Collaborative Research: Management and Implementation of US GEOTRACES GP17 Section: South Pacific and Southern Ocean (GP17-OCE)
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This award will support the management and implementation of a research expedition from Tahiti to Chile that will enable sampling for a broad suite of trace elements and isotopes (TEI) across oceanographic regions of importance to global nutrient and carbon cycling as part of the U.S. GEOTRACES program. GEOTRACES is a global effort in the field of Chemical Oceanography, the goal of which is to understand the distributions of trace elements and their isotopes in the ocean. Determining the distributions of these elements and isotopes will increase understanding of processes that shape their distributions, such as ocean currents and material fluxes, and also the processes that depend on these elements, such as the growth of phytoplankton and the support of ocean ecosystems. The proposed cruise will cross the South Pacific Gyre, the Antarctic Circumpolar Current, iron-limited Antarctic waters, and the Chilean margin. In combination with a proposed companion GEOTRACES expedition on a research icebreaker (GP17-ANT) that will be joined by two overlapping stations, the team of investigators will create an ocean section from the ocean?s most nutrient-poor waters to its highly-productive Antarctic polar region ? a region that plays an outsized role in modulating the global carbon cycle. The expedition will support and provide management infrastructure for additional participating science projects focused on measuring specific external fluxes and internal cycling of TEIs along this section. The South Pacific Gyre and Pacific sector of the Southern Ocean play critical roles in global water mass circulation and associated global transfer of heat, carbon, and nutrients, but they are chronically understudied for TEIs due to their remote locale. These are regions of strong, dynamic fronts where sub-surface water masses upwell and subduct, and biological and chemical processes in these zones determine nutrient stoichiometries and tracer concentrations in waters exported to lower latitudes. The Pacific sector represents an end member of extremely low external TEI surface fluxes and thus an important region to constrain inputs from the rapidly-changing Antarctic continent. Compared to other ocean basins, TEI cycling in these regions is thought to be dominated by internal cycling processes such as biological uptake, regeneration, and scavenging, and these are poorly represented in global ocean models.........