Posts Tagged 'Antarctic'

Global variability and changes in ocean total alkalinity from Aquarius satellite data

This work demonstrates how large-scale Aquarius satellite salinity data have provided an unprecedented opportunity when combined with total alkalinity (TA) equations as a function of salinity and temperature to examine global changes in the CO2 system. Alkalinity is a gauge on the ability of seawater to neutralize acids. TA correlates strongly with salinity. Spatial variability in alkalinity and salinity exceed temporal variability. Northern Hemisphere has more spatial variability in TA and salinity, while less variability in Southern Ocean TA is due to less salinity variability and upwelling of waters enriched in alkalinity. For the first time it is shown that TA in subtropical regions has increased as compared with climatological data; this is reflective of large-scale changes in the global water cycle. Thus, as temperature and salinity increase in subtropical regions, the resultant increase in TA and ocean acidification is reinforcing that from oceanic uptake of atmospheric CO2.

Continue reading ‘Global variability and changes in ocean total alkalinity from Aquarius satellite data’

Calculating surface ocean pCO2 from biogeochemical Argo floats equipped with pH: an uncertainty analysis

More than 74 biogeochemical profiling floats that measure water column pH, oxygen, nitrate, fluorescence, and backscattering at 10-day intervals have been deployed throughout the Southern Ocean. Calculating the surface ocean partial pressure of carbon dioxide (pCO2sw) from float pH has uncertainty contributions from the pH sensor, the alkalinity estimate, and carbonate system equilibrium constants, resulting in a relative standard uncertainty in pCO2sw of 2.4% (or 10 µatm at pCO2sw of 400 µatm). The calculated pCO2sw from several floats spanning a range of oceanographic regimes are compared to existing climatologies. In some locations, such as the Subantarctic zone, the float data closely match the climatologies, but in the Polar Antarctic Zone significantly higher pCO2sw are calculated in the wintertime implying a greater air-sea CO2 efflux estimate. Our results based on four representative floats suggest that despite their uncertainty relative to direct measurements the float data can be used to improve estimates for air-sea carbon flux, as well as to increase knowledge of spatial, seasonal, and interannual variability in this flux.

Continue reading ‘Calculating surface ocean pCO2 from biogeochemical Argo floats equipped with pH: an uncertainty analysis’

Mobile diatoms flourish in acid ocean

Thick mats of single celled microalgae, ‘pulsing’ in the seafloor sediments under the Antarctic sea ice, could flourish as ocean acidification intensifies.

Pyper W., 2016. Mobile diatoms flourish in acid ocean. Australian Antarctic Magazine 31:20-21. Article (subscription required).

An in situ incubation method for measuring the productivity and responses of under-ice algae to ocean acidification and warming in polar marine habitats

During the Antarctic spring, algae grows under extensive areas of sea-ice and is a fundamental source of primary production. Understanding how under-ice (bottom-ice) algae will be affected by ocean warming and acidification is critically important in determining the probable future flow-on effects to the ecological communities this algae supports. To investigate this we designed and built a customised experimental system to assess the in situ responses of under-ice algae to changes in both seawater pH and temperature. We conducted two trials in 2013 followed by a successful 14-day incubation experiment in 2014 in the Ross Sea, Antarctica, using the system described here. Assessment of our main control parameters indicated we could reliably control and monitor both pH and temperature in transparent under-ice chambers. The “plug-and-play” nature of our novel system meant it was easy for divers to deploy and maintain in the very cold temperatures experienced under the sea-ice. Moreover, the system could be remotely sampled from a surface laboratory. This enabled robust monitoring and analyses of manipulated seawater conditions (e.g., pH and temperature), and of responses of the associated biological communities (e.g., fluxes in dissolved oxygen and nutrient levels).

