Posts Tagged 'Antarctic'

Carbon and nutrient cycling in Antarctic landfast sea ice from winter to summer

Seasonal cycling in carbon, alkalinity, and nutrients in landfast sea ice in Hangar Cove, Adelaide Island, West Antarctic Peninsula, were investigated during winter, spring, and summer 2014–2015. Temporal dynamics were driven by changes in the sea-ice physicochemical conditions, ice-algal community composition, and organic matter production. Winter sea ice was enriched with dissolved inorganic carbon (DIC) and inorganic nutrients from organic matter remineralization. Variations in alkalinity (Alk) and DIC indicated that abiotic calcium carbonate (ikaite) precipitation had taken place. Relative to other nutrients, low phosphate (PO4) concentrations potentially resulted from co-precipitation with ikaite. Seawater flooding and meltwater induced variability in the physical and biogeochemical properties in the upper ice in spring where nutrient resupply supported haptophyte productivity and increased particulate organic carbon (POC) in the interstitial layer. Rapid nitrate (NO3) and DIC (< 165 μmol kg−1) uptake occurred alongside substantial build-up of algal biomass (746 μg chlorophyll a L−1) and POC (6191 μmol L−1) during summer. Silicic acid drawdown followed NO3 depletion by approximately 1 month with a shift to diatom-dominated communities. Accumulation of PO4 in the lower ice layers in summer likely resulted from PO4 released during ikaite dissolution in the presence of biofilms. Increased Alk : DIC ratios in the lower ice and under-ice water suggested that ikaite dissolution buffered against meltwater dilution and enhanced the potential for atmospheric CO2 uptake. This study revealed strong seasonality in carbon and nutrient cycling in landfast sea ice and showed the importance of sea ice in biogeochemical cycling in seasonally ice-covered waters around Antarctica.

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Temperature as a likely driver shaping global patterns in mineralogical composition in bryozoans: implications for marine calcifiers under global change

The Southern Ocean is showing one of the most rapid responses to human-induced global change, thus acting as a sentinel of the effects on marine species and ecosystems. Ocean warming and acidification are already impacting benthic species with carbonate skeletons, but the magnitude of these changes to species and ecosystems remains largely unknown. Here we provide the largest carbonate mineralogical dataset to date for Southern Ocean bryozoans, which are diverse, abundant and important as carbonate producers, thus making them excellent for monitoring the effects of ocean warming and acidification. To improve our understanding of how bryozoans might respond to ocean warming and acidification, we assess latitudinal and seafloor temperature patterns of skeletal mineralogy using bryozoan species occurrences together with temperature data for the first time. Our findings, combining new mineralogical data with published data from warmer regions, show that the proportions of high-Mg calcite and bimineralic species increase significantly towards lower latitudes and with increasing seawater temperature. These patterns are consistent with the hypothesis that seawater temperature is likely a significant driver of variations in bryozoan mineralogy at a global scale.

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Transcriptomic analysis reveals distinct mechanisms of adaptation of a polar picophytoplankter under ocean acidification conditions

Graphical abstract.

Highlights

  • Increase of carbon dioxide emission to the atmosphere acidifies the ocean.
  • Ocean acidification drives the growth of a small green phytoplankter (picochlorophyte).
  • Picochlorophytes exhibit distinct metabolism compared to other polar phytoplankton.
  • Genes related to ribosomal proteins, amino acid synthesis, RNA post-transcriptional modification, nitrogen assimilation, molecular chaperones, light harvesting complexes, pigment synthesis, were found to be differentially expressed under future predicted CO2 levels.

