International Polar Year Cluster Projects

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Arctic Region led by Census of Marine Life’s Arctic Ocean Diversity Project (ArcOD)

Arctic Ocean Diversity Census of Marine Life (Cluster lead): ArcOD is inventorying biodiversity in the Arctic sea ice, water column and sea floor from the shallow shelves to the deep basins using a three-level approach: compilation of existing data, taxonomic identification of existing samples, and new collections focusing on taxonomic and regional gaps.

Western Arctic Marine Fish Museum Records, New Collections, Taxonomic Studies, and Atlas: This project is resolving problematic taxonomy, improving accuracy of fish identifications, and determining historical and current geographic ranges of Arctic marine fishes.

Our Polar Heritage: This project is providing a transversal photographic view of the importance of the scientific research in the Arctic and the Antarctic in the hopes of increasing public awareness of and interest in such research.

Synoptic Pan-Arctic Climate and Environment Study (SPACE): This project is surveying key Arctic areas for ocean and ice parameters, with the biodiversity portion focusing on zooplankton distribution.

Arctic and Antarctic Fjord Biodiversity Inventory (AATBI): This project is compiling a taxonomic list of all marine multi-cellular organisms inhabiting two polar fjords, which will be used to compare the patterns of diversity in the two polar regions and provide a proxy for studies on changing polar biodiversity.

Alaska Arctic and Bering Sea Coastal Alaska Monitoring and Assessment Program (AKMAP): Projects are undertaking a multidisciplinary research effort to quantify spatial and temporal changes in Alaska’s Arctic Coastal Ecosystems to provide a baseline for long-term assessment of the status and trends of significant estuarine and coastal resources.

The Arctic Arena of the Ocean Tracking Network (OTN): The OTN will monitor movements of marine species that are tagged with individually coded, active-acoustic telemetry tags and collect physical oceanographic data on temperatures, salinity and currents at key locations in the Arctic.  The information provided is crucial to understanding how animals interact in the present ocean environment and help predict how future changes might affect them.

The Circumpolar Flaw Lead system (CFL): This study examines the importance of climate processes which are changing the nature of the flaw lead system that is formed when the central pack ice moves away from coastal fast ice, and the effect these changes have on marine ecosystem processes, carbon fluxes, and the exchange of greenhouses gases across the ocean-sea ice-atmosphere interface. The ArcOD-related activity focuses on microbial diversity.

Marine Mammal Exploration of the Oceans – Pole to Pole (MEOP):
This project is deploying state-of-the-art animal-borne CTD (Conductivity-Temperature-Depth) tags on   deep-diving hooded seals to explore their current movement patterns, behaviour and habitat utilization in the Arctic region.

Pan-Arctic Tracking of Beluga Whales (PATOB):
This project is outfitting beluga whales with satellite transmitters as they undergo their annual migration. The data transmitted is providing a circumpolar baseline for understanding regional resilience of belugas to the impacts of climate change.

Study of the Arctic benthic and pelagic biota:
This study is investigating the composition, distribution and ecology of bottom and plankton organisms occupying the Arctic basin and adjacent seas to gain a better understanding of what lives where in the Arctic Ocean as a basis for a monitoring program.

Canada’s 3 Oceans: Canada’sThree Oceans is observing North Pacific, Arctic, and North Atlantic waters to establish a scientific basis for sustainable, long-term monitoring. The ArcOD-related project investigates microbial biodiversity.

Biogeography, energetics and trophic level of Arctic cephalopods: This project is describing the historic and present biogeography of Arctic cephalopods, where they fall in the food web, and how much energy they require to make a living.

Geologic Constraints to Benthic Ecosystems:
This is an investigation of ecologic “hotspots” or areas of potential biological activity on the seafloor of the Northwest Passage in the Canadian Arctic, which are of particular interest due to their association with possible greenhouse gas emissions, potential hydrocarbons at depth, geohazards, and presence of unique biota.

