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Effects of Climate change in Polar Shallow benthic Ecosystems

This project will be conducted at King George, South Shetland Islands, Antarctica. The small spatial and time scale research will be carried out at Potter Cove (62° 14' S, 58° 39' W) an inlet tributary of Maxwell Bay, where the Argentinean Antarctic station Jubany and the German-Argentinean Dallmann Laboratory are located (Fig. 1). Potter cove can be divided into an outer and an inner part. The outer cove has an area of about 3 km2 and is bordered by steep slopes down to 100 m to the north and by a broad intertidal platform to the southwest. Hard bottoms and macroalgae dominate this area. The inner cove has an area of 1.5 km2, is covered by muddy and sandy sediments and is no deeper than 50 m. While formation of pack-ice is highly variable, great amounts of terrigenous particles are carried into the cove. These fine sediments (which turn the water colour brown), stem from riverine input of glacial melt water, and are then dispersed through the water column by winds (Fig. 2). Characteristic of the inner cove is the re-suspension, also caused by winds, of the fine bottom material. The frequent eastern gales create an upwelling effect which drags the bottom material into the water column, thus, sediment in the water column persists throughout the ice free months. The combination of physical factors affecting both the radiation penetrating the water column and the depth of vertical turbulent mixing are responsible for the low phytoplankton concentration in Potter Cove, compared with other localities. The resident zooplankton community of Potter Cove is not very diverse and dominated by small copepod species, been often affected by the entrance of external species as Antarctic krill and salps. Ascidians are the dominant macrobenthic fauna at 20 m depth, while pennatulids and the bivalve Laternula elliptica are the most abundant macrobenthic fauna at shallower depths. A dense macroalgae community attached on hard substrate dominates the mouth of the Cove and the glacier front . All these studies conducted since 1994 in Potter Cove offer an excellent baseline for the objectives proposed in this project. The large spatial scale approach will be perfomed at different areas in Maxwell Bay, one of the two big fjords of King George Island.

 

Check out the actual weather conditions at Potter Cove, Jubany with the Jubany web cam.