Abstract

Human emissions of carbon dioxide are causing irreversible changes in our oceans and impacting marine phytoplankton, including a group of small green algae known as picochlorophytes. Picochlorophytes grown in natural phytoplankton communities under future predicted levels of carbon dioxide have been demonstrated to thrive, along with redistribution of the cellular metabolome that enhances growth rate and photosynthesis. Here, using next-generation sequencing technology, we measured levels of transcripts in a picochlorophyte Chlorella, isolated from the sub-Antarctic and acclimated under high and current ambient CO2 levels, to better understand the molecular mechanisms involved with its ability to acclimate to elevated CO2. Compared to other phytoplankton taxa that induce broad transcriptomic responses involving multiple parts of their cellular metabolism, the changes observed in Chlorella focused on activating gene regulation involved in different sets of pathways such as light harvesting complex binding proteins, amino acid synthesis and RNA modification, while carbon metabolism was largely unaffected. Triggering a specific set of genes could be a unique strategy of small green phytoplankton under high CO2 in polar oceans.

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Enhance seasonal amplitude of atmospheric CO2 by the changing Southern Ocean carbon sink

The enhanced seasonal amplitude of atmospheric CO2 has been viewed so far primarily as a Northern Hemisphere phenomenon. Yet, analyses of atmospheric CO2 records from 49 stations between 1980 and 2018 reveal substantial trends and variations in this amplitude globally. While no significant trends can be discerned before 2000 in most places, strong positive trends emerge after 2000 in the southern high latitudes. Using factorial simulations with an atmospheric transport model and analyses of surface ocean Pco2 observations, we show that the increase is best explained by the onset of increasing seasonality of air-sea CO2 exchange over the Southern Ocean around 2000. Underlying these changes is the long-term ocean acidification trend that tends to enhance the seasonality of the air-sea fluxes, but this trend is modified by the decadal variability of the Southern Ocean carbon sink. The seasonal variations of atmospheric CO2 thus emerge as a sensitive recorder of the variations of the Southern Ocean carbon sink.

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Temperature as a likely driver shaping global patterns in mineralogical composition in bryozoans: implications for marine calcifiers under global change

The Southern Ocean is showing one of the most rapid responses to human-induced global change, thus acting as a sentinel of the effects on marine species and ecosystems. Ocean warming and acidification are already impacting benthic species with carbonate skeletons, but the magnitude of these changes to species and ecosystems remains largely unknown. Here we provide the largest carbonate mineralogical dataset to date for Southern Ocean bryozoans, which are diverse, abundant and important as carbonate producers, thus making them excellent for monitoring the effects of ocean warming and acidification. To improve our understanding of how bryozoans might respond to ocean warming and acidification, we assess latitudinal and seafloor temperature patterns of skeletal mineralogy using bryozoan species occurrences together with temperature data for the first time. Our findings, combining new mineralogical data with published data from warmer regions, show that the proportions of high-Mg calcite and bimineralic species increase significantly towards lower latitudes and with decreasing seawater temperature. These patterns are consistent with the hypothesis that seawater temperature is likely a significant driver of variations in bryozoan mineralogy at a global scale.

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The influence of tides on the marine carbonate chemistry of a coastal polynya in the south-eastern Weddell Sea

Tides significantly affect polar coastlines by modulating ice shelf melt and modifying shelf water properties through transport and mixing. However, the effect of tides on the marine carbonate chemistry in such regions, especially around Antarctica, remains largely unexplored. We address this topic with two case studies in a coastal polynya in the south-eastern Weddell Sea, neighbouring the Ekström Ice Shelf. The case studies were conducted in January 2015 (PS89) and January 2019 (PS117), capturing semi-diurnal oscillations in the water column. These are pronounced in both physical and biogeochemical variables for PS89. During rising tide, advection of sea ice meltwater from the north-east created a fresher, warmer, and more deeply mixed water column with lower dissolved inorganic carbon (DIC) and total alkalinity (TA) content. During ebbing tide, water from underneath the ice shelf decreased the polynya’s temperature, increased the DIC and TA content, and created a more stratified water column. The variability during the PS117 case study was much smaller, as it had less sea ice meltwater input during rising tide and was better mixed with sub-ice shelf water. The contrasts in the variability between the two case studies could be wind and sea ice driven, and they underline the complexity and highly dynamic nature of the system.