Antarctic Region led by Census of Marine Life’s Census of Antarctic Marine Life Project (CAML)

Census of Antarctic Marine Life (Cluster lead) (CAML): CAML provided rich data on the state of diversity of marine life around Antarctica, which will serve as a benchmark for tracking future change in the Antarctic marine environment. It addressed basic ecological and evolutionary questions concerning speciation in Antarctic waters, and the interactions between species distribution and ocean currents. CAML revealed many species new to science and established a network of comprehensive Antarctic marine biodiversity databases.

Role of Antarctica and the Southern Ocean in Past, Present and Future Climate:
A strategy for the International Polar Year 2007-2008 (Climate in Antarctica and the Southern Ocean (CASO) adopted an integrated and interdisciplinary approach to understanding the role of Antarctica and the Southern Ocean in the past, present and future climate. It leaves a legacy of a targeted, affordable, sustained observing system that relies heavily on autonomous instruments to provide long time-series from remote and inaccessible locations.

ANDEEP-SYSTCO (ANtarctic benthic DEEP-sea biodiversity: colonisation history and recent community patterns - SYSTem COupling)  (ANDEEP-SYSTCO): ANDEEP-SYSTCO built  on the international and interdisciplinary investigations begun during ANDEEP I-III and added novel, innovative aspects to polar biological research by involving scientists from different disciplines, such as atmospheric sciences, climatology, hydrography, planktology, physical oceanography, geophysics, geology, sedimentology, bathymetry etc. to shed light on atmospheric-pelagic-benthic coupling processes.  It used  innovative technology such as modern satellites, very fine-meshed plankton samplers, novel sea-bed landers, ROVs, and plankton suctors  to  train a new generation of polar scientists. 

International CCAMLR 2008 synoptic survey of krill , pelagic fish and plankton biomass and biodiversity in the South Atlantic (Area 48)  (CCAMLR - 2008 Survey): 
This study described the environmental status of the Antarctic pelagic marine environment and the status of key components of the pelagic food web of the South Atlantic by a synoptic set of multidisciplinary observations, and also contributed to quantifying the present natural environmental change in the pelagic ecosystem of the Atlantic sector of the Antarctic based on earlier comparable large scale studies.

Cenozoic bryozoans in West Antarctica - taxonomy, biogeography and evolution  (Cenozoic bryozoans):    Bryozoans form a diverse component of the fossil biota in marine and glacio-marine Cenozoic sedimentary rocks of West Antarctica and are a major part of the marine benthic community over large areas of the Antarctic continental shelf. This project added to and established new data on the evolution of the bryozoan Cenozoic biota.

Internationally coordinated studies on Antarctic environmental status, biodiversity and ecosystems. 

Environmental, Biological, and Ecological Studies in Antarctica (EBESA): Antarctic regions are the ultimate sinks of most volatile contaminants. This project worked to improve knowledge of the sensitivity and responses of Antarctic organisms and ecosystems to climate change and their ability to adapt to such will be useful in predicting the effects of change in Antarctica and on a global scale.
Seasonality of the Drake Passage pelagic ecosystem: Biodiversity, food webs, environmental change and human impact. Present and Past  (DRAKE BIOSEAS): This project provided an integrated qualitative-quantitative view of the communities and their functioning within the oceanic ecosystems of the Drake Passage, mainly during winter. The information gathered during the assessment of the spatial-temporal variability along 2007-2008 is in a database that will serve for the future monitoring of the area.

Biological and functional diversity of microbial communities in ecologically distinct polar environments.
This project added more information to current databases about natural prokaryote and eukaryote communities in selected polar sites. Descriptive data of the study sites was documented and correlated with the biological diversity to derive the functional role of these microbial communities. Changes in these communities, over short to medium timescales, were identified and linked with environmental parameters.

