Mānoa Professor Craig Smith and postdoctoral student Laura Grange of the School of Ocean and Earth Science Technology are part of an international team conducting research on climate change in Antarctica.
The multi-disciplinary field program addresses the rapid and fundamental changes occurring in the Antarctic Peninsula region as a consequence of the abrupt collapse of the Larsen B Ice Shelf in the fall of 2002. Smith and Grange are blogging their research and experiences in Antarctica through March 3.
A profound transformation in ecosystem structure and function is occurring in coastal waters of the western Weddell Sea. This transformation appears to be yielding a redistribution of energy flow under the former ice shelf between chemoautotrophic and photosynthetic production, and to be causing the rapid demise of the extraordinary seep ecosystem discovered beneath the ice shelf, providing an ideal opportunity to test fundamental paradigms in ecosystem evolution.
“Our work will be very interdisciplinary, involving physical oceanographic moorings to study current regimes and particle flux over the next two years, studies of phytoplankton standing stock and productivity, and sampling of seafloor communities in all size classes to assess patterns of biodiversity and food web structure,” says Smith. “We will also utilize an ROV to search for and sample the first cold seep reported from the Southern Ocean, which occurs in our study area.”