Project

Back to overview

SOGate: Phytoplankton ecosystem control of the Southern Ocean biogeochemical gate

Applicant Gruber Nicolas
Number 153452
Funding scheme Project funding (Div. I-III)
Research institution Institut für Biogeochemie und Schadstoffdynamik ETH Zürich
Institution of higher education ETH Zurich - ETHZ
Main discipline Oceanography
Start/End 01.09.2014 - 31.08.2017
Approved amount 280'657.00
Show all

All Disciplines (2)

Discipline
Oceanography
Other disciplines of Environmental Sciences

Keywords (10)

Phytoplankton Ecosystem; Southern Ocean Biogeochemical Gate; Coccolithophores; Ocean Stratification; Diatoms; Southern Ocean; Climate Change; Ocean Biogeochemistry; Ocean Acidification; CO2

Lay Summary (German)

Lead
Das Südpolarmeer spielt global eine wichtige Rolle beim Austausch von Kohlenstoff und anderen biogeochemischen Elementen zwischen den kalten Tiefen- und den wärmeren Oberflächenwasserschichten sowie beim Austausch von CO2 mit der Atmosphäre. Phytoplankton wandelt durch Photosynthese inorganische in organische Materie um und ist so massgeblich für die CO2-Aufnahme des Ozeans verantwortlich. Zwei wichtige Planktongruppen, die Silikat-produzierenden Diatomeen und die Kalziumcarbonat-produzierenden Coccolithophoren dominieren die polnahen südlichen Breiten. Die biologischen Kontrollen dieser Lebensräume, ihre Störanfälligkeit und mögliche Gefährdung durch Klimawandel und Ozeanversauerung, sowie daraus entstehende mögliche Konsequenzen für globale biogeochemische Kreisläufe sind bisher unbekannt.
Lay summary

Inhalt und Ziel des Forschungsprojekts:

In diesem Projekt werden ein Ozeanökosystemmodell des Südpolarmeers sowie Beobachtungen von Plankton verwendet, um entscheidende Einflüsse auf Verbreitung und Umweltbeziehungen von Coccolithophoren und Diatomeen zu identifizieren und den Effekt des Klimawandels im 21. Jahrhundert auf diese Planktongruppen im Südpolarmeer zu quantifizieren. Damit lassen sich mögliche Konsequenzen von Veränderungen dieser Lebensbereiche auf die Aufnahme von atmosphärischem CO2 und die globalen Stoffkreisläufe abschätzen.

Wissenschaftlicher und gesellschaftlicher Kontext des Forschungsprojekts:

Der fortschreitende Klimawandel ist allgegenwärtig und betrifft auch marine Ökosysteme in den noch weitgehend unbekannten und schwer zugänglichen Regionen des Südpolarmeers, mit bisher unbekannten Konsequenzen für die marine Flora und Fauna. Das Projekt erweitert unser Verständnis von marinen Ökosystemen in den hohen Breiten und deren Dynamik und ökologischer Struktur. Es wird uns Informationen über mögliche Feedbacks zwischen Ökosystemprozessen im südlichen Ozean und den globalen biogeochemischen Kreisläufen liefern. Beides ist essentiell für die Abschätzung möglicher Risiken des Klimawandels auf das System Mensch-Umwelt.