Effects Of Isolation On The Genetic Biodiversity Of Shallow Coastal Benthic Communities In Antarctica. 
  On all continents other than Antarctica, animals restricted to shallow waters can disperse continuously along shelves over long distances. Around Antarctica littoral areas not covered by ice-shelf are scarce and highly isolated. This project compiled information on the phylogeny and the geographical distribution of these shallow coastal marine benthics that provided clues to the possible cause of speciation, which will be used to help establish in guidelines for marine protected areas in Antarctica.

Antarctic Marine Mammal Ecology using Passive Acoustic Monitoring - Marine Mammal Passive Acoustic Monitoring (MMPAM): Baleen whales were heavily harvested in the Antarctic during the first half of the 20th century. Estimates are that over a million blue and fin whales also were taken during this period.  This project made the first comprehensive assessment of marine mammal presence in the Antarctic region using passive acoustic monitoring.

Winter algal communities: year-round phytoplankton studies at Palmer Station (Pal-Flow).
Sampling year-round extended and complemented existing studies on summer populations in the Western Antarctic Peninsula, which is undergoing rapid climate change, in particular warming of winter air temperatures. Results from this study are helping to predict the composition of biological communities if the winter sea ice continues to recede and in response to El Nino events.

Comparative Studies Of Gentoo Populations (GOSGEN) The main aim of this study was to reach a better understanding of the evolutionary history and genetic diversity of Gentoo penguins (Pygoscelis papua). Analysis of  this gene pool in subsequent generations of the same populations will give new ideas about prediction of possible changes under selection and changes following climate and/or food resources changes in polar regions.

SCAR-MarBIN: the information dimension of Antarctic Marine Biodiversity (SCAR-MarBIN). SCAR-MarBIN supports the Antarctic science community by giving free and open access to an unprecedented mass of data relevant to understand Southern Ocean biodiversity. SCAR-MarBIN leaves a valuable legacy for future generations, in the form of an information tool that will provide a baseline reference for establishing a State of Antarctic Environment, and predicting the future for marine communities around Antarctica, which are currently facing global change.

Study of Antarctic Sea Ice Ecosystems (SASIE) Until recently, knowledge about the Antarctic sea ice ecology was based mainly on observations conducted in coastal regions but little was known about physical, chemical and biological processes in the ice-covered Southern Ocean (SO) during the winter period. This project advanced the fundamental knowledge of the composition, structure and function of Antarctic sea ice ecosystems and understanding of the reciprocal feedback of sea ice biology to the climate in the Southern Ocean.

The coastal and shelf ecosystem of Maritime Antarctica (Admiralty Bay, King George Island) (CSEMA) Variability is one of the characteristic features of Antarctic geo-ecosystems.  This project quantified the current state of Admiralty Bay area and environmental and biological changes that occurred there during the last 30 years.

A study, using Autosub, of the influence of sea ice and sea-ice algae on the winter distribution and abundance of Antarctic krill off East Antarctica  (Antarctic krill and sea ice). This project deployed the Autosub autonomous underwater vehicle under sea ice off East Antarctica in September 2007 (Austral winter) to gather data to address the hypothesis that the regional distribution and abundance of Antarctic krill in winter is influenced by the extent of sea ice. It used cutting-edge technology to make urgently required interdisciplinary observations in the Southern Ocean that provided for a better assessment of the role of sea ice and circulation patterns on the biological productivity in the Southern Ocean. 

Polar Microbial Observatories in Antarctic and Sub-Antarctic coastal zones (POLMICROBS)
Bacteria represent one of the most important compartments at the basis of all food webs in marine ecosystems. They respond clearly to environmental changes, and participate in all biogeochemical cycles. This project investigated the short- and long-term variations of structure and functioning of Antarctica and Sub-Antarctica coastal ecosystems, by identifying microorganisms responsible for key steps in the carbon cycle. The development of such“Microbial Observatories” provided synoptic views of modern environmental status that will enhance observational network for annual time series measurements in these coastal zones for years to come.

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