Scientists find ‘rich biodiversity’ beneath a broken iceberg, see pictures

Polarstern has seized the opportunity into the area between the iceberg that broke away from the Antarctic ice sheet in a process known as ‘calving’ and the Brunt Ice Shelf. Between the 490 square mile iceberg (A74), about the size of the county of Bedfordshire in the UK, polar bears were caught to discover the flora and fauna, and the rich biodiversity of the area. ground. The results and first images of marine life under the A74 were released by the Alfred Wegener Institute, Helmholtz Center for Polar and Marine Research (AWI). the research vessel collected the sediment samples for more detailed views of the ecosystem.

According to the AWI, the huge iceberg known as the A74 landed from the Brunt Ice Shelf in Antarctica on February 26, 2021, was not the cause of climate change. Scientists, however, have studied the nutrient content and seawater flow of the A74 in the vast area of ​​1270 square kilometers.

“The only research vessel on site is the German research breaker Polarstern, which has successfully penetrated the gap between the iceberg and the edge of the shelf, to study the seabed. a sea that has been covered by hundreds of meters of ice for decades, ”the institute said. Experts from the Alfred Wegener Institute, Helmholtz Center for Polar and Marine Research (AWI) and their international partners reached the calf site to take photographs once in a lifetime of previously hidden biodiversity.

[Pictures taken with OFOBS (Ocean Floor Observation and Bathymetry System). Numerous small sponges, bryozoans and corals encrust the stones scattered across the seafloor. credit: AWI]

[Life on Antactic seafloor, where giant iceberg A74 calved from Brunt ice shelf (eastern Weddell Sea). Credit: AWI]

“It is very fortunate that we were able to respond flexibly and study a calf incident at the Brunt Ice Shelf in such detail,” said Dr Hartmut Hellmer, a physicist at the AWI and head of the expedition. “Gale force winds kept the Polarstern from reaching the region,” scientists said in the research.

[This stone supports a number of filter feeding, fixed animals. Photo: Alfred-Wegener-Institut / OFOBS-Team PS124]

[Soft corals and other filter feeders are also using the stones as substrates on which to grow. Photo: Alfred-Wegener-Institut / OFOBS-Team PS124]

Division near the southeast sea of ​​Weddell

With the terrible iceberg breaking, the gap allowed researchers to explore the surrounding area. “This is a great opportunity for researchers aboard the Polarstern to explore the Antarctic ice sheet. The Polarstern Team accepted the hardships associated with it and also the risks involved, ”said German Federal Research Minister Anja Karliczek, stressing the importance of the mission. Photographs show a 10cm marine anemone attached to a rock on the seabed, which eats shellfish and small fish. Scientists have discovered twisty tendrils of brittlestar star, pink sea worm and several other rocks, corals and sponges. The researchers found at least 5 species of fish and squids. The area was located near the southeast sea of ​​Weddell. Scientists are also recording basic data on temperature, salinity, and ocean flow directions and distances to determine the effects of climate change.

[Giant iceberg A74 calved from Brunt ice shelf. Photo: Alfred-Wegener-Institut]

[Brunt Ice Shelf and Iceberg A74, Weddell Sea, Antarctica. (Photo: TSX data/Alfred-Wegener-Institut]