Direct link to Lay Summary Last update: 05.09.2014

Responsible applicant and co-applicants

Employees

Publications

Publication
Obtaining Phytoplankton Diversity from Ocean Color: A Scientific Roadmap for Future Development
Bracher Astrid, Bouman Heather A., Brewin Robert J. W., Bricaud Annick, Brotas Vanda, Ciotti Aurea M., Clementson Lesley, Devred Emmanuel, Di Cicco Annalisa, Dutkiewicz Stephanie, Hardman-Mountford Nick J., Hickman Anna E., Hieronymi Martin, Hirata Takafumi, Losa Svetlana N., Mouw Colleen B., Organelli Emanuele, Raitsos Dionysios E., Uitz Julia, Vogt Meike, Wolanin Aleksandra (2017), Obtaining Phytoplankton Diversity from Ocean Color: A Scientific Roadmap for Future Development, in Frontiers in Marine Science, 4, 1-15.
Colour and Light in the Ocean (CLEO) 2016: A Scientific Roadmap from the CLEO Workshop Organised by ESA and PML
Vichi Marcello, Sathyendranath Shubha, Vogt Meike, et al. (2017), Colour and Light in the Ocean (CLEO) 2016: A Scientific Roadmap from the CLEO Workshop Organised by ESA and PML.
Phaeocystis in the Southern Ocean
Ferrari Gianna (2017), Phaeocystis in the Southern Ocean.
A global seasonal surface ocean climatology of phytoplankton types based on CHEMTAX analysis of HPLC pigments
Swan Chantal M., Vogt Meike, Gruber Nicolas, Laufkoetter Charlotte (2016), A global seasonal surface ocean climatology of phytoplankton types based on CHEMTAX analysis of HPLC pigments, in Deep Sea Research Part I: Oceanographic Research Papers, 109, 137-156.
Statistical Analysis of Global Phytoplankton Biogeography in Mechanistic Models and Observations
Brandenberg Julia (2015), Statistical Analysis of Global Phytoplankton Biogeography in Mechanistic Models and Observations, Master Thesis, D-USYS, ETH Zürich, Zürich.
Supplement to: 'A global seasonal surface ocean climatology of phytoplankton types based on CHEMTAX analysis of HPLC pigments', Dataset #855412
Swan C. Vogt M. Gruber N. Laufkoetter C. (2015), Supplement to: 'A global seasonal surface ocean climatology of phytoplankton types based on CHEMTAX analysis of HPLC pigments', Dataset #855412.
Variability in the elemental stoichiometry of marine phytoplankton in relation to community structure
Aschwanden Mathias (2015), Variability in the elemental stoichiometry of marine phytoplankton in relation to community structure.

Collaboration

Group / person Country
Types of collaboration
University of California at Los Angeles United States of America (North America)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
Princeton University United States of America (North America)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Exchange of personnel
Prof. R. Simó, Institut de Ciencies del Mar, Barcelona Spain (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
- Exchange of personnel
Dr. N. Nelson, Earth Research Institute, University of California at Santa Barbara United States of America (North America)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Research Infrastructure
Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution United States of America (North America)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
Dr. S. Alvain, Laboratoire d'Océanologie et de Géosciences, CNRS France (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Research Infrastructure
Prof. B. Quéguiner, Aix-Marseille University/Mediterranean Institute of Oceanography France (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
K. Krumhardt & Prof. N. Lovenduski, INSTAAR, University of Colorado, Boulder United States of America (North America)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
Prof. A. Bracher, Alfred-Wegener-Institut, Bremerhaven Germany (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
Prof. C. Le Quéré, University of East Anglia Great Britain and Northern Ireland (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication

