Temperature is rising in the West Antarctic. The Amundsen Sea, at the center of the region, is the drainage basin of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet. This area is experiencing a rapid loss of glacier and sea ice, attributed to changes in the ocean circulation and regional climate. Marine ecosystems and biogeochemical cycles are under the impact of the rapid warming as well. As such, this area may offer an insight into how rapid climate change may influence less susceptible regions.
The KOPRI Amundsen Project, launched in mid 2010 with the commissioning of the IBRV Araon, aims to understand regional climate change mechanisms in the West Antarctic and how the ecosystem and biogeochemical cycles are influenced under this dynamic climatic regime.
As implied in its research goal, the Amundsen project is a multidisciplinary program under which a variety of research modules are interwoven synergistically together, such as: ocean circulation and heat flux studies; atmospheric and marine chemistry of gases and trace elements; and biological processes and production. Research groups from domestic universities and national institutes participate in these diverse research modules. Not only is the program multidisciplinary, but multinational components were also built in via tight collaborations with: Rutgers University (Falkowski, Gorbunov, Scohfield); University Gothenberg (Wahlin); and the British Antarctic Survey (Nicholls, Jenkins). These have been associated since the beginning of the program, with additional collaborations expected to also join in the coming years.
The Amundsen project began its second phase in 2013, with the third phase scheduled to begin in 2016.
Phase one of the study was designed to understand the basic oceanographic context and the structure and functioning of the ecosystem.
Phase two of the study is directed to more specific issues, such as (but not limited to): the balance of mass and heat; features of specific biological and biochemical processes; and behaviour of certain trace elements. We have conducted three field expeditions so far and anticipate the fourth in the 2015/2016 season (see the figure above for the study area and stations; lines in 3 different colors indicate the cruise tracks of the 3 field expeditions onboard the IBRV Araon).
In 2014, French and US research groups joined the program in order to expand our physical oceanographic studies from the Udintsev fracture zone in the Antarctic Circumpolar Current in the north, to the Amundsen Sea in the south. A Norwegian group reinforces our mooring network in the Amundsen continental shelf area. The Amundsen project and our joint efforts produce valuable data (visit here for data archive of KOPRI) and numerous novel, high quality publications.
The 'KOPRI Amundsen Project' is KOPRI's first commitment to the international Earth observation network for long-term monitoring in the Southern Ocean on global climate issues.
The Amundsen project acknowledges sponsorship from KOPRI, as well as the valuable contributions from each and every individual involved in the project.
For more information please contact SangHoon Lee, the Lead PI.
shlee at kopri dot re dot kr