Antarctic Science

Papers—Life Sciences and Oceanography

Limnological properties of Antarctic ponds during winter freezing

S. Schmidt a1, W. Moskal a1, S. J. De Mora a2, C. Howard-Williams a3 and W. F. Vincent a3p1
a1 Greenpeace Antarctic Expedition, Private Bag, Auckland, New Zealand
a2 Chemistry Department, University of Auckland, New Zealand
a3 Taupo Research Laboratory, DSIR Marine & Freshwater, Taupo, New Zealand

Article author query
schmidt s   [PubMed][Google Scholar] 
moskal w   [PubMed][Google Scholar] 
de mora s   [PubMed][Google Scholar] 
howard-williams c   [PubMed][Google Scholar] 
vincent w   [PubMed][Google Scholar] 


Two shallow ponds at Cape Evans, Ross Island, were sampled at 1–2 week intervals, during winter freezing throughout the winter and during the subsequent melt period, to examine the physical and chemical conditions imposed on the biota during the year. Liquid water was first detected at the base of the ponds in late December. During the main summer melt period conductivities were less than 10 mS cm−1 with maximum daily temperatures around 5°C. The bottom waters became increasingly saline during freezing and water temperatures decreased below 0°C; by June the remaining water overlying the sediments had conductivities >150 mS cm−1 and temperatures of −13°C. Calcium carbonate, then sodium sulphate precipitated out of solution during early freezing. The dominant nitrogen species was dissolved organic-N which reached 12 g m−3 in Pond 1 just prior to final freeze up. The organic and inorganic forms of nitrogen and dissolved reactive phosphorus increased with increasing conductivity in the ponds. The behaviour of particulate-N and particulate-P mirrored that of chlorophyll a with a peak in March-April and a second higher peak just before final freeze-up. This study provides clear evidence that organisms which persist throughout the year in Antarctic coastal ponds must be capable of surviving much more severe osmotic, pH, temperature and redox conditions than those measured during the summer melt. Deoxygenation, pH decline and H2S production, however, point to continued respiratory activity well into the dark winter months.

(Received October 18 1990)
(Accepted February 26 1991)

Key Words: algae; carbonate; chlorophyll a; cyanobacteria; freeze-thaw; nitrogen; nutrients; phosphorus; sulphate.

p1 Permanent address: Départment de Biologie, Université Laval, Québec G1K 7P4, Canada

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