Short Name:

Pilot Study: Addition of Biological Sampling to Drake Passage Transits of the "L.M. Gould"

A 50+ year warming trend in the Southern Ocean has been most dramatic in Drake Passage and likely impacts ecosystem structure here. Acoustic Doppler Current Profiler (ADCP) records from multiple "L.M. Gould" supply transits of Drake Passage from 1999 to present demonstrate spatial and temporal variability in acoustics backscattering. Acoustics backscattering strength in the upper water column corresponds to zooplankton and nekton biomass that supports predator populations. However, for much of Drake Passage the identity of taxa contributing to this acoustically detected biomass is not known. This project would introduce a biological component to "L.M. Gould" transits of Drake Passage with the goal of determining the identity of taxa responsible for the backscattering records obtained by ADCP and relating these to higher trophic levels (seabird/marine mammal). Net sampling during spring, summer and fall transits will permit assessment of diel and seasonal changes in the abundance and taxonomic composition of zooplankton and top predators represented between Patagonia and the Antarctic Peninsula. Net samples and depth-referenced video records taken in conjunction with ADCP profiles will permit the identification of the dominant acoustic backscatters in the 3 biogeographic regions represented here, the Subantarctic, Polar Frontal, and Antarctic Zones. The validity of dominant backscattering taxa in the Antarctic Zone will be tested by comparing the ADCP records with abundant zooplankton data collected off the Antarctic Peninsula during January-March 1999-2009 as well with long-term top predator surveys. The broader impacts also include a cruise blog, the production of an article for an online outreach publication based at Moss Landing Marine Labs and a YouTube video featuring shipboard research in the Southern Ocean.

Map of Earth