GOPR0349

Dr Tommy Ryan-Keogh onboard the Akademik Treshnikov

A SOCCO led research team recently completed the first leg of a unique circumnavigation expedition around Antarctica, ACE (Antarctic Circumnavigation Expedition). The team set sail from Cape Town on the 20th December 2016 before arriving in Hobart, Tasmania on the 19th January 2017. This expedition is unique because of the 22 research projects onboard, spanning research topics from plastics in the oceans to the invasion of pests on sub-Antarctic islands. Researchers have come from countries and research institutions spread across all the continents to participate in the first complete circumnavigation expedition since the original explorers discovered Antarctica.

ACE cruise track

ACE cruise track

The SOCCO research project focused measuring phytoplankton abundance and composition within the Southern Ocean, which exerts a pivotal influence on global climate and oceanic production. The primary method for measuring phytoplankton abundance and oceanic production is though the estimate of a biomass proxy, chlorophyll. This can be done through the measurement of ocean colour with the use satellites. Over much of the ocean, these estimates are reliable and long-term studies can be carried out to determine if shifts are occurring due to environmental changes. However, there are large errors in chlorophyll estimates in the Southern Ocean owing to the lack of observational data.

IMG_1798

Hazel Little and Nina Schuback sampling from the CTD rosette.

 

 

 

 

To remedy this problem and to further address our knowledge gaps in how satellites can accurately measure chlorophyll, this project aims to:

  1. Build up a consistent data set of bio-optical and biogeochemical measurements from the Southern Ocean.
  2. Develop new algorithms utilizing this data and other historical data from the Southern Ocean to identify the sources of error and biases.
  3. Apply this new algorithm to decadal long data sets to determine if environmental influences are changing the Southern Ocean.

 

The expedition is the first that South African scientists and any bio-optical measurements will be made around the entire continent of Antarctica. This presented the research team with unique and novel challenges to operate and maintain a wide range of equipment on the research vessel Akademic Treshnikov. From rough weather, to fixing faulty instruments and working long hours ensuring the data collected is of a high quality is worth the effort when you get to visit all the sub-Antarctic islands and witness the Southern Lights, aurora australis.

Team Bio-Optics on Leg 1 of the ACE cruise.

Team Bio-Optics on Leg 1 of the ACE cruise getting ready to set sail from Cape Town. From left to right: William, David, Tommy, Hazel and Nina.

The team compromising Nina Schuback (Curtin University), William Moutier (CSIR), David Berliner (CSIR/UCT) and Hazel Little (CSIR/UCT) are now sailing from Tasmania to Chile. Along the way they will visit the Antarctic continent and the sub-Antarctic islands bordering the Pacific Ocean, before finally returning to Cape Town in the middle of March.

To find out more about ACE

Follow @ACE_Expedition on Twitter. 

GOPR0349

Dr Tommy Ryan-Keogh onboard the Akademik Treshnikov

A SOCCO led research team recently completed the first leg of a unique circumnavigation expedition around Antarctica, ACE (Antarctic Circumnavigation Expedition). The team set sail from Cape Town on the 20th December 2016 before arriving in Hobart, Tasmania on the 19th January 2017. This expedition is unique because of the 22 research projects onboard, spanning research topics from plastics in the oceans to the invasion of pests on sub-Antarctic islands. Researchers have come from countries and research institutions spread across all the continents to participate in the first complete circumnavigation expedition since the original explorers discovered Antarctica.

ACE cruise track

ACE cruise track

The SOCCO research project focused measuring phytoplankton abundance and composition within the Southern Ocean, which exerts a pivotal influence on global climate and oceanic production. The primary method for measuring phytoplankton abundance and oceanic production is though the estimate of a biomass proxy, chlorophyll. This can be done through the measurement of ocean colour with the use satellites. Over much of the ocean, these estimates are reliable and long-term studies can be carried out to determine if shifts are occurring due to environmental changes. However, there are large errors in chlorophyll estimates in the Southern Ocean owing to the lack of observational data.

IMG_1798

Hazel Little and Nina Schuback sampling from the CTD rosette.

 

 

 

 

To remedy this problem and to further address our knowledge gaps in how satellites can accurately measure chlorophyll, this project aims to:

  1. Build up a consistent data set of bio-optical and biogeochemical measurements from the Southern Ocean.
  2. Develop new algorithms utilizing this data and other historical data from the Southern Ocean to identify the sources of error and biases.
  3. Apply this new algorithm to decadal long data sets to determine if environmental influences are changing the Southern Ocean.

 

The expedition is the first that South African scientists and any bio-optical measurements will be made around the entire continent of Antarctica. This presented the research team with unique and novel challenges to operate and maintain a wide range of equipment on the research vessel Akademic Treshnikov. From rough weather, to fixing faulty instruments and working long hours ensuring the data collected is of a high quality is worth the effort when you get to visit all the sub-Antarctic islands and witness the Southern Lights, aurora australis.

Team Bio-Optics on Leg 1 of the ACE cruise.

Team Bio-Optics on Leg 1 of the ACE cruise getting ready to set sail from Cape Town. From left to right: William, David, Tommy, Hazel and Nina.

The team compromising Nina Schuback (Curtin University), William Moutier (CSIR), David Berliner (CSIR/UCT) and Hazel Little (CSIR/UCT) are now sailing from Tasmania to Chile. Along the way they will visit the Antarctic continent and the sub-Antarctic islands bordering the Pacific Ocean, before finally returning to Cape Town in the middle of March.

To find out more about ACE

Follow @ACE_Expedition on Twitter. 

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