The Antarctic Peninsula region has experienced a recent cooling for about 15 years since the beginning of the 21st century. In Livingston Island, this cooling has been of 0.8°C over the 12-yr period 2004–2016, and of 1.0°C for the summer average temperatures over the same period. In this paper, we analyse whether this observed cooling has implied a significant change in the density of the snowpack covering Hurd and Johnsons glaciers, and whether such a density change has had, by itself, a noticeable impact in the calculated surface mass balance. Our results indicate a decrease in the snow density by 22 kg m-3 over the study period. The density changes are shown to be correlated with the summer temperature changes. We show that this observed decrease in density does not have an appreciable effect on the calculated surface mass balance, as the corresponding changes are below the usual error range of the surface mass balance estimates. This relieves us from the need of detailed and time-consuming snow density measurements at every mass-balance campaign.
Humification plays an important role in stabilization of organic matter in soils of the cryolithic zone. In this context, the degree of organic matter stabilization has been assessed, using instrumental methods, for permafrost peat soils of the eastern European Arctic, based on selected plots from within the Komi Republic (Russian Federation). Humic substances (HSs) isolated from the mire permafrost peats of the forest-tundra subzone of the European Arctic have been characterized in terms of molecular composition. This was accomplished using elemental and amino acid fragments (AAFs) composition. Solid-state 13C nuclear magnetic resonance (13C NMR) spectroscopy was utilized to identify the structure of HSs. Changes in the molar x(H) : x(C) ratio, ratio of aromatic to paraffin fragments and ratio of hydroxy AAFs to heterocyclic AAFs along the peat profiles have been revealed. They are due to the activation of cryogenic processes in the upper part of the seasonally thawing layer, the natural selection of condensed humic molecules, the botanical composition and degree of degradation of peat, which reflect the climatic features of the area in the Holocene. Humic acids and fulvic acids of the peat soils showed the prevalence of compounds with a low degree of condensation and a low portion of aromatic fragments. The aromaticity degree showed the trend to increase within the depth. Changes of quantitative and qualitative parameters of specific organic compounds occur at the permafrost boundary of peatlands, which can serve as an indicator of recent climate changes in environments from the high latitudes. The presented data can be useful in the evaluation of soil organic matter stabilization degree in the active layer and below the permafrost table.
The study was aimed at analyzing patterns of abundance and diversity of macrozoobenthic communities along a depth gradient in the Admiralty Bay, a semi-enclosed basin located in a rapidly changing region of the western Antarctic Peninsula. The study concerns primarily the Polychaeta and Amphipoda, the taxonomic richness and diversity of both groups being analyzed at different taxonomic levels (species, genus and family). Such an analysis, which uses a basic surrogacy measure (low taxonomic resolution) can be very useful in future monitoring programs of the Admiralty Bay. The analysis was based on 35 samples collected in the summer seasons of 1984/85 and 1985/86, with a Tvärminne sampler (within the 7–30 m depth range) and an 0.1 m2 van Veen grab (deeper areas) along a transect with the depth changing from 7 to 502 m. The total macrozoobenthos abundance was found to decrease with depth, from 1581 ± 730 ind./0.1 m2 within the 7–30 m to as few as 384 ± 145 ind./0.1 m2 at 400–500 m. The number of phyla per sample was observed to increase along the depth gradient of 7–30 to 200–300 m but was substantially reduced in the deepest sublittoral (400–500 m). The results showed large differences between amphipods and polychaetes in their respective depth-related biodiversity changes. On the other hand, the diversity metrics used (Pielou’s evenness, Shannon-Wiener index, number of species per sample, number of genera per sample, number of families per sample) at different taxonomic levels within each group produced similar patterns, demonstrating the usefulness of surrogacy in studies of Antarctic fjords.
Different chromosomal forms of Deschampsia antarctica Desv. (Poaceae), including diploids (2n=26), hypotriploid (2n=36–38) and a genotype with an occasional occurrence of B chromosome (2n=26+0-1B) that originated from southern marginal populations (Argentine Islands region, maritime Antarctic) were studied using molecular cytogenetic, morphometric and biochemical methods. FISH analysis revealed variations in the number of rDNA sites between the diploid and hypotriploid plants. The genome size varied among plants with a different chromosome number and was on average 10.88 pg/2C for diploids and 16.46 pg/2C for hypotriploid. The mean values of leaf length of plants grown in vitro varied within a range of 5.23–9.56 cm. The total phenolic content ranged from 51.10 to 105.40 mg/g, and the total flavonoid content ranged from 1.22 to 4.67 mg/g. The amount of phenolic compounds did not differ significantly between the genotypes, while a variation in the flavonoid content was observed for L59 and DAR12. The diploids did not differ significantly among each other in terms of the number of rDNA loci, but differed slightly in their genome size. The individuals of DAR12 carrying B chromosome were similar to other diploids in terms of their genome size, but statistically differed in leaf length. The hypotriploid had both a greater number of rDNA sites and a larger genome size. No statistical correlations were observed between the genome size and leaf length or genome size and accumulation of phenolic and flavonoid compounds. The results of this study suggest that D. antarctica plants from the southern edge of the range are characterised by the heterogeneity of the studied parameters.
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