraviolet radiation (UVR) from the sun reaching the ocean's surface. This is predicted to continue for the next half century, despite bans on ozone-destroying pollutants. Phytoplankton in the near-surface ocean are subjected to variable amounts of UVR and contain a lot of lipids. Because phytoplankton are at the base of the food chain, the lipids make their way into the Antarctic marine ecosystem's food web. The molecular structures of phytoplankton lipids are easily altered by UVR. When this happens, the lipids can be transformed from healthy into potentially harmful molecules known to be disruptive to reproduction and development. This project will answer questions about the extent to which UVR damages lipid molecules and how the resultant molecules might affect the Southern-Ocean food chain.

Field Season Overview

Participants will collect samples for laboratory and field experiments to assess the origin of environmental oxylipins, and to expose diatoms to UVR in order to stimulate oxylipin production. The team will use seawater pumped from Arthur Harbor into the laboratory. They will also conduct plankton tows and water column sampling in Arthur Harbor by small boat.

Deploying Team Members

  • Kevin Becker
  • James Collins