Upcoming Science This Season

Response to environmental changes and post-industrial recovery of foraminifera from South Georgia fjords, sub-Antarctic

 

1. What is the problem this science is trying to solve?

Our primary objective is to document modern benthic communities of foraminifera inhabiting poorly studied fjords of South Georgia (SG) and explore how their local biodiversity has responded to the twin impacts of industrialization and global warming in this sub-Antarctic area.

 

2. What do you expect to find from this science?

We expect to document biodiversity and distribution patterns of modern foraminifera in SG’s fjords, including the poorly-known monothalamids and describe new species. We will also reconstruct changes in foraminiferal faunas and paleoenvironments over the last 150 years in selected fjord locations. We will compare records from locations impacted by the whaling industry, i.e. in Stromness and Cumberland bays and those not impacted, i.e. in Antarctic Bay and possibly also in Fortuna Bay. Importantly, it will be also possible to document ecosystem recovery following the 1961 closure of the whaling station in Stromness Bay and its response to the ongoing warming.

 

3. Why is this piece of science/research important?

The data we plan to obtain will provide a valuable baseline for recognizing future trends and will help to assess resistance of SG ecosystem to local but severe industrial impact and its capability to reestablishing natural communities. They will also allow to predict future ecosystem changes in the Antarctic Peninsula sector of Antarctica linked to ongoing climate warming.

 

4. What are you actually going to be doing?

During our fieldwork, we will sample sea floor sediment with Kajak and Van Veen devices in up to 38 sites primarily in Cumberland West and East, Stromness, and Antarctic bays. Our secondary sites are most of all in Fortuna Bay. Precise date of sampling depends on weather conditions but must take place in late November to early December from SRV Saoirse. During this time, 3 persons will be also using labs of the KEP Research Station for microscope analyses on fresh material and initial sample preparation. Samples/cores (some frozen) will be transported to UK and Poland for further analyses

 


 

Media Activites

Details of your project website (if applicable):
None

Your twitter handle and any hashtags you plan to use:
None

Any media interviews or articles you have planned while you are doing your field work:
Not yet

 


 

Principal Investigator

Name: Wojciech Majewski
Email: wmaj(at)twarda.pan.pl

Polar Ocean Ecosystem Time Series - Western Core Box

 

1. What is the problem this science is trying to solve?

South Georgia has been identified as a key source of regional biodiversity, potentially supporting anomalously high levels of endemic and range-edge species. The biota is generally considered Antarctic in character with organisms typically slow growing, long lived and with deferred sexual maturity. The best possibility to monitor biological response to climate change is probably where many species are highly thermally sensitive and at range edges. The pelagic ecosystem of South Georgia is extremely productive and intense phytoplankton blooms support a rich food web that includes zooplankton, in particular large densities of Antarctic krill, and vertebrate predators (penguins, seals and whales). Our long-term time-series investigates the climatic and anthropogenic forces influencing the South Georgia marine ecosystem.

 

2. What do you expect to find from this science?

The main deliverable of the WCB is a consistent unique time series of mesoscale distribution and abundance of Antarctic krill and an understanding of the physical environment they are within at South Georgia, South Atlantic (1996 – current). These data are required to understand the long term variability in krill biomass at South Georgia and the influences from climate variability, fishing pressure and predation.

 

3. Why is this piece of science/research important?

Antarctic krill (Euphausia superba) play a central role in the Southern Ocean food web as effective grazers on phytoplankton as well as a key prey item of a wide range of higher trophic predators. Inter-annual fluctuations in krill abundance at South Georgia were first noted during the whaling period in the early part of the twentieth century. There appear to be 2 to 3 years in each decade where the abundance of krill at South Georgia is low, the predator foraging and breeding performance is reduced, and the krill fishery reports reduced catch levels and rates. We undertake this long-term science to investigate the climate and anthropogenic forces that influence these cycles with a view to providing information pertinent to the management of the Antarctic ecosystem and greater understanding of ecosystem variability.

 

4. What are you actually going to be doing?

The cruise consists of the following two key projects, and aims to support other projects (PhD, CASS Collaborative Antarctic Science Scheme and other international collaborators) where they fit to the general sampling programme.
POETS - WCB survey

1. Acoustic survey during daylight hours using multi-frequency (38, 70, 120 & 200 kHz) Simrad EK60 echosounder. Two transects to be run each day during a four day period.
2. Deployment of the CTD at minimum of two stations per night during survey.
3. Continuous operation of underway data logging system (bathymetry, location, sea surface temperature, sea currents, etc.).
4. Net sampling (RMT8 and other zooplankton/micronekton nets) at night-time stations plus target fishing during both night and day to ground-truth acoustic data.
5. Acoustic calibration using standard sphere techniques will be undertaken in one of the deep-water harbours on the North coast of South Georgia (Stromness Harbour is the preferred location).
6. Recover WCB mooring. Download data, refurbish and replace batteries. Redeploy mooring.
POETS – SCOOBIES (SCotia sea Open-Ocean BIological laboratoriES)
Mooring recovery, refurbishment and redeployment

1. Recover two deep-water moorings (SW and NW of South Georgia). Download data, refurbish and replace batteries. Redeploy moorings during cruise.
2. Net sampling (RMT8, MOCNESS and other zooplankton nets) over 24 hour periods at mooring stations

 


 

Media Activites

Details of your project website (if applicable):
https://www.bas.ac.uk/project/poets-wcb/ and https://www.bas.ac.uk/project/scoobies/

Your twitter handle and any hashtags you plan to use:
@BAS_science

Any media interviews or articles you have planned while you are doing your field work:
None

 


 

Principal Investigator

Name: Sophie Fielding

Email: sof(at)bas.ac.uk