16th September 2014 | Posted by: Admin |
Fig.1 Antarctic Continent. Map source: mappery.com
Continued warming of the maritime Antarctic is leading to expansive areas of snow and ice becoming increasingly biologically active, resulting in an increased flux of microorganisms and nutrients from icy habitats to the marine environment. We aim to assess climate forcing on biogeochemical activity in snow and ice-bound ecosystems in the maritime Antarctic and to estimate nutrient and biomass export by glacier meltwater into terrestrial habitats and coastal waters.
We place a special interest into the Ice-bound habitats in Antarctica because they most likely dominate the impact of biological activity upon the terrestrial CO2 budget, enhance local melting and greatly modify the transfer of nutrients to marine ecosystems by meltwater run-off. Despite this, our understanding of the biology of Antarctica's largest and most fragile terrestrial habitat, ice, is currently very limited.
Furthermore, glacially derived nutrient and biomass export into Antarctic coastal waters has a potential to influence their iron limited primary production. Our work shows that melting glaciers are sources of bioavailable iron following the biological and physical weathering of glacial sediments. Furthermore, the iron produced by weathering also interacts with organic matter en route to the sea, which increases its solubility and availability to phytoplankton.