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DISCOVERY 2010 Research Programme

See Also

The Discovery 2010: integrating Southern Ocean ecosystems into the Earth System research programme, part of the British Antarctic Survey research strategy Global Science in an Antarctic Context (GSAC) 2005–2009


Discovery 2010: integrating Southern Ocean ecosystems into the Earth System

Principal Investigator: Dr Eugene Murphy

The Challenge

DISCOVERY 2010 will investigate and describe the response of an ocean ecosystem to climate variability, climate change and commercial exploitation. The programme builds on past studies by BAS on the detailed nature of the South Georgia marine ecosystem and its links with the large-scale physical and biological behaviour of the Southern Ocean.

The aim is to identify, quantify and model key interactions and processes on scales that range from microscopic life forms to higher predators (penguins, albatrosses, seals and whales), and from the local to the circumpolar.

Dr Kate Barlow checking breeding success rates of Macaroni Penguins

Objectives

  • Assess the links between the status of local marine food webs and variability and change in the Southern Ocean
  • Develop a linked set of ecosystem models applying relevant marine physics and biology over scales from the local to that of the entire Southern Ocean

Relevance to Global Science

Ocean ecosystems play a crucial role in maintaining biodiversity, in depositing carbon into the deep ocean, and as a source of protein for humans. However, fishing and climate change are having significant and often detrimental effects. To predict the future state of ocean ecosystems we must develop computer models capable of simulating biological and physical processes on a range of scales from the local to an entire ocean. Developing such predictive models is crucial to the sustainable management of world fisheries and requires integrated analyses of the way whole ecosystems work. DISCOVERY 2010 aims to take this work forward and at the same time help manage the South Georgia and South Sandwich Islands maritime zone. We will do this through providing information on the state of the ecosystem to the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR), the international body that manages sustainable fishing in the Southern Ocean.

Delivering the Results

DISCOVERY 2010 will undertake an integrated programme of shipboard and land-based field studies of the marine food web, combined with modelling. We will pay particular attention to critical phases in the life cycles of key species, and to examining interactive effects in food webs. Interacting biological and physical processes will be modelled across a range of spatial scales to significantly improve our representation of the ocean ecosystem, upon which sustainable management and the prediction of future climate change can be based. DISCOVERY 2010 will link to BIOFLAME, ACES, and COMPLEXITY, two international programmes, and to a collaborative programme with the University of East Anglia on the role of the Southern Ocean in the global carbon cycle.

Component Projects