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CORSACS: Controls on Ross Sea Algal Community Structure
2005: A Research Cruise to the Ross Sea to Study What Controls the Phytoplankton Dynamics

From December 17th 2005 to January 27th 2006, a team of scientists from universities and research institutions from around the world explored the ecosystem of 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. Explore the links below for more information.

Chief Scientist's Log

Life at Sea

Technology and Instrumentation

Questions from Visitors and Answers from Scientist Aboard the Research Vessel Palmer