Ocean Station Obama!!!
Even down here in the Southern Ocean - 10,000 miles from home we are celebrating the inauguration of President Obama. With the appointment of scientists (rather than the political appointments of the Bush-era) such as Stephen Chu (DOE) and Jane Lubchenco (NOAA) to head government agencies responsible for funding scientific research, Barack Obama has shown leadership in bringing science-based reality back into the executive branch. Leadership such as this will help usher in the support for science and engineering that will be needed to solve the energy and climate crises facing our nation and world.
In recognition of the emphasis on science the President-elect has thus far exhibited, we are celebrating the inauguration of President Obama by dedicating our current sampling station to him. Process study, Ocean Station Obama is located in the middle of Margurite Bay along the Western Antarctic Peninsula on the front lines of climate change research (more info at the end of the post).
For our part, Rutgers University will be deploying our autonomous underwater vehicle, RU05, midday on Monday. The glider will provide insight into the particles being captured by a sediment-trap drifter deployed by Ken Buesseler. For the deployment, RU05 has been renamed RUObama. RUObama will survey the water at the process station down to a depth of 100 meters, allowing a three dimensional perspective of the water surrounding Station Obama. Data from the glider deployment can be found here.
The following is a description of Process Study Ocean Station Obama that was written by the principal investigators on the cruise. They are Doug Martinson (Lamont-Doherty), Hugh Ducklow (Marine Biological Lab, Woods Hole), Oscar Schofield (Rutgers University), Debbie Steinberg (Virginia Institute of Marine Science) and guest investigator Ken Buesseler (Woods Hole).
Process Study Ocean Station Obama
Scientists and students in the Palmer, Antarctica Long Term Ecological Research Project (PAL-LTER) aboard the Antarctic Research and Supply Vessel (ARSV) Laurence M Gould are moving into their oceanographic process study region in Marguerite Bay immediately south of Adelaide Island, in the eastern Bellingshausen Sea (~67 deg 46 S, 68 deg 51 W). The 3-day process study in this area will take place 19-21 January. In celebration of the US Presidential Inauguration, the science team has named the site Ocean Station Obama.
The 3-day study is part of the 17th annual PAL-LTER 7-week oceanographic expedition. Since 1993, these cruises in the Austral summer have surveyed a 200 x 500 km study region along the western Antarctic Peninsula. Their overall objective is understanding the geophysical and ecological relations among climate, sea ice and the marine pelagic ecosystem in the region. The western Antarctic Peninsula has warmed in winter by 6ºC since 1950, causing a 90-day reduction in sea ice cover since 1978. The marine ecosystem is responding at all levels of the food chain from phytoplankton to penguins and seals.
Individual locations where samples are conducted are referred to as oceanographic stations. Oceanographers name such stations to facilitate future identification. During Ocean Station Obama, PAL-LTER will be conducting a special process study with 2 objectives: 1) to characterize physical/biological processes related to Adelie penguin foraging in the area, and 2) to investigate processes resulting in storage of atmospheric CO2 in the water column as organic carbon produced through marine biological activity (the Biological Pump).
Over 3 days scientists will conduct repeated sampling with electronic water samplers, zooplankton nets, submersible pumps and optical sensors. The ship will follow a freely-drifting array that collects particles settling through the water column. They will also deploy an undersea glider equipped with oceanographic sensors to profile the study region in greater detail.
The study area is in the southern part of the PAL-LTER survey region and has been the focus of repeated studies since the mid-1990’s. In particular, the Adelie penguin colony on Avian Island has been studied for comparison with the one near Palmer Station that has declined by 80% since 1975 in response to climate warming. PAL scientists hypothesize from comparison of their north (Palmer Station) and south (Avian Island) sites that the regional climate warming is migrating from north to south along the Peninsula.
Members of the 2009 PAL Expedition are excited to celebrate the Inauguration of President Obama and in doing so, bringing ocean sciences and climate change research to the public's attention. The setting our study, 10,000 miles from Washington DC, in an area of rapidly changing climate and ecology is an appropriate spot and moment in our history to dedicate this sampling station to the events taking place on Tuesday. PAL-LTER is part of the US Long Term Ecological Research Network. The PAL-LTER and ARSV LM GOULD are supported by grants from the Antarctic Organisms and Ecosystems Program, National Science Foundation Office of Polar Programs. Logistics support is provided by Raytheon Polar Services Corp. The LM GOULD is owned and operated by Edison Chouest Offshore.