A uniquely powerful collaborative effort engaging coastal polar surveys, glacial ice diving, advanced imaging marine engineering, marine food web ecology science, and environmental policy assessment comprise POLEs under the leadership of Dr. Angel Yanagihara (Explorers Club Fellow, polar diver, and University of Hawaii research professor). This Citizen Science Antarctica Expedition will focus on the study of Plankton Observations of Lifecycles and Ecobiomes (POLEs).
Phase 1 Antarctica 2024
In Phase I Antarctica 2024, Michael Carvalho, an environmental attorney, Explorers Club National Member and expert polar ice SCUBA diver, will embark on his third Polar expedition and second expedition to Antarctica, in Feb – March 2024, leading the environmental policy assessment of POLEs in the Southern Ocean and Antarctic Peninsula. Mr. Carvalho will serve as the Senior Science Policy Advisor to The Explorers Club Flag Expedition’s scientists who will assess food web dynamics correlating aspects of increasing rates of glacial run off, temperature and decreased salinity with the complex biodiversity and population densities of foundational microplankton, the predators and prey of krill, a pivotal food web member upon which so many higher polar life forms depend. Specifically, scientists, researchers, and explorers on the team will collect and document microscopic plankton species, eDNA samples, physical oceanographic data, and underwater photogrammetry.
A unique aspect of the POLEs Expedition is the well-planned deliverables. The scientific data will inform a policy assessment paper that Carvalho will be preparing as a critical deliverable of the POLEs Flag Expedition.
Mr. Carvalho has experience serving as a Delegate for North America to the United Nations Environment Assembly, and his expertise will provide critical assessment of the Science-Policy Nexus of The Treaty of Antarctica (Madrid Protocol). This work is important because scientists will be assessing whether the policy goals are being met halfway through the fifty-year life of the Treaty. The policy assessment will include recommendations for improvements to better reflect the current science in the Southern Ocean and Antarctic continent.
About the Scientific Work – The Intersection of Science, Policy and Education
The types of scientific research that will take place on this expedition are diverse and include:
Live Plankton Photomicroscopy allows immediate identification of known planktonic species, as well as documentation of novel species of microscopic freely swimming plants and animals or “zooplankton and phytoplankton” which have not been systematically studied in shallow Polar coastal environments. Thus, the POLEs Flag Expedition is an historic and pioneering effort made even more valuable by the inclusion of a longitudinal element over 4 distinct phases in which biodiversity data will be gathered over the course of a multiple-year time series. This work will be directed by University of Hawaii research professor and Explorers Club National Fellow, Dr. Petra Lenz, with assistance from Dr. Angel Yanagihara.
Community DNA allows the identification of organisms comprising a community at a specific time and location. Samples will be collected, preserved, and analyzed using conventional PCR and other molecular biological approaches such as metabarcoding, meatranscriptomics, and single cell RNA sequence analysis under the direction of Dr. Lenz. Additionally, Environmental DNA (eDNA) samples will be prepared using NOAA protocols and banked for future analysis.
Physical Oceanography is the field of study that deals with mechanisms of energy transfer through the sea and across its boundaries, and with the physical interactions of the sea with its surroundings, especially including the influence of the seas on the climate of the atmosphere. The Expedition will assess the complex physical interplay between wind, waves, water density, and pressure by using special sensors to collect water samples from various locations along the Antarctic Peninsula. Glacial run off nascent coastal zone sea temperature, salinity, and geochemistry will also be assessed in GIS mapping surveys to correlate with the biodiversity effort and eDNA collections. The team’s efforts will be supervised by Evan Kovacs, Explorers Club National Fellow, inventor, and former researcher from Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.
Underwater Photogrammetry involves SCUBA divers using square meter frames to photograph existing features for later analysis at multiple, geolocated positions.
The outcomes of this work will allow scientists to gain a better understanding of existing conditions, comparison to previous studies, and establish a data set that will form a baseline for comparisons in subsequent Expeditions. The eDNA collection will be replicated in subsequent years in the Arctic and Antarctica to track changes. The results of the POLEs Expedition will be shared with students in the Gulf of Maine who are disproportionately affected by Climate Change.
How You Can Help
To realize the full educational potential of this expedition, the Expedition is looking to raise $50,000. The Expedition has established a giving fund through the University of Hawaii Foundation. Your tax-deductible contribution will provide staff time for Expedition planning, sampling equipment, and curriculum development.
Michael Carvalho, who will be leading the Science-Policy efforts will self-fund his travel and vessel costs, but assistance is needed to support the science educational objectives of this Expedition.
For more information, please call Michael Carvalho at (678) 354-0066 or send an email to email@example.com.