Center for Coastal Physical Oceanography &
Mitigation and Adaptation Research Institute

Fall 2015 Seminar Series


Patricia Yager
University of Georgia

Monday, September 21, 2015
3:30 PM
Conference Center, Innovation Resarch Building II
4211 Monarch Way, Norfolk, VA 23508


The Amundsen Sea hosts the most productive polynya in all of coastal Antarctica, with its vibrant green waters visible from satellites. Despite being about as far as you can get from human civilization, it is also one of the global regions most vulnerable to climate change, experiencing rapid losses in both sea ice cover and the nearby western Antarctic ice sheet. Here I will report on the results from the Amundsen Sea Polynya International Research Expedition (ASPIRE) that investigated the processes responsible for this high productivity and the fate of the bloom, with an eye towards predicting how this system will respond to further change. A new Special Feature in the journal, Elementa, ( is the first full-team effort to report individual findings and synthesize our results into a complete picture of this extraordinary ecosystem. Currently there are 10 papers published and 4 more in progress. We show a tight connection between the melting ice sheet and the provision of iron to support the phytoplankton productivity. Carbon budgets show the region to be an extraordinary CO2 sink from the atmosphere. Another key variable, however, is the changing seasonal sea ice, which is also important to the ecosystem function. Computer simulations (numerical models) are needed to tease apart the net impact of these two interacting climate sensitivities. It remains to be seen whether an increase in the rate of melting predicted for the ice sheet will increase delivery of iron to the polynya and increase phytoplankton productivity and carbon sequestration. A synthesis and modeling collaboration ("INSPIRE") began this year with oceanographers from ODU.


Dr. Patricia L. Yager earned her Ph.D. from the University of Washington and is an Associate Professor at the University of Georgia, Department of Marine Science. Her research investigates how climate and climate-driven processes affect marine biota. She focuses especially on the climate-sensitive carbon cycling that may feedback to climate change by altering the amount of CO2 taken up by the ocean. Her work has led her to study the Arctic, the Antarctic, and the Amazon River plume ecosystems. As the primary agents for carbon and nutrient cycling, marine microorganisms are the focus of her research and her approach straddles both biological and chemical oceanography, with measurements and modeling of microbial activity and the ocean's carbonate system.

Reception before seminar at 3:00 PM

Old Dominion University Homepage CCPO
Innovation Research Park Building I
4111 Monarch Way, 3rd Floor
Old Dominion University
Norfolk, VA 23508
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Updated on 09/09/2015.
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