Marine Biology

Zooplankton Migration Under Low Solar Irradiance

A Jetyak fitted with a multi-frequency echosounder and a hyperspectral irradiance sensor (spectroradiometer) was used to study the effect of light pollution on the distribution of zooplankton during the polar night.

Zooplankton are instrumental indicators of ecosystem change and are widely studied. Diel Vertical Migrations (DVMs) are cyclic patterns of vertical movement synchronized with variations in irradiance that are commonly observed in zooplankton and fish across all aquatic habitats, but are especially susceptible to disturbance caused by ever-increasing fugitive light emissions.

Traditional sampling platforms of these migrations introduce artificial light which affects the zooplankton community to a degree where it is impossible to examine its abundance and natural rhythms within the upper 100m. