Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Scientists call for a new strategy for polar ocean observation

Date:
June 21, 2010
Source:
Marine Biological Laboratory
Summary:
A team of oceanographers has outlined a polar ocean observation strategy they say will revolutionize scientists' understanding of marine ecosystem response to climate change. The approach, which calls for the use of a suite of automated technologies that complement traditional data collection, could serve as a model for marine ecosystems worldwide and help form the foundation for a comprehensive polar ocean observation system.

A Rutgers/Webb SLOCUM glider is deployed from a Zodiac near Palmer Station Antarctica. Automated glider robots can measure ocean characteristics continuously for weeks at a time.
Credit: Jason Orfanon

In a report published in Science, a team of oceanographers, including MBL (Marine Biological Laboratory) Ecosystems Center director Hugh Ducklow, outline a polar ocean observation strategy they say will revolutionize scientists' understanding of marine ecosystem response to climate change. The approach, which calls for the use of a suite of automated technologies that complement traditional data collection, could serve as a model for marine ecosystems worldwide and help form the foundation for a comprehensive polar ocean observation system.

The complexity of marine food webs and the "chronic under-sampling" of the world's oceans present major constraints to predicting the future of and optimally managing and protecting marine resources. "We know more about Venus than we do about the Earth's oceans," says Ducklow. "We need an ocean observation system analogous to meteorological monitoring for weather forecasting, but it's harder to do in the ocean."

In polar oceans in particular, including the Western Antarctic Peninsula (WAP) where Ducklow and his colleagues conduct research as part of the NSF's Long-Term Ecological Research project at Palmer Station, high operation costs and harsh conditions restrict the coverage provided by research ships, where much of the data on this ecosystem is collected. To overcome these hurdles, oceanographers around the world have been developing technologies to complement traditional data collection by research ships. The coordinated use of these technologies will enable sustained observations throughout the year in the polar oceans and could form the foundation for a comprehensive observation strategy the team says.

In their report the scientists, led by Oscar Schofield of Rutgers University, describe a multi-platform approach to ocean observation, where data is collected by a host of automated sources including glider robots that measure ocean characteristics continuously for weeks at a time and tourist vessels, ferries, and other "ships of opportunity" outfitted with chemical and biological sensors. The authors also encourage the deployment of oceanographic instruments on animals such as elephant seals and penguins to provide information on animal behavior and oceanographic conditions. Recent tagging of Adιlie penguins nesting near Palmer Station has helped scientists understand the link between nutrient upwelling and penguin foraging.

"We're looking for ways to use our existing capabilities to obtain data," says Ducklow. "Our goal is to make things cheaper and get a lot of them out there. This will help to narrow down uncertainty about the effects of warming on the polar oceans in the coming decades to century."

The team says the WAP is an ideal location for monitoring the impacts of rapid climate change on marine ecosystems and could serve as a model observation system for marine ecosystems worldwide. The rapid climate change in this region is driving large-scale changes in the food web, impacting everything from phytoplankton -- the foundation of the food web -- to Antarctic krill, to apex predators such as penguins, whales, and seals.

"The comprehensive deployment of these observational systems will revolutionize our understanding of how marine ecosystems are responding to climate change everywhere, not just in Antarctica," says Ducklow. "With current observation methods, the data you collect, whether it's from land or from a research vessel, is limited to access by people. Where we are only getting dozens of measurements a year from data collected by people, you could get hundreds or thousands each day with the use of automated technologies."

This paper stems from work done as part of the National Science Foundation Office of Polar Program's Long-Term Ecological Research (LTER) project at Palmer Station, Antarctica. Hugh Ducklow is the principal investigator of the Palmer LTER. Besides Ducklow and Schofield, the paper's co-authors are Douglas Martinson, Columbia University's Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory; Michael Meredith, British Antarctic Survey; Mark Moline, California Polytechnic State University; and William Fraser, Polar Oceans Research Group, Sheridan, MT.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Marine Biological Laboratory. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. O. Schofield, H.W. Ducklow, D.G. Martinson, M.P. Meredith, M.A. Moline, W.R. Fraser. How Do Polar Marine Ecosystems Respond to Rapid Climate Change? Science, 2010; 328: 1520-1523 DOI: 10.1126/science.1185779

Cite This Page:

Marine Biological Laboratory. "Scientists call for a new strategy for polar ocean observation." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 21 June 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/06/100617141006.htm>.
Marine Biological Laboratory. (2010, June 21). Scientists call for a new strategy for polar ocean observation. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 25, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/06/100617141006.htm
Marine Biological Laboratory. "Scientists call for a new strategy for polar ocean observation." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/06/100617141006.htm (accessed July 25, 2014).

Share This




More Earth & Climate News

Friday, July 25, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Goma Cheese Brings Whiff of New Hope to DRC

Goma Cheese Brings Whiff of New Hope to DRC

Reuters - Business Video Online (July 24, 2014) — The eastern region of the Democratic Republic of Congo, mainly known for conflict and instability, is an unlikely place for the production of fine cheese. But a farm in the village of Masisi, in North Kivu is slowly transforming perceptions of the area. Known simply as Goma cheese, the Congolese version of Dutch gouda has gained popularity through out the region. Ciara Sutton reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Bill Gates: Health, Agriculture Key to Africa's Development

Bill Gates: Health, Agriculture Key to Africa's Development

AFP (July 24, 2014) — Health and agriculture development are key if African countries are to overcome poverty and grow, US software billionaire Bill Gates said Thursday, as he received an honourary degree in Ethiopia. Duration: 00:36 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Higgins Breaks Record at Mt. Washington

Higgins Breaks Record at Mt. Washington

Driving Sports (July 24, 2014) — Subaru Rally Team USA drivers David Higgins and Travis Pastrana face off against a global contingent of racers at the annual Mt. Washington Hillclimb in New Hampshire. Includes exclusive in-car footage from Higgins' record attempt. Video provided by Driving Sports
Powered by NewsLook.com
Storm Kills Three, Injures 20 at Virginia Campground

Storm Kills Three, Injures 20 at Virginia Campground

Reuters - US Online Video (July 24, 2014) — A likely tornado tears through an eastern Virginia campground, killing three and injuring at least 20. Linda So reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

    Health News

      Environment News

        Technology News



          Save/Print:
          Share:  

          Free Subscriptions


          Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

          Get Social & Mobile


          Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

          Have Feedback?


          Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
          Mobile iPhone Android Web
          Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
          Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
          Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins