With more ecological shifts in store, scientists wonder whether these changes will soon manifest in other parts of Antarctica. And when dead, sink unceremoniously to the sea floor to eventually become sedimentary rocks, some of which produce the petrochemical products we love so dearly in our modern life.
The sea ice surrounding Antarctica, which covers an area twice the size of Australia every winter, concentrates iron like a sponge, only to release it upon melting in the spring with dramatic consequences. And what happens to the animals that depend on the microscopic creatures?
Receding ice was leaving the ocean surface vulnerable to intense wind. The shorter ice season means more sunlight reaches the ocean surface. But on the southern end, where the Peninsula broadens into the continent, sea ice was not diminishing as fast, and plankton were still thriving.
In turn, fish, penguins, and whales live on the krill. Montes-Hugo collaborated with colleagues conducting research at Palmer Station, situated on the western coast of the Peninsula, to see how sea ice might be affecting phytoplankton.
Adelies have been replaced by other species, like Chinstrap penguins, that do not rely as heavily on krill. On average, ice along the Peninsula now forms fifty-four days later and melts thirty-one days earlier.
Microscopy also showed shifts in diatom species throughout the area, C and chl a biomass estimates for the individual microalgae groups were strongly correlated for cryptophytes, chlorophytes and most diatoms, but did poorly for dinoflagellates, prymnesiophytes and chrysophytes.
However, not all of the Southern Ocean is so deprived in phytoplankton vegies. They also like the fresher water contained in this surface layer, as it allows them to float above the saltier and denser layers below. They are mostly composed of water and are not as nutritious as krill, so some penguin and whale species cannot survive on them.
The phytoplankton have a giant party, observable from space, and significantly affect the balance of carbon dioxide and oxygen in the atmosphere.
Receding sea ice in the north was pushing certain species to the more stable ice conditions remaining along the southern Peninsula. Land is shown in black. Salps are large, translucent, barrel-shaped plankton that resemble jellyfish.
The northern tip of the Peninsula was experiencing the most change, including the most drastic sea ice loss, and the plankton populations there were decreasing dramatically.
Although sea ice is more stable along the southern coasts, environmental change may be creeping to that portion of the Peninsula. Phytoplankton, those tiny plants floating around in the vast openness of the oceans, tirelessly working and giving their lives so that we humans and every other animal on earth can breathe comfortably.
So you have less sea ice, more northerly winds, more cloudy conditions, and warmer conditions. Along the northern Antarctic Peninsula, penguins and whales feed on krill.
Satellite sensors can be ideal for this, because they capture the large swaths of ocean colored by blooms. Because it is more temperate than the continent, the Peninsula is more susceptible to changing climate. But when the researchers looked at the entire region, they discovered that disappearing sea ice was only part of what was causing such a dramatic shift in phytoplankton populations.
No wonder then that so much effort is invested in understanding the processes that drive their existence. Blue and purple indicate decreasing phytoplankton; orange and red indicate stable or increasing populations. In situ cell C: Or they used to.Phytoplankton blooms in the Bering Sea appear when ice melts early or later in the season as sunlight increases.
The Southern Ocean that surrounds Antarctica is one of the most productive areas on Earth, but only during the Antarctic summer--a few months around December each year--when abundant sunlight provides the perfect conditions.
Phytoplankton let us breathe The phytoplankton of Casey. These little guys are called diatoms because they have cell walls made entirely of silica, just like a tiny green house!
Pier is a PhD student at the University of Tasmania and affiliated with the Antarctic Climate and Ecosystem Cooperative Research Center (ACE CRC). Delphine is a. Phytoplankton Response to Osmotic Stress in Western Antarctic Peninsula: a modeling approach | The increase of global average air and ocean temperatures has become a major concern for scientists.
Composition and biomass of phytoplankton assemblages in coastal Antarctic waters: a comparison of chemotaxonomic and microscopic analyses. The Palmer Long-Term Ecological Research program has sampled waters of the western Antarctic Peninsula (wAP) annually each summer since However, information about the wAP prior to the peak of the phytoplankton bloom in January is sparse.
The climate of the western shelf of the Antarctic Peninsula (WAP) is undergoing a transition from a cold-dry polar-type climate to a warm-humid sub-Antarctic–type climate. Using three decades of satellite and field data, we document that ocean biological productivity, inferred from chlorophyll a concentration (Chl a), has significantly .Download