The research team will be sampling the coastal waters of the Arctic Ocean to investigate how microbial creatures affect the productivity of a coastal Arctic ecosystem. They will travel to the field site via snowmobile and sample the seawater through a hole drilled in the sea ice. The seawater collected will be used to look at competition between autotrophs, organisms that make their own food, and heterotrophs, organisms that cannot make their own food, for nitrogen (N) in the waters near Barrow, Alaska.

The field work will take place over the course of three seasons (two years) to give researchers the opportunity to investigate the coastal water ecosystems in different seasons, winter and summer and with different amounts of daylight. The sources of nitrogen vary when there is no daylight in the winter from the summer where there is nearly 24 hours of daylight.

In ocean ecosystems, microbes dominate many of the processes and the major producers and consumers of carbon dioxide (CO2) and other greenhouse gases. Understanding the role of microbial communities in the Arctic ecosystem is and essential part of predicting the impact of climate change on Arctic food webs and other natural cycles.

Learn more at the project website.