Scientific events

Active participation

Title Type of contribution Title of article or contribution Date Place Persons involved
3rd Workshop on trait-based approaches to ocean life Talk given at a conference Patterns and uncertainties in global ocean diatom biomass 20.08.2017 Bergen, Norway Swan Chantal; Vogt Meike;
Colour and Light in the Ocean from Earth Observations Workshop, ESA-ESRIN Talk given at a conference Towards a 4-dimensional ocean color field for ocean biogeochemistry and climate studies 06.08.2017 Frascati, Italy Swan Chantal; Vogt Meike; Nissen Cara; Gruber Nicolas;
XIITH SCAR biology symposium Talk given at a conference Biotic versus abiotic controls on Southern Ocean coccolithophore biogeography 10.07.2017 Leuven, Belgium Gruber Nicolas; Vogt Meike; Nissen Cara;
University of Exeter Seminar Series, Lenton Group Individual talk What have we learnt from the 2013 MAREDAT initiative? 08.07.2017 University of Exeter, Great Britain and Northern Ireland Gruber Nicolas; Vogt Meike; Swan Chantal;
Green Ocean Workshop 2017 Talk given at a conference What have we learnt from the 2013 MAREDAT initiative? 05.07.2017 virtuelle Konferenz, Great Britain and Northern Ireland Gruber Nicolas; Swan Chantal; Vogt Meike;
5th Margalef Summer Symposium: Spatial and temporal patterns in physical-biological oceanic processes: from scale interaction to the rise of the living ocean Talk given at a conference The turbulent Ocean: On the role of eddies for biogeochemistry, productivity and the atmosphere 03.07.2017 Barcelona, Spain Gruber Nicolas;
Advances in Marine Ecosystem Modelling Research 2017 Talk given at a conference Factors controlling Southern Ocean coccolithophore biogeography – a modeling approach 03.07.2017 Plymouth, Great Britain and Northern Ireland Gruber Nicolas; Nissen Cara; Vogt Meike;
EuroMarine PlankBios Workshop 2017 Talk given at a conference Phytoplankton biomass in the global ocean: Comparison of optical and abundance-based diatom biomass estimates 12.06.2017 San Sebastian, Spain Swan Chantal; Gruber Nicolas; Vogt Meike;
Advances in Marine Ecosystem Modelling Research 2017 Talk given at a conference Are current data sets sufficient for the identification of plankton diversity shifts? 03.06.2017 Plymouth, Great Britain and Northern Ireland Vogt Meike;
EGU 2017 Talk given at a conference The Southern Ocean in a changing climate: open-ocean physical and biogeochemical processes 23.04.2017 Vienna, Austria Vogt Meike; Nissen Cara; Gruber Nicolas;
10th IBP PhD Congress Poster Controlling Factors of Southern Ocean Coccolithophore Biogeography 21.04.2017 Zürich, Switzerland Vogt Meike; Nissen Cara; Gruber Nicolas;
Swiss Global Change Day 2017 Poster Controlling Factors of Southern Ocean Coccolithophore Biogeography 11.04.2017 Bern, Switzerland Vogt Meike; Gruber Nicolas; Nissen Cara;
Swiss Climate Summer School 2016 Talk given at a conference Warming up, turning sour, losing breath, starving for food: How much is the ocean at risk? 28.08.2016 Grindelwald, Switzerland Gruber Nicolas;
C-Cascades Summer School Talk given at a conference Ocean upwelling: A tale of two regions 22.08.2016 Peyresc, France Gruber Nicolas;
PALEOGENiE Summer School Poster Southern Ocean coccolithophore biogeography 13.07.2016 Bristol, Great Britain and Northern Ireland Gruber Nicolas; Nissen Cara; Vogt Meike;
Swiss Global Change Day 2016 Poster Controlling Factors of Coccolithophore Biogeography in a Regional Model of the Southern Ocean 12.04.2016 Bern, Switzerland Gruber Nicolas; Vogt Meike; Nissen Cara;
9th IBP PhD Congress Individual talk Mastering life at sea: Impressions from my first research cruise 01.04.2016 Zürich, Switzerland Gruber Nicolas; Nissen Cara; Vogt Meike;
Euro Marine PlankDiv Workshop 2016 Talk given at a conference Phytoplankton biomass: Patterns, drivers & uncertainties 14.03.2016 Villefranche-sur-Mer, France Swan Chantal; Vogt Meike; Gruber Nicolas;
3rd Ramon Margalef Summer Colloquia "Patterns and processes in boundary marine ecosystems" Individual talk Southern Ocean Coccolithophore Biogeography 06.07.2015 Barcelona, Spain Vogt Meike; Gruber Nicolas; Nissen Cara;
1. ETHZ D-USYS Conference Talk given at a conference Present and future global marine phytoplankton biogeography in a changing world 01.06.2015 Davos, Switzerland Vogt Meike; Gruber Nicolas;
8th IBP PhD Congress Poster Southern Ocean Coccoclithophore Biogeography: Controlling factors and implications for biogeochemistry 10.04.2015 Zürich, Switzerland Vogt Meike; Gruber Nicolas; Nissen Cara;
Swiss Global Change Day 2015 Poster Southern Ocean Coccolithophore Biogeography: Controlling factors and implications for biogeochemistry 01.04.2015 Bern, Switzerland Nissen Cara; Gruber Nicolas; Vogt Meike;


Self-organised

Title Date Place
EuroMarine PlankBios Workshop 2017 21.06.2017 San Sebastian, Spain
Euro Marine PlankDiv Workshop 2016 14.03.2016 Villefranche-sur-Mer, France

