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FjordPhyto: Antarctic Citizen Science Project

  • Author(s): Lee Cusick, Allison
  • et al.
Abstract

The FjordPhyto Citizen Science project is designed to engage the International Association of Antarctic Tour Operators and their Guests in hands-on science as they journey along the fjords of the west Antarctic Peninsula. The Antarctic Peninsula is one of the fastest warming regions in the world. Melting glaciers bring an influx of freshwater and nutrients into the fjords potentially altering the biology at the phytoplankton level. Phytoplankton play a critical role in regulating the atmosphere, drawing carbon dioxide into the ocean and producing over half the Earth’s oxygen. These microscopic drifting plants make up the foundation of the food system supporting whales, seals, and penguins. FjordPhyto aims to understand how glacial meltwater impacts phytoplankton communities among various fjords throughout the austral summer. Visitors will collect phytoplankton samples and photograph images using simple-to-operate tools. Equipment and educational material will be provided by the FjordPhyto research team as outlined in this Capstone Project. Citizen Science is a powerful tool bringing travelers and scientists together to answer critical science questions. FjordPhyto provides a fun and easy way to involve visitors in the legacy of research in Antarctica, while providing scientists with data that greatly expands the current knowledge of Antarctic fjord ecosystems.

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