2023-2024 Science Planning Summary
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2023-2024 USAP Field Season
Project Detail

Project Title

Antarctica as a model system for responses of terrestrial carbon balance to warming


The Nathaniel B. Palmer Research Vessel at Palmer Station. Photo by Marissa Goerke, courtesy of the NSF/USAP Photo Library
B-086-P Research Location(s): Palmer Station Backyard and Litchfield Island

Summary

Event Number:
B-086-P
NSF / OPP Award 1947562

Program Director:
Dr. Rebecca Gast

ASC POC/Implementer:
Matthew Erickson / Jamee Johnson


Principal Investigator(s)

Dr. Natasja van Gestel
natasja.van-gestel@ttu.edu
Texas Tech University

Project Web Site:
https://www.nvangestel.com/antarctica


Location

Supporting Stations: Palmer Station
Research Locations: Palmer Station Backyard and Litchfield Island


Description

This study will investigate carbon transformation processes and the microbial communities that are responsible for such transformations in soils of the Antarctic Peninsula. Researchers will examine net ecosystem carbon balance among soils with different exposure ages that have been uncovered by retreating glaciers. Researchers will identify individual members of the soil microbial community that are active versus those that are not active. This will create a better understanding of the fundamental processes of community succession in the Antarctic environment and whether continued warming could lead to community shifts in the active portion of the communities. The overarching objective of this project is to link warming-induced shifts in ecosystem carbon balance in Antarctic terrestrial ecosystems to plant and microbial responses to warming. Specific goals are to determine 1) how carbon balance shifts in response to warming along a plant productivity gradient; 2) whether a shift in this balance is related to stronger responses in carbon update or losses; and 3) the mechanisms responsible for these responses.


Field Season Overview

The overarching objective of these four field-season projects is to link warming-induced shifts in ecosystem carbon balance in Antarctic terrestrial ecosystems to plant and microbial responses to warming. Specific goals are to determine 1) how carbon balance shifts in response to warming along a plant productivity gradient; 2) whether a shift in this balance is related to stronger responses in carbon update or losses; and 3) the mechanisms responsible for these responses. No grantees will be deploying to Palmer Station during the 2023-24 season. Palmer Laboratory staff will assist with environmental chamber and logger maintenance throughout the summer season. The Lab Manager will set up 20 environmental chambers in the field, marking each as “warmed” or “controlled." Dataloggers have overwintered in place from the previous season. The Lab manager will replace batteries and download data throughout the season. At the end of the season, the lab manager will prepare the plots for overwintering and report environmental data back to the grantee.