The variability in the polynya induced by the tides results in an air–sea CO2 flux that can range between a strong sink (−24 mmol m−2 d−1) and a small source (3 mmol m−2 d−1) on a semi-diurnal timescale. If the variability induced by tides is not taken into account, there is a potential risk of overestimating the polynya’s CO2 uptake by 67 % or underestimating it by 73 %, compared to the average flux determined over several days. Depending on the timing of limited sampling, the polynya may appear to be a source or a sink of CO2. Given the disproportionate influence of polynyas on heat and carbon exchange in polar oceans, we recommend future studies around the Antarctic and Arctic coastlines to consider the timing of tidal currents in their sampling strategies and analyses. This will help constrain variability in oceanographic measurements and avoid potential biases in our understanding of these highly complex systems.

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Calcification of planktonic foraminifer Neogloboquadrina pachyderma (sinistral) controlled by seawater temperature rather than ocean acidification in the Antarctic Zone of modern Southern Ocean

Neogloboquadrina pachyderma (sinistral), the dominant planktonic foraminiferal species in the mid-to-high latitude oceans, represents a major component of local calcium carbonate (CaCO3) production. However, the predominant factors, governing the calcification of this species and its potential response to the future marine environmental changes, are poorly understood. The present study utilized an improved cleaning method for the size-normalized weight (SNW) measurement to estimate the SNW of N. pachyderma (sin.) in surface sediments from the Amundsen Sea, the Ross Sea, and the Prydz Bay in the Antarctic Zone of the Southern Ocean. It was found that SNW of N. pachyderma (sin.) is not controlled by deep-water carbonate dissolution post-mortem, and can be therefore, used to reflect the degree of calcification. The comparison between N. pachyderma (sin.) SNW and environmental parameters (temperature, salinity, nutrient concentration, and carbonate system) in the calcification depth revealed that N. pachyderma (sin.) SNWs in the size ranges of 200–250, 250–300, and 300–355 µm are significantly and positively correlated with seawater temperature. Moreover, SNW would increase by ∼30% per degree increase in temperature, thereby suggesting that the calcification of N. pachyderma (sin.) in the modern Antarctic Zone of the Southern Ocean is mainly controlled by temperature, rather than by other environmental parameters such as ocean acidification. Importantly, a potential increase in calcification of N. pachyderma (sin.) in the Antarctic Zone to produce CaCO3 will release CO2 into the atmosphere. In turn, the future ocean warming will weaken the ocean carbon sink, thereby generating positive feedback for global warming.

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Physical and biological controls on anthropogenic CO2 sink of the Ross Sea

The Antarctic continental shelf is known as a critical anthropogenic CO2 (Cant) sink due to its cold waters, high primary productivity, and unique circulation, which allow it to sequester large amounts of organic and inorganic carbon into the deep ocean. However, climate change is currently causing significant alteration to the Antarctic marine carbon cycle, with unknown consequences on the Cant uptake capacity, making model-based estimates of future ocean acidification of polar regions highly uncertain. Here, we investigated the marine carbonate system in the Ross Sea in order to assess the current anthropogenic carbon content and how physical–biological processes can control the Cant sequestration along the shelf-slope continuum. The Winter Water mass generated from convective events was characterized by high Cant level (28 µmol kg−1) as a consequence of the mixed layer break-up during the cold season, whereas old and less-ventilated Circumpolar Deep Water entering the Ross Sea revealed a very scarce contribution of anthropogenic carbon (7 µmol kg−1). The Cant concentration was also different between polynya areas and the shelf break, as a result of their specific hydrographic characteristics and biological processes: surface waters of the Ross Sea and Terra Nova Bay polynyas served as strong CO2 sink (up to −185 mmol m−2), due to the remarkable net community production, estimated from the summertime surface-dissolved inorganic carbon deficit. However, a large amount of the generated particulate organic carbon was promptly consumed by intense microbial activity, giving back carbon dioxide into the intermediate and deep layers of the continental shelf zone. Further Cant also derived from High-Salinity Shelf Water produced during winter sea ice formation (25 µmol kg−1), fueling dense shelf waters with additional input of Cant, which was finally stored into the abyssal sink through continental slope outflow (19 µmol kg−1). Our results suggest that summer biological activity over the Ross Sea shelf is pivotal for the shunt of anthropogenic CO2 between the organic and inorganic carbon pools, enhancing the ocean acidification of the upper mesopelagic zone and the long-term Cant sequestration into the deep ocean.

