Elaboration of a proposal for the designation of a Marine Protected Area in the Weddell Sea

Research vessel "Polarstern" in the ice sea (copyright Alfred-Wegener-Institut/Mario Hoppmann)
Research vessel "Polarstern" in the ice sea (Photo: Alfred Wegener Institut)

The project, funded by the German Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture (Ref: 2813HS009), provides the scientific basis for identifying potential conservation areas in the Weddell Sea, Antarctica.

We systematically gather all available ecological data sets from zooplankton to zoobenthos, fish, birds and mammals, and relate them to a range of relevant, remotely sensed environmental variables, such as sea ice concentration data.

Spatial prediction maps are produced using diverse modelling approaches and geographic information systems to obtain a representation of each species’ habitats or feeding grounds. Finally, the identification and evaluation of potential CCAMLR-conservation areas in the Weddell Sea are accomplished by means of conservation planning software.

Identification of biogeochemical provinces in the Southern Ocean: spatial modeling of geochemical, sedimentological and biological data

Sea ice
Sea ice (Photo: Alfred Wegener Institut)

Biogeochemical provinces are regions with relatively consistent or characteristic biogeochemical conditions, e.g. oxygen conditions or carbon fluxes.

The project funded by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG SSP1158) identifies those provinces by means of geostatistical and multivariate modeling based on geo-referenced data. They allow us to better detect biological and geochemical processes and to quantify and analyse their future change in models.

The extensive data, which were acquired within both projects, serve as a profound basis for future work inter alia focusing on the variability of ecosystem function in space and time. The better understanding of Antarctic ecosystem resilience and stability under changing conditions is one of the issues that play a prominent role in the Helmholtz research program PACES II.