MERTZ regional DIVersity Assessment project

The MERTZ-DIVA project brings together a team of internationally recognised science experts to study and raise public awareness about the exceptional diversity of a key Antarctic ecosystem: The Adélie land shelf. This area, under the strong influence of the nearby Mertz Glacier, is deeply impacted by the recent calving of an immense iceberg. Regional benthic ecosystems are the first to be affected as deep convection which normally export the dense water created at the surface to the bottom of the basin has stopped. The MERTZ-DIVA project has been made possible thanks to an unprecedented initiative, the Antarctic Circumnavigation Expedition (ACE). ACE, a scientific expedition gathering 55 scientists from 30 different countries is aiming to study the Austral Ocean biodiversity and the impact of climate change. In the vicinity of the Mertz glacier, we will deploy state-of-the-art instrumentation to study in great details, the structure and functioning of a peculiar ecosystem: Deep water coral assemblages. This ecosystem has recently been declared “Vulnerable Marine Ecosytem” and it is crucial to develop a strategy to protect them. We will deploy ROPOS, a science-class remotely operated vehicle equipped with new generation imaging and sampling systems. An ambitious communication programme will allow MERTZ-DIVA scientists to actively engage with the public and promote its engagement toward preserving these ecosystems.

A French-Canadian consortium has been assembled to develop experimental and modeling approaches to reach the following objectives: (1) predict the permafrost thermal regime, while accounting for these novel feedbacks; (2) predict greenhouse gas emissions by thawing permafrost and quantify the permafrost-climate feedback. The project will benefit from the coordinator’s position within the joint research laboratory Takuvik created between CNRS and Université Laval in Quebec City.