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Ocean currents speed up movement of krill to South Georgia

Krill (Euphausia superba) are small, shrimp-like animals that grow up to about 6 cm in length and live for up to 5 years. Krill usually live in dense swarms which may have more than 10,000
Krill (Euphausia superba) are small, shrimp-like animals that grow up to about 6 cm in length and live for up to 5 years. Krill usually live in dense swarms which may have more than 10,000

Presentation summary for the IPY Science Conference 2010 in Oslo by Angelika Renner

An International Polar Year field experiment provided the basis for a new model to track the transportation of Antarctic krill — the major food source for penguins, whales and seals – around the Southern Ocean.

Modelling suggests that changes in surface currents of the Southern Ocean near the Antarctic Peninsula are linked to the winds around Antarctica. Crucial components of the Antarctic food chain — *phytoplankton, *zooplankton and krill (a shrimp-like invertebrate), are transported by ocean currents. It is likely that Antarctic winds have an impact on the ecosystem in the Weddell and Scotia Seas.

Scientists created a computer model to track the transport of krill (from the tip of the Antarctic Peninsula into the Bellingshausen Sea over 43 years from 1960–2002. They found that the surface currents were speeding up the transport of krill to the sub-Antarctic Island of South Georgia. These changes can be linked to changes in the force of the wind, suggesting a link to human-induced climate change. Faster transports of krill to South Georgia can influence the ecosystem by reducing the age and size of the Antarctic krill near the island. Since krill is a major food source for many predators, a reduction in the mass of krill can heavily impact on the bird and marine mammal populations around South Georgia and in the Scotia Sea.

Session information

Speaker:
Angelika Renner

Contact:
Mobile: +44 (0) 7731 114921
Email: ahh.renner@gmail.com

Tuesday 8 June @ 10.45
Session: T3-8

Definitions

Phytoplankton
microscopic floating aquatic plants
Zooplankton
microscopic floating animals