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Satellites And Ocean Models Used to Explain Antarctic Seafloor Biodiversity

Source: Phys.org/University of Tasmania - December 15, 2017 in Science/Tech

Satellites And Ocean Models Used to Explain Antarctic Seafloor Biodiversity
Photo: Vincent van Zeijst/Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 3.0)

In a world-first, a research team of Australian and international scientists has used data collected by satellites and an ocean model to explain and predict biodiversity on the Antarctic seafloor.

The researchers combined satellite images of phytoplankton colour on the sea surface with a suite of connected models of how the microscopic phytoplankton are swept by  currents, sink to the seafloor and are then redistributed across it, to accurately predict the extent of seafloor life without the need for extensive physical sampling.

The study’s lead author, IMAS PhD student Jan Jansen, said the breakthrough, published in the prestigious journal Nature Ecology & Evolution, would support better conservation and management of  in the Antarctic.

“For the first time, we are able to predict how much food is available to organisms on the Antarctic sea floor, and therefore how much life is supported across the region,” Mr Jansen said.

“Scientists have long known that there was a relationship between organic matter on the surface and life on the sea floor.”

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