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Marine pelagic ecosystem responses to climate variability and change

The marine coastal region makes up just 10% of the total area of the global ocean but contributes nearly 20% of its total primary production and over 80% of fisheries landings. Unicellular phytoplankton dominate primary production. Climate variability has had impacts on various marine ecosystems, but most sites are just approaching the age at which ecological responses to longer term, unidirectional climate trends might be distinguished. All five marine pelagic sites in the US Long Term Ecological Research (LTER) network are experiencing warming trends in surface air temperature. The marine physical system is responding at all sites with increasing mixed layer temperatures and decreasing depth and with declining sea ice cover at the two polar sites. Their ecological responses are more varied. Some sites show multiple population or ecosystem changes, whereas, at others, changes have not been detected, either because more time is needed or because they are not being measured.

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Stylasterid corals build aragonite skeletons in undersaturated water despite low pH at the site of calcification

Anthropogenic carbon emissions are causing seawater pH to decline, yet the impact on marine calcifiers is uncertain. Scleractinian corals and coralline algae strongly elevate the pH of their calcifying fluid (CF) to promote calcification. Other organisms adopt less energetically demanding calcification approaches but restrict their habitat. Stylasterid corals occur widely (extending well below the carbonate saturation horizon) and precipitate both aragonite and high-Mg calcite, however, their mode of biocalcification and resilience to ocean acidification are unknown. Here we measure skeletal boron isotopes (δ11B), B/Ca, and U/Ca to provide the first assessment of pH and rate of seawater flushing of stylasterid CF. Remarkably, both aragonitic and high-Mg calcitic stylasterids have low δ11B values implying little modification of internal pH. Collectively, our results suggest stylasterids have low seawater exchange rates into the calcifying space or rely on organic molecule templating to facilitate calcification. Thus, despite occupying similar niches to Scleractinia, Stylasteridae exhibit highly contrasting biocalcification, calling into question their resilience to ocean acidification.

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Gaining insights into the seawater carbonate system using discrete fCO2 measurements

Understanding the ocean carbon sink and its future acidification-derived changes requires accurate and precise measurements with good spatiotemporal coverage. In addition, a deep knowledge of the thermodynamics of the seawater carbonate system is key to interconverting between measured and calculated variables. To gain insights into the remaining inconsistencies in the seawater carbonate system, we assess discrete water column measurements of carbon dioxide fugacity (fCO2), dissolved inorganic carbon (DIC), total alkalinity (TA), and pH measured with unpurified indicators, from hydrographic cruises in the Atlantic, Pacific, and Southern Oceans included in GLODAPv2.2020 (19,013 samples). An agreement of better than ± 3% between fCO2 measured and calculated from DIC and pH is obtained for 94% of the compiled dataset, while when considering fCO2 measured and calculated from DIC and TA, the agreement is better than ± 4% for 88% of the compiled dataset, with a poorer internal consistency for high-CO2 waters. Inspecting all likely sources of uncertainty from measured and calculated variables, we conclude that the seawater carbonate system community needs to (i) further refine the thermodynamic model of the seawater carbonate system, especially K2, including the impact of organic compounds and other acid-base systems on TA; (ii) update the standard operating procedures for the seawater carbonate system measurements following current technological and analytical advances, paying particular attention to the pH methodology that is the one that evolved the most; (iii) encourage measuring discrete water column fCO2 to further check the internal consistency of the seawater carbonate system, especially given the new era of sensor-based seawater measurements; and (iv) develop seawater Certified Reference Materials (CRMs) for fCO2 and pH together with seawater CRMs for TA and DIC over the range of values encountered in the global ocean. Our conclusions also suggest the need for a re-evaluation of the adjustments applied by GLODAPv2 to pH, which were based on DIC and TA consistency checks but not supported by fCO2 and DIC consistency.

