Arctic Field Projects

Project Title: Collaborative Research: Quantifying microbial controls on the annual cycle of methane and oxygen within the ultraoligotrophic Central Arctic during MOSAiC (Award# 1821900)

PI: Loose, Brice (
Phone: (508) 289.1356 
Institute/Department: U of Rhode Island, Chemical Oceanography 
IPY Project?
Funding Agency: US\Federal\NSF\GEO\OPP\ARC\ARCSS
Program Manager: Dr. Gregory Anderson ( )
Discipline(s): | Oceanography |

Project Web Site(s):

Science Summary:
The central Arctic Ocean is changing rapidly as multiyear sea ice gives way to a new seasonal sea ice regime, and these regional shifts have important implications for global climate as well as the entire Arctic system. As part of the Multidisciplinary drifting Observatory for the Study of Arctic Climate (MOSAiC), the investigators will use a research vessel frozen into polar ice as a sampling platform to focus on the influence of sea ice on the uptake and release of oxygen and methane across a full annual cycle. Combined with other observations made by MOSAiC collaborators, these data will allow the investigators to build a detailed conceptual model of carbon and energy flow across seasons and improve numerical models explaining the behavior of the broader Arctic system. In addition, they will use genomic techniques to gain a new understanding of microbial dynamics and diversity in this understudied region. The broader impacts of this work include support for early-career scientists, significant international collaboration as part of the MOSAiC program, and training for postdoctoral scientists and undergraduate students. Public outreach will include viewings of the Northwest Polar Passage documentary Frozen Obsession in San Diego, CA, and Providence, RI, followed by panel discussions on polar exploration, ecology, and change. The goal of this project is to identify the biological and physical drivers underlying the production and uptake of oxygen and methane, establishing the metabolic balance of these key gases in the oligotrophic Central Arctic. The investigators will take advantage of the unique opportunity afforded by the international, year-long Multidisciplinary drifting Observatory for the Study of Arctic Climate (MOSAiC) expedition to determine net community production from year-round measurements of oxygen and argon, as well as methane oxidation and production from methane concentration and isotopic ratios. They will measure bacterial and community respiration, bacterial production, and microbial community structure, and analyze gene expression to identify the genes, organisms, and pathways associated with methane production in the surface ocean. Results will be used to model the oceanic methane cycle using the MITgcm Arctic Regional Model and improve the biogeochemical components of the Regional Arctic System Model (RASM).

Logistics Summary:
This collaborative project between Bowman (1821911, LEAD, UCSD) and Loose (1821900, URI) will focus on quantifying microbial controls on the annual cycle of methane and oxygen within the ultraoligotrophic Central Arctic during MOSAiC . Over the course of the cruise, one researcher per leg will engage in the following activities: • Weekly sea ice cores collected from the MOSAiC Central Observatory (near ship) for sea ice estimates of methane oxidation, and methane production from top, middle, and bottom ice horizons • Weekly water column sampling, which will occur as close to sea ice sampling as logistically feasible to best associate sea ice and water column processes. • Some ship-based laboratory work. • Researchers will assist other MOSAiC researchers as needed. The RV Polarstern will depart from Tromso, Norway and, once it reaches its destination, will spend the next year drifting through the Arctic Ocean, trapped in the ice. During the set-up phase, the RV Polarstern will enter the Siberian sector of the Arctic in thin sea ice conditions in late summer. A distributed regional network of observational sites will be set up on the sea ice in an area of up to ~50km from the RV Polarstern. The ship and the surrounding network will drift with the natural ice across the polar cap towards the Atlantic, while the sea ice thickens during winter. The research teams will join the expedition for several months at a time (aka legs) as the expedition will change crews and be supplied by other icebreakers and aircraft throughout the year. There will be six legs of the expedition and a total of 23 NSF awards in support of the MOSAiC effort. During Leg 1, there will be two ships involved and some of the participants will travel to/from the R/V Polarstern via the escort vessel Akademik Federov (Leg 1a). For more information on the MOSAiC expedition, go to Logistics details under 1821911.

SeasonField SiteDate InDate Out#People
2019Arctic Ocean and Seas - Arctic Ocean0
2020Arctic Ocean and Seas - Arctic Ocean0

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