Continue reading ‘An in situ incubation method for measuring the productivity and responses of under-ice algae to ocean acidification and warming in polar marine habitats’

Southern Ocean phytoplankton in a changing climate

Phytoplankton are the base of the Antarctic food web, sustain the wealth and diversity of life for which Antarctica is renowned, and play a critical role in biogeochemical cycles that mediate global climate. Over the vast expanse of the Southern Ocean (SO), the climate is variously predicted to experience increased warming, strengthening wind, acidification, shallowing mixed layer depths, increased light (and UV), changes in upwelling and nutrient replenishment, declining sea ice, reduced salinity, and the southward migration of ocean fronts. These changes are expected to alter the structure and function of phytoplankton communities in the SO. The diverse environments contained within the vast expanse of the SO will be impacted differently by climate change; causing the identity and the magnitude of environmental factors driving biotic change to vary within and among bioregions. Predicting the net effect of multiple climate-induced stressors over a range of environments is complex. Yet understanding the response of SO phytoplankton to climate change is vital if we are to predict the future state/s of the ecosystem, estimate the impacts on fisheries and endangered species, and accurately predict the effects of physical and biotic change in the SO on global climate. This review looks at the major environmental factors that define the structure and function of phytoplankton communities in the SO, examines the forecast changes in the SO environment, predicts the likely effect of these changes on phytoplankton, and considers the ramifications for trophodynamics and feedbacks to global climate change. Predictions strongly suggest that all regions of the SO will experience changes in phytoplankton productivity and community composition with climate change. The nature, and even the sign, of these changes varies within and among regions and will depend upon the magnitude and sequence in which these environmental changes are imposed. It is likely that predicted changes to phytoplankton communities will affect SO biogeochemistry, carbon export, and nutrition for higher trophic levels.

Continue reading ‘Southern Ocean phytoplankton in a changing climate’

KrillDB: A de novo transcriptome database for the Antarctic krill (Euphausia superba)

Antarctic krill (Euphausia superba) is a key species in the Southern Ocean with an estimated biomass between 100 and 500 million tonnes. Changes in krill population viability would have catastrophic effect on the Antarctic ecosystem. One looming threat due to elevated levels of anthropogenic atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) is ocean acidification (lowering of sea water pH by CO2 dissolving into the oceans). The genetics of Antarctic krill has long been of scientific interest for both for the analysis of population structure and analysis of functional genetics. However, the genetic resources available for the species are relatively modest. We have developed the most advanced genetic database on Euphausia superba, KrillDB, which includes comprehensive data sets of former and present transcriptome projects. In particular, we have built a de novo transcriptome assembly using more than 360 million Illumina sequence reads generated from larval krill including individuals subjected to different CO2 levels. The database gives access to: 1) the full list of assembled genes and transcripts; 2) their level of similarity to transcripts and proteins from other species; 3) the predicted protein domains contained within each transcript; 4) their predicted GO terms; 5) the level of expression of each transcript in the different larval stages and CO2 treatments. All references to external entities (sequences, domains, GO terms) are equipped with a link to the appropriate source database. Moreover, the software implements a full-text search engine that makes it possible to submit free-form queries. KrillDB represents the first large-scale attempt at classifying and annotating the full krill transcriptome. For this reason, we believe it will constitute a cornerstone of future approaches devoted to physiological and molecular study of this key species in the Southern Ocean food web.

Continue reading ‘KrillDB: A de novo transcriptome database for the Antarctic krill (Euphausia superba)’

Evolutionary genomics of the cold-adapted diatom Fragilariopsis cylindrus

The Southern Ocean houses a diverse and productive community of organisms. Unicellular eukaryotic diatoms are the main primary producers in this environment, where photosynthesis is limited by low concentrations of dissolved iron and large seasonal fluctuations in light, temperature and the extent of sea ice. How diatoms have adapted to this extreme environment is largely unknown. Here we present insights into the genome evolution of a cold-adapted diatom from the Southern Ocean, Fragilariopsis cylindrus, based on a comparison with temperate diatoms. We find that approximately 24.7 per cent of the diploid F. cylindrus genome consists of genetic loci with alleles that are highly divergent (15.1 megabases of the total genome size of 61.1 megabases). These divergent alleles were differentially expressed across environmental conditions, including darkness, low iron, freezing, elevated temperature and increased CO2. Alleles with the largest ratio of non-synonymous to synonymous nucleotide substitutions also show the most pronounced condition-dependent expression, suggesting a correlation between diversifying selection and allelic differentiation. Divergent alleles may be involved in adaptation to environmental fluctuations in the Southern Ocean.

Continue reading ‘Evolutionary genomics of the cold-adapted diatom Fragilariopsis cylindrus’


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Ocean acidification in the IPCC AR5 WG II

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