Discovering Antarctica's Invisible ForestNovember 2 2018
Hiding within the icy waters of Antartica are a group of creatures so diverse, yet so small, you need a microscope to truly appreciate their wonder. This "Invisible Forest" -full of plant-like phytoplankton - provide food to all other animals living within fjords along the Antarctic Peninsula. This is one of the fastest warming regions in the world, and researchers have partnered with tourists in a citizen science effort to understand how this diverse community is responding to freshwater input from melting glaciers.
It has been a busy year in the Vernet Lab at Scripps Institution of Oceanography, UC San Diego. Graduate student Allison Cusick and Dr. Maria Vernet have put together kits of science gear to hand out to tour operators visiting the Antarctic Peninsula. During the months of November - March, passengers visiting the region participate in the FjordPhyto citizen science project to collect phytoplankton samples that will allow researchers to better understand how these microscopic organisms are responding to melted glacial water in these rapidly changing polar regions.
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