Impacts of deglaciation on benthic marine ecosystems in Antarctica

Lead Research Organisation: University of Exeter
Department Name: Geography

Abstract

Environmental changes due to ice loss and deglaciation disturbances will significantly impact Antarctic ecosystems at different levels of biological complexity and spatio-temporal scales. At the lower level of biological organization, changes in key environmental parameters, such as temperature, salinity, productivity and turbidity, may have significant effects on important fitness traits such as growth, survival and fecundity of individuals. These effects may percolate to higher levels of organization such as population and community levels. Thus, lower growth, higher mortality rates and lower fecundity may affect the demographic dynamics of local populations. In addition, at a community scale, in a stressed environment some species may become locally extinct or they may be outcompeted by stronger competitors due to a decrease in individual performance. Alternatively, pioneer species with weak competition abilities would dominate highly perturbed sites. In this way, ice loss and disturbance from deglaciation may promote changes in species diversity and community structure at different directions and spatial scales, moving communities to alternate stable states. Over a longer time scale, all these ecological effects have consequences on an evolutionary scale in determining genetic diversity and gene flow, which may reduce the evolutionary potential of species. Under this scenario, this project aims to investigate the impacts of physical
disturbance arising from climate-warming induced deglaciation on benthic communities around the West Antarctic Peninsula. We adopt a multidisciplinary approach across nested scales from individual to ecosystem level, and from an ecological to evolutionary scale, evaluating genetic, physiological, population, community and ecosystem impacts of this perturbation. In addition, we use sclerochronology to develop biological proxies for reconstructing long-term and short-term environmental changes in Antarctica.

Planned Impact

The impact focus of this project will entail collaborative activities organised both in Chile and in the UK. The impact can be categorised as follows:

1. International collaboration. This project will enable the inception of a synergistic collaboration between the Chilean
and British teams in Antarctic research. This interaction will allow the researchers to explore new approaches
and use different methodological tools, not only for the study of Antarctic ecosystems but also to be used in general ecological
problems.
2. Scientific production. We expect, during the three years of the research collaboration, to generate at least 6 ISI publications
in high impact scientific journals in the areas of polar science, marine ecology, environmental science; many of these
publications with be co-authored by researchers, students and postdocs from the different institutions.
3. Meeting presentations. At least 8 congress presentations (in national and at international meetings) will be presented;
many of them with the participation of students and postdocs.
4. Seminars for postgraduate students. At least one seminar in each sponsoring institution with participation of researchers from both teams will be organized for
postgraduate students and the academic staff preferentially during years 2 and 3. In Chile and in the UK, either Bangor
or BAS, Cambridge. Seminars will be focused on the effects of global warming on Antarctic coastal ecosystems. The main
results of the project will be presented at Bangor University and the Universidad Catolica de la Ssma. Concepción.
Responsible investigators from both teams will be in charge of the organization of seminars.
5.Public conferences. At least two conferences for general public and children will be organized, in each responsible institution, to focus on the
effect of global warming on coastal ecosystems with reference to Antarctic susceptibility to this change. One of the
conferences will be presented to the general public and the other one will be targeted towards primary level students.
Responsible investigators from both teams will be in charge for the organization of these activities in their own countries.
6. Students and postdoctoral training. The project will support the theses of at least 3 undergraduate and postgraduate
students and will favor 2 postdoctoral training for the three years.
7. Job opportunities. The project considers the inclusion of at least 3 technicians or research assistants for laboratory and
fieldwork.

Publications

10 25 50
 
Title Rare Earth 
Description Environment and Sustainability Institute, University of Exeter, Creative Exchange Programme: October 2019-October 2020: Rare Earth (collaboration with artists Bridget Rosebery and Katrina Slack): https://www.rareearthexhibition.co.uk/exhibition 
Type Of Art Artistic/Creative Exhibition 
Year Produced 2020 
Impact This was an online exhibition and plans are now afoot for a physical exhibition once Covid-19 restrictions allow. 
 
Title Rare Earth Exhibition 
Description Physical exhibition arising from the Rare Earth Creative Exchange Project 
Type Of Art Artistic/Creative Exhibition 
Year Produced 2022 
Impact Requests for further information 
URL https://www.artsandcultureexeter.co.uk/news/rare-earth-an-exhibition-showcasing-a-collaboration-betw...
 
Description Benthic communities in rapidly deglaciating contexts identified for the first time. The potential of these deglaciating systems as natural sequesters of carbon as ice recedes recognised. Blue carbon sequestration in these systems an order of magnitude greater than previously recognised. New data obtained on feedback processes between the ocean and ice sheet in rapidly deglaciating fjords.

During the final cruise on the RRS James Clark Ross we serendipitously were present during a major ice collapse of the William Glacier in Borgen Bay, Anvers Island. We have as a result documented hitherto unknown feedback processes in which ocean mixing is strongly increased by internal wave tsunamigenesis. This is more important than wind or tidal mixing in deglaciating contexts.
Exploitation Route see also http://icebergsjcr.blogspot.co.uk
Sectors Education,Environment

URL https://twitter.com/icebergs_jcr?lang=en
 
Description Extensive coverage in social media during research cruises in Antarctica. Cruise in 2019-2020 embedded Sky News team who delivered multiple live broadcasts, blogs and will be making a documentary later in 2020.
First Year Of Impact 2017
Sector Education,Environment
Impact Types Cultural,Societal

 
Description CASS
Amount £4,000 (GBP)
Organisation Natural Environment Research Council 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 11/2017 
End 01/2018
 