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Spatial and temporal variability of the physical, carbonate and CO2 properties in the Southern Ocean surface waters during austral summer (2005-2019)

Highlights

  • Latitudinal and temporal variability of physical and carbonate parameters are studied south of Tasmania.
  • Physical and carbonate parameters are impacted by mesoscale activity in the STZ and north of SAR.
  • The region is a sink of CO2 during summer with a mean CO2 flux of −4.0 ± 2.8 mmol m−2 d−1.
  • New empirical relationships for AT and CT during austral summer are determined.
  • The increase in CT and decrease in pH linked to rising anthropogenic emissions.

Abstract

In situ measurements of sea surface temperature (SST), salinity (SSS), Total Alkalinity (AT) and Total Carbon (CT) were obtained during austral summer (mid-February to mid-March) from 2005 to 2019 in the Southern Ocean (SO), along a transect between Hobart, Tasmania and Dumont d’Urville French Antarctic Station. The studied transect is divided in four regions from North to South: the Subtropical Zone (STZ), the Subantarctic Region (SAR), the Antarctic Region (AAR) and the Coastal Antarctic Zone (CAZ). Latitudinal distribution of measured SST, SSS, AT, CT as well as calculated pH, CO2 parameters (seawater fugacity of CO2 (fCO2sw), difference between seawater and atmospheric fugacity (ΔfCO2), CO2 flux (FCO2)) and satellite-derived Chlorophyll a (Chl-a) are discussed. We show that the variability of physical and carbonate parameters in the STZ and north of the SAR are related to the mesoscale activity. In the CAZ, the freshwater inputs from sea-ice melting strongly impact the variability of all parameters. The comparison between physical and carbonate parameters highlights that AT and CT are directly related to the latitudinal variability of SST and SSS. Study of the CO2 parameters shows that the transect is a sink of CO2 during February and March, with a mean FCO2 of −4.0 ± 2.8 mmol m−2 d−1. The most negative values of FCO2 are found in the STZ and SAR north of 50°S and in the AAR south of 62°S, where biological activity is high. New simple empirical relationships are developed for AT from SST and SSS and for CT using SST, SSS and atmospheric fCO2 (fCO2atm) for the austral summer in the studied area. Using high resolution SSS and SST from the SURVOSTRAL program, trends of AT and CT are determined in the SAR and the AAR from 2005 to 2019. SST, SSS and AT increase over this period in the SAR, which might be explained by the southward migration of the Subtropical Front. In the AAR, no clear trend is detected. CT increases by 1.0 ± 0.2 and 0.8 ± 0.3 μmol kg−1 y−1 in the SAR and AAR respectively. The trend in the AAR is attributed to the increase in anthropogenic CO2 emissions in the atmosphere while, in the SAR, hydrographic changes also contribute to the increase. Using the coefficient associated with fCO2atm in the equation of CT, we estimate the impact of atmospheric CO2 increase on CT at 1.18 ± 0.14 μmol kg−1 y−1 and 1.07 ± 0.13 μmol kg−1 y−1 in the SAR and AAR respectively. Decreases in pH are observed in both regions (−0.0018 ± 0.0001 and −0.0026 ± 0.0003 per year in the SAR and AAR respectively), indicating the sensitivity of surface waters in the area towards the development of ocean acidification processes under rising anthropogenic emissions.

