THE EFFECTS OF GLOBAL CLIMATE CHANGE UNDER THE MICROSCOPE
The Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO), has funded three polar research initiatives of senior ROYAL NIOZ scientists within the context of the Netherlands Polar Programme (NPP). All projects focus on unravelling the effects of global climate change on chemical and ecological dynamics in the sensitive polar regions. The good news? We will soon start recruiting postdocs and PhD students to help investigate the Antarctic and the Arctic with us.
Polar marine microorganisms (bacteria and phytoplankton) form the base of the foodweb and play a vital role in global biogeochemical cycles, says prof. dr. Corina Brussaard, microbiologist at the department of Marine Microbiology and Biogeochemistry (MMB) and PI of the project ‘Polar Marine Viral Diversity and Dynamics’ (POMVIDDY).
‘Marine viruses infect the abundant algae and bacteria, and as such affect the functioning of biodiversity and ecosystems. Considering viral infection being host-specific, and climate change inducing shifts in microbial species composition both in the Arctic and the Antarctic, it is critical to know the identity of these viruses and relate it to their activity.’
In the second NWO-funded NIOZ-project ‘Iron limitation and viral lysis, phytoplankton caught between a rock and a hard place’, the focus is on unravelling the link between the concentrations and availability of Antarctic bio-essential metals and viral lysis.
We are interested in understanding how global warming attributes to the supply of iron (Fe) in the Antarctic marine ecosystem, says chemical oceanographer dr. Rob Middag.
‘In the Antarctic ocean, the growth of algae is often limited by the solubility and availability of iron, which in turn is influenced by temperature, the microbial community and type of mortality. How does a warming climate influence these complex interactions?’
How the quickly warming Arctic affects the development of new-born red knots in the first months after birth is the primary research focus of the third NIOZ research project: ‘Body Shrinkage: investigating Arctic warming-induced body shrinkage of long-distance migrants’.
‘The causes of body shrinkage, taking place in the Arctic during the neonatal development, are completely not touched upon. In this project, we aim to experimentally investigate the causes of body shrinkage in red knot chicks at their High-Arctic breeding grounds,’ says dr. Jan van Gils, biologist and PI. ‘As body shrinkage often precedes a population collapse, there is an urgent need to understand body shrinkage, insights which may be used when designing conservation programs.’