Description CASS-177
Amount £4,000 (GBP)
Funding ID CASS-177 
Organisation Natural Environment Research Council 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 11/2020 
End 02/2021
 
Description CASS-179 AEROBICS
Amount £4,000 (GBP)
Funding ID CASS-179 
Organisation Natural Environment Research Council 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 11/2020 
End 02/2021
 
Description May 2022: £484,220 from Convex Blue Marine Foundation for Convex Blue Seascape Survey (total grant £8,036,016 with £5,832,645 to University of Exeter) (with C. Roberts, University of Exeter).
Amount £8,035,016 (GBP)
Organisation Blue Marine Foundation 
Sector Charity/Non Profit
Country United Kingdom
Start 05/2022 
End 04/2027
 
Description NERC CASS Award
Amount £4,000 (GBP)
Organisation Natural Environment Research Council 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 11/2018 
End 01/2019
 
Description NERC CASS Award
Amount £4,000 (GBP)
Organisation Natural Environment Research Council 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 11/2018 
End 01/2019
 
Description NERC CASS Award
Amount £4,000 (GBP)
Organisation Natural Environment Research Council 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 11/2018 
End 01/2019
 
Title Seafloor bathymetry of Sheldon Cove, Börgen Bay and Marian Cove, merged and gridded from EM122 multibeam echosounder data collected for the project NE/P003087/1 (2017-2020) 
Description We present three new gridded bathymetric compilations of Sheldon Cove, Börgen Bay and Marian Cove. These bathymetry grids were compiled from EM122 multibeam swath bathymetry data acquired during three different cruises (RRS James Clark Ross JR17001, JR18003 and JR19002 cruises also known as NERC-ICEBERGS cruises) from 2017 to 2020. The data is available as grids of 5 m resolution in NetCDF and GeoTIFF formats using geographic coordinates on the WGS84 datum. This grid was compiled as part of the ICEBERGS (Impacts of deglaciation on bentic marine ecosystems in Antarctica) project. Funding was provided by the NERC grant NE/P003087/1. 
Type Of Material Database/Collection of data 
Year Produced 2021 
Provided To Others? Yes  
URL https://data.bas.ac.uk/full-record.php?id=GB/NERC/BAS/PDC/01511
 
Description Calibration of environmental proxies across deglaciating margins 
Organisation University Centre in Svalbard
Country Norway 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Provided opportunity for field sampling in Antarctica
Collaborator Contribution Influenced sampling strategy, collected samples and generated new datasets
Impact None yet
Start Year 2017
 
Description Geochemistry of Antarctic bivalves 
Organisation University of Tokyo
Country Japan 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Provided opportunity for field sampling in Antarctic fjords
Collaborator Contribution Collected samples and will generate geochemical data in due course
Impact None yet
Start Year 2018
 
Description Microplastics in Antarctic fjords 
Organisation University of West Florida
Country United States 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution The NERC project provided logistic support and opportunity for Antarctic field sampling
Collaborator Contribution Generated new data reported in The Conversation.
Impact Article in The Conversation
Start Year 2017
 
Description Evening talk to general public 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Evening lecture at St Clement Parish Hall, Truro, Cornwall given by James Scourse and Alejandro Roman Gonzalez
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Evening talk to local community 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Evening talk in village on the past and future impacts of climate change
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2022
 
Description Interactive engagement with primary school children during research cruise 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact Interactive satellite phone engagement with children at Fox Primary School, Tooting, London
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Interview for online media 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Press Conference (on Zoom) for the G7 Summit Earth System Advisory Panel on "What can G7 leaders do for the ocean, nature and climate"
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2021
 
Description Invited named lecture 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Undergraduate students
Results and Impact The 2019 Emery-Addison Lecture at St Peter's College, University of Oxford
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description Invited talk 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Evening talk to the South-West branch of the Royal Geographical Society
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020
 
Description Lunchtime lecture given by James Scourse and Alejandro Roman Gonzalez 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Talk given as part of the "Access our Science" series at University of Exeter (Penryn)
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description Poster presentation at joint Plymouth Marine Laboratory - University of Exeter Research Day (Alejandro Roman Gonzalez) 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Poster presentation
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Presentation at EGU Conference, Vienna 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Conference presentation at large international meeting
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2022
 
Description Presentation to primary school children and interactive engagement during research cruise 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact Initial presentation at San Sior School Llandudno followed by satellite phone interactive sessions during Antarctic research cruise.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description Public Lecture 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact 'Rapid deglaciation in west Antarctica: drivers and impacts' to the Royal Geographical Society (South West Group), University of Exeter (Penryn Campus).
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020
 
Description Radio blogpost interview by Alejandro Roman Gonzalez 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Radio interview for University of Exeter media outlet with associated blogpost
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Seminar 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Lecture entitled 'The ICEBERGS Project' as a Quick Fire Talk (lunchtime) at the British Antarctic Survey, Cambridge.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020
 
Description Two undergraduate presentations (by Alejandro Roman Gonzalez) 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Undergraduate students
Results and Impact Oral presentations to undergraduate teaching programme
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description Web article 
Form Of Engagement Activity Engagement focused website, blog or social media channel
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Artivle in The Conversation on microplastics in Antarctic fjords
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
URL http://theconversation.com/pristine-antarctic-fjords-contain-similar-levels-of-microplastics-to-open...
 
Description Zoom Presentation for the Exeter Summit 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact Zoom presentation to the Exeter Summit (Conference for Sixth Form and College students ahead of Glasgow COP meeting) entitled 'Saving the Earth system: geoengineering solutions'.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2021