sp01u1p2 - Unit One Antarctic Ecology Unit I Antarctic...

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Unit One Antarctic Ecology Project Oceanography Spring 2001 2 Unit I Antarctic Ecology On the cutting edge…. Antarctica is the most extreme continent in terms of climate and topography. The land and water habitats present challenges for the plants and animals that live there. Scientists from the University of South Florida hope to gain a better understanding of some of the Antarctic ice and water food webs by studying the pelagic fish and their adaptations. They want to use this information to study the human impact on this unique ecosystem. Antarctic Ecology I Lesson Objectives: Students will be able to do the following: Describe an Antarctic ecosystem List three ways ice is used as a habitat Explain the importance of ice algae in the Antarctic food chain Key concepts: Southern Ocean, Antarctic Convergence, Antarctic Circumpolar Current, food web, ecosystem, biomass Antarctic Region The Antarctic region includes a continent that covers the southern pole and the water that surrounds it. The landmass itself has been separated from the other continents for millions of years and has been gradually cooling to its present temperature. It is a land of extremes, containing high mountain ranges and interior deserts that are subjected to profound changes in day length and seasonal temperatures. This environment is influenced by intense changes in climatic conditions that affect the physical components of the ecosystem and the organisms that live there. The extremes of this continent have allowed only a few types of organisms to live successfully upon this landmass. The Antarctic land mass is surrounded by the Southern Ocean . It is considered one of the most hostile oceans because of its high winds and churning seas. The southern boundary of this ocean is the continental landmass with its narrow continental shelf dropping off abruptly in some areas to depths up to 1500 feet. The northern boundary is 60 ° south latitude. The true Antarctic ecosystem includes all of this area extending to the Antarctic Convergence . The Antarctic Convergence, located in the vicinity of 50 ° south latitude, is actually a front or a place where
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Antarctic Ecology Project Oceanography Spring 2001 3 water masses of different temperatures meet. In this case, the colder surface water flowing north meets warmer water flowing south. Since the density of water increases as the temperature decreases, the denser cold water sinks beneath the warm water creating a thin icy bottom layer covered by a warmer surface layer. This provides a nutritionally rich feeding zone. The Antarctic Circumpolar Current , or West Wind Drift, carries surface water from west to east around the continent. This current, affected by land mass shape and ocean topography , creates an irregularly shaped zone of water with unique properties. The mixing of water both vertically and horizontally sets up a thermal barrier that isolates the Antarctic ecosystem. This thermal barrier results in many species that are unique to the Antarctic. Adapted from R. M. Laws (1985)
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This note was uploaded on 07/31/2011 for the course OCB 6050 taught by Professor Staff during the Spring '11 term at University of South Florida - Tampa.

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sp01u1p2 - Unit One Antarctic Ecology Unit I Antarctic...

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