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Transitioning global change experiments on Southern Ocean phytoplankton from lab to field settings: insights and challenges

The influence of global change on Southern Ocean productivity will have major ramifications for future management of polar life. A prior laboratory study investigated the response of a batch-cultured subantarctic diatom to projected change simulating conditions for 2100 (increased temperature/CO2/irradiance/iron; decreased macronutrients), showed a twofold higher chlorophyll-derived growth rate driven mainly by temperature and iron. We translated this design to the field to understand the phytoplankton community response, within a subantarctic foodweb, to 2100 conditions. A 7-d shipboard study utilizing 250-liter mesocosms was conducted in March 2016. The outcome mirrors lab-culture experiments, yielding twofold higher chlorophyll in the 2100 treatment relative to the control. This trend was also evident for intrinsic metrics including nutrient depletion. Unlike the lab-culture study, photosynthetic competence revealed a transient effect in the 2100 mesocosm, peaking on day 3 then declining. Metaproteomics revealed significant differences in protein profiles between treatments by day 7. The control proteome was enriched for photosynthetic processes (c.f. 2100) and exhibited iron-limitation signatures; the 2100 proteome exposed a shift in cellular energy production. Our findings of enhanced phytoplankton growth are comparable to model simulations, but underlying mechanisms (temperature, iron, and/or light) differ between experiments and models. Batch-culture approaches hinder cross-comparison of mesocosm findings to model simulations (the latter are akin to “continuous-culture chemostats”). However, chemostat techniques are problematic to use with mesocosms, as mesozooplankton will evade seawater flow-through, thereby accumulating. Thus, laboratory, field, and modeling approaches reveal challenges to be addressed to better understand how global change will alter Southern Ocean productivity.

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Antarctic climate change and the environment: a decadal synopsis and recommendations for action

Scientific evidence is abundantly clear and convincing that due to the current trajectory of human-derived emissions of CO₂ and other greenhouse gases, the atmosphere and ocean will continue to warm, the ocean will continue to acidify, atmospheric and ocean circulation patterns will be altered, the cryosphere will continue to lose ice in all forms, and sea level will rise.

While uncertainties remain about various aspects of the Earth System, what is known is beyond dispute. The trends, based on observations and confirmed by modelling, will accelerate if high rates of CO₂ and other greenhouse gas emissions continue.

The IPCC AR6 WGII Summary for Policymakers (SPM D.5.3) unambiguously emphasises this conclusion: The cumulative scientific evidence is unequivocal: Climate change is a threat to human well-being and planetary health. Any further delay in concerted anticipatory global action on adaptation and mitigation will miss a brief and rapidly closing window of opportunity to secure a liveable and sustainable future for all.

Human influence on the climate is clear, with observed changes in the climate and in greenhouse gas concentrations unequivocally attributable to human activities.

Human-induced climate change has caused extensive negative impacts, including losses to people and to nature, some of which are irreversible, such as the extinction of species.

Climate change is increasingly exacerbating the impact of other human-caused effects on nature and human well-being, and the impacts are expected to grow with increasing climate change magnitude.

Observations, modelling and global assessments describe significant changes in Antarctic physical and living systems, both marine and terrestrial.

Changes in Antarctic and Southern Ocean environments are linked to and influence climate impact drivers globally.

The most significant potential influence of Antarctica’s changes will be on global mean sea level change and its influence on society and nature in all coastal regions of the globe.

Further global impacts influenced by Antarctic change include extreme climate and weather events, droughts, wildfires and floods, and ocean acidification. These impacts cause ecosystem disruption and loss of biodiversity beyond the Antarctic region.

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Reviews and syntheses: a framework to observe, understand, and project ecosystem response to environmental change in the East Antarctic Southern Ocean

Systematic long-term studies on ecosystem dynamics are largely lacking for the East Antarctic Southern Ocean, although it is well recognized that such investigations are indispensable to identify the ecological impacts and risks of environmental change. Therefore, here we develop a framework for establishing a long-term cross-disciplinary study and argue why the eastern Weddell Sea and the easterly adjacent sea off Dronning Maud Land (WSoDML) is a well suited area for such an initiative. As in the Eastern Antarctic in general, climate and environmental change have so far been comparatively muted in this area. A systematic long-term study of its environmental and ecological state can thus provide a baseline of the current situation, an assessment of future changes, and sound data can act as a model to develop and calibrate projections. Establishing a long-term observation (LTO) and long-term ecological research (LTER) programme now would allow the study of climate-driven ecosystem changes and interactions with impacts arising from other anthropogenic activities, from their very onset. Through regular autonomous and ship-based LTO activities, changes in ocean dynamics, geochemistry, biodiversity and ecosystem functions and services can be systematically explored and mapped. This observational work should be accompanied by targeted LTER efforts, including experimental and modelling studies. This approach will provide a level of long-term data availability and ecosystem understanding that are imperative to determine, understand, and project the consequences of climate change and support a sound science-informed management of future conservation efforts in the Southern Ocean.

