IPSOS - SEAL : Investigation of the vulnerability of the biological Productivity of the Southern Ocean Subsystems to climate change: the Southern Elephant seal Assessment from mid to high Latitudes.


Project leader : Christophe Guinet (CNRS-Centre d’Etudes Biologiques de Chizé)
Project leader at OAO : Hervé Claustre

Polar marine ecosystems are amongst the most vulnerable to climate change, with conflicting evidence on how the biological productivity of the Southern Ocean (SO) will respond to global warming. The present project assessed the spatio-temporal vulnerability of productivity of the SO with direct consequences on the amount of CO2 'fixed' by the biological pump, and on the biology of top marine predators.

The studied geographic region has been the Indian Sector of the SO, and the main predator, the Southern elephant seal (SES). SES females from the Kerguelen Islands have been fitted with a new generation of satellite-relayed data loggers: over a 4-full year period (2007-2010), main oceanographic parameters (temperature, salinity and fluorescence) have been acquired throughout the upper 1000 m. Most data have been acquired in the two most productive SO subsystems: the Frontal Zone, located between the Subtropical and Polar Fronts, and the Marginal Ice Zone.

As part of IPSOS-SEAL the OAO team used the Chla fields derived from SES fluorescence data, combined them with remotely sensed satellite Chla to feed bio-optical models of primary production. The aim of this contribution was to get first evaluations of carbon budgets at a regional scale.

The project was funded by the national research agency (ANR). It was part of the “Vulnerabilité: Milieu et Climat” (VMC) program 2007.