Knowledge transfer events

Active participation

Title Type of contribution Date Place Persons involved
Nachhaltigkeitswoche Talk 09.03.2017 Zürich, Switzerland Gruber Nicolas;
Science City: Wie lange reicht das Wasser noch? Talk 25.10.2015 Zürich, Switzerland Gruber Nicolas;


Self-organised

Title Date Place
Scientifica: Booth on CO2 05.09.2015 ETH Zürich, Switzerland

Communication with the public

Communication Title Media Place Year
Media relations: print media, online media Das marine Schwungrad des Erdklimas NZZ German-speaking Switzerland 2016
Media relations: radio, television Die Farben der Ozeane Oe1, ORF International 2016
New media (web, blogs, podcasts, news feeds etc.) US GO-SHIP 2016 IO8S Blog International 2016

Awards

Title Year
Poster Award, 10th IBP PhD Congress 2017

Associated projects

Number Title Start Funding scheme
175787 X-EBUS: Extreme Ocean Weather Events and their Role for Ocean Biogeochemistry and Ecosystems in Eastern Boundary Upwelling Systems 01.09.2018 Project funding (Div. I-III)

Abstract

The Southern Ocean acts as a biogeochemical gatekeeper that governs the exchange of carbon and other biogeochemically important elements such as nitrogen and silicon between the “cold” (mostly deep) and the “warm” (mostly upper) parts of the ocean. It thereby controls not only the large-scale oceanic distribution of these elements and hence ocean productivity, but also the ocean-atmosphere partition of CO2 and hence climate. The phytoplankton community in this nexus is key in determining the operation of this biogeochemical gate. Of particular relevance is the diatom dominated belt of biogenic silica (opal) production in the Subantarctic to Antarctic zone, where iron limited growth leads to a rapid exhaustion of silicic acid, causing this nutrient to be “trapped” in the cold ocean. This is not the case for nitrate, which leaks out into the warm ocean to fuel primary production at low latitudes. North of this silica belt, a large pan-Southern Ocean belt of calcite production is presumed to exist, likely dominated by coccolithophores. It is neither well known nor understood what controls these belts and their distinct phytoplankton ecosystems, and what the biogeochemical consequences are in terms of export of carbon and ballasting materials (opal and calcite). Furthermore, current global coupled physical-ecological models fail to represent these distinct zonal differences in ecosystem structure. This poses a particularly severe shortcoming when considering that these phytoplankton groups are susceptible to future global change (warming, changing circulation, ocean acidification). This strongly limits our ability to predict how the Southern Ocean biogeochemical gate will operate in the future, with important repercussions on global biogeochemical cycles and climate. Herein, we propose to investigate the structure and activity of the marine phytoplankton ecosystem in the Southern Ocean with a particular emphasis on developing a quantitative understanding of its role in controlling the Southern Ocean biogeochemical gate at present and in the future. To this end, we combine empirical analyses of existing phytoplankton community observations based on direct enumeration, pigment analyses, and biogeochemical properties with simulation results from an eddy-resolving regional coupled ocean physical, biogeochemical, ecological model for the Southern Ocean. More specifically, we plan to use the recently completed MAREDAT data compilation together with other data to establish a robust observationally based synthesis of the phytoplankton ecosystem structure in the Southern Ocean. We will further exploit a large suite of ancillary and co-located data to uncover the relationships between nutrient supply, phytoplankton community composition, and export. We will subsequently explore the potential mechanistic drivers of the discovered linkages using a newly developed Southern Ocean setup of the Regional Oceanic Modeling system (ROMS) to which we have coupled the Biogeochemical Elemental Cycling Model (BEC) and which we will extend by including an explicit representation of coccolithophores.The use of a regional model permits us to employ a higher resolution compared to a global model, which is needed in order to fully resolve the mesoscale eddies that are so critical in this region. Through a series of perturbation simulations for the present-day, as well as time-window simulations for the future under a high CO2 scenario, we will explore the sensitivity of the plankton ecosystems to these perturbations, testing our hypothesis of strong floral shifts.
-