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The marine carbonate system along the northern Antarctic peninsula: current knowledge and future perspectives

Among the regions of the Southern Ocean, the northern Antarctic Peninsula (NAP) has emerged as a hotspot of climate change investigation. Nonetheless, studies have indicated issues and knowledge gaps that must be addressed to expand the understanding of the carbonate system in the region. Therefore, we focused on identifying current knowledge about sea-air CO2 fluxes (FCO2), anthropogenic carbon (Cant) and ocean acidification along NAP and provide a better comprehension of the key physical processes controlling the carbonate system. Regarding physical dynamics, we discuss the role of water masses formation, climate modes, upwelling and intrusions of Circumpolar Deep Water, and mesoscale processes. For FCO2, we show that the summer season corresponds to a strong sink in coastal areas, leading to CO2 uptake that is greater than or equal to that of the open ocean. We highlight that the prevalence of summer studies prevents comprehending processes occurring throughout the year and the net annual CO2 balance in the region. Thus, temporal investigations are necessary to determine natural environmental fluctuations and to distinguish natural variability from anthropogenically driven changes. We emphasize the importance of more studies regarding Cant uptake rate, accumulation, and export to global oceans.

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A promising approach to quantifying pteropod eggs using image analysis and machine learning

A newly developed protocol to semi-automate egg counting in Southern Ocean shelled (thecosome) pteropods using image analysis software and machine learning algorithms was developed and tested for accuracy. Preserved thecosome pteropod (Limacina helicina antarctica) egg masses collected from two austral summer research voyages in East Antarctica were digitally photographed to develop a streamlined approach to enumerate eggs within egg masses using Fiji/ImageJ and the associated machine learning plugin known as Trainable Weka Segmentation. Results from this semi-automated approach were then used to compare with manual egg counts from eggs dissected from egg masses under stereomicroscope. A statistically significant correlation was observed between manual and semi-automated approaches (R2 = 0.92, p < 0.05). There was no significant difference between manual and automated protocols when egg counts were divided by the egg mass areas (mm2) (t(29.6) = 1.98, p = 0.06). However, the average time to conduct semi-automated counts (M = 7.4, SD = 1.2) was significantly less than that for the manual enumeration technique (M = 35.9, SD = 5.7; t(30) = 2.042, p < 0.05). This new approach is promising and, unlike manual enumeration, could allow specimens to remain intact for use in live culturing experiments. Despite some limitations that are discussed, this user-friendly and simplistic protocol can provide the basis for further future development, including the addition of macro scripts to improve reproducibility and through the association with other imaging platforms to enhance interoperability. Furthermore, egg counting using this technique may lead to a relatively unexplored monitoring tool to better understand the responses of a species highly sensitive to multiple stressors connected to climate change.

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Ichnodiversity in the eastern Canadian Arctic in the context of polar microbioerosion patterns

