|Enlarge ImageSatellite image of the Southern Ocean, including the Ross Sea. Pink areas indicate ice coverage. The blue area within the ice is the polyna (open area within the ice) within the Ross Sea, our destination. This polyna forms annually in the spring of the Southern Hemisphere (~October-November).
|Enlarge ImageA microscope image of the phytoplanton species Phaeocystis antarctica.
|Enlarge ImageThe Research Vessel N.B. Palmer that will be used for the CORSACS cruise.
CORSACS II Cruise successfully completed!The Nathaniel B. Palmer safely docked back in Christchurch, New Zealand on December 15, 2006 at the end of a successful cruise to the Ross Sea. Please visit these web pages over the next few weeks as we upload more photos, videos and information about the cruise.
A Research Cruise to the Ross Sea to Study What Controls the Phytoplankton Dynamics
From November 1st to December 16th 2006, a team of
scientists from universities and research institutions from around the
world will return to the Ross Sea near the continent of Antarctica. The
Ross Sea is teeming with small plants, known as algae.Globally, the
algae that live in surface ocean are a major part of the cycling of
carbon on Earth, because as algae grow they photosynthesize and use
carbon dioxide to grow. Hence, just as we are concerned about the loss
of forests on the continents and its implications for climate change,
studying what controls the growth of these algae in the oceans is just
as important in understanding how carbon cycles on Earth.This team of
scientists is exploring the ecological struggle between two major
groups of algae: Diatoms and Phaeocystis. They have
hypothesized that these groups of algae have different nutritional
preferences, and that changes in the nutrient chemistry of the seawater
where the algae live will influence this ecological struggle - allowing
one group to outcompete the other.The nutrients the team will focus on
include a number of elements that all biology needs to survive
including: carbon, nitrogen, phosphorus, iron, and cobalt. To achieve
these scientific goals, the team includes biological oceanographers and
chemical oceanographers who will study the algal biology and the
seawater chemistry, and the research cruise has been named CORSACS: Controls on Ross Sea Algal Community Structure.
We visited the Ross Sea last year and have also archived last year's
cruise outreach website. That research cruise occurred between
December 17th 2005 to January 27th 2006, also
aboard the N.B. Palmer. We thank people for visiting last year's
site, we were pleased to have interacted with a number of students and
schools, as well has having more than 10,000 unique website visitors. Click here to see last year's archive.