Studies of marine microbioerosion in polar environments are scarce. They include our recent investigations of bioerosion traces preserved in sessile balanid skeletons from the Arctic Svalbard archipelago and the Antarctic Ross Sea. Here, we present results from a third study site, Frobisher Bay, in the eastern Canadian Arctic, together with a synthesis of our current knowledge of polar bioerosion in both hemispheres. Barnacles from 62 to 94 m water depth in Frobisher Bay were prepared using the cast-embedding technique to enable visualization of microboring traces by scanning electron microscopy. In total, six ichnotaxa of traces produced by organotrophic bioeroders were found. All recorded ichnotaxa were also present in Mosselbukta, Svalbard, and most in the Ross Sea. Frobisher Bay contrasts with Mosselbukta in that it is a siliciclastic-dominated environment and shows a lower ichnodiversity, which may be accounted for by the limited bathymetrical range and a high turbidity and sedimentation rate. We evaluate potential key ichnotaxa for the cold-temperate and polar regions, of which the most suitable are Flagrichnus baiulus and Saccomorpha guttulata, and propose adapted index ichnocoenoses for the interpretation of palaeobathymetry accordingly. Together, the three studies allow us to make provisional considerations about the biogeographical distribution of polar microbioerosion traces reflecting the ecophysiological limits of their makers.

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The symbiotic relationship between the Antarctic limpet, Nacella concinna, and epibiont coralline algae

The Antarctic limpet, Nacella concinna, is one of the most abundant benthic marine invertebrates found in the intertidal zone of King George Island, Antarctica. The shell of N. concinna is often encrusted with the coralline algae Clathromorphum obtectulum. In this study, to reveal the relationship between the limpet and coralline algae, we examined how the coralline algae affect the physical condition (survival and health) and morphology of the limpet. We cultured the limpets for 22 days and compared mortality, weight, condition factor (CF), fatty acid content, and the structure of the shell surface between limpets both with and without coralline algae in the laboratory. We also measured the environmental factors (i.e., temperature, pH, and salinity) of the seawater at each sampling site and the CF of the limpets and correlated them with coverage of coralline algae. The presence of coralline algae significantly increased the mortality of the limpets by 40% and the shell weight by 1.4-fold but did not affect the CF. Additionally, coralline algae altered the fatty acid profiles related to the limpet’s lipid metabolism (saturated fatty acids (SFA) and some polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA)). Specifically, C16:0, C17:0, C18:0, and total SFA increased, whereas C18:2 and C18:3 decreased. However, observations with a scanning electron microscope showed that shell damage in limpets with coralline algae was much less than in limpets without coralline algae, suggesting that coralline algae may provide protection against endolithic algae. The area of coralline algae on the limpet shell was positively correlated with the pH and temperature of the seawater. The results suggest that although coralline algae are generally assumed to be parasitical, the relationship between N. concinna and coralline algae may change to mutualism under certain conditions.

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In contrast to diatoms, cryptophytes are susceptible to iron limitation, but not to ocean acidification

Previous field studies in the Southern Ocean (SO) indicated an increased occurrence and dominance of cryptophytes over diatoms due to climate change. To gain a better mechanistic understanding of how the two ecologically important SO phytoplankton groups cope with ocean acidification (OA) and iron (Fe) availability, we chose two common representatives of Antarctic waters, the cryptophyte Geminigera cryophila and the diatom Pseudo-nitzschia subcurvata. Both species were grown at 2°C under different pCO2 (400 vs. 900 μatm) and Fe (0.6 vs. 1.2 nM) conditions. For P. subcurvata, an additional high pCO2 level was applied (1400 μatm). At ambient pCO2 under low Fe supply, growth of G. cryophila almost stopped while it remained unaffected in P. subcurvata. Under high Fe conditions, OA was not beneficial for P. subcurvata, but stimulated growth and carbon production of G. cryophila. Under low Fe supply, P. subcurvata coped much better with OA than the cryptophyte, but invested more energy into photoacclimation. Our study reveals that Fe limitation was detrimental for the growth of G. cryophila and suppressed the positive OA effect. The diatom was efficient in coping with low Fe, but was stressed by OA while both factors together strongly impacted its growth. The distinct physiological response of both species to OA and Fe limitation explains their occurrence in the field. Based on our results, Fe availability is an important modulator of OA effects on SO phytoplankton, with different implications on the occurrence of cryptophytes and diatoms in the future.

Continue reading ‘In contrast to diatoms, cryptophytes are susceptible to iron limitation, but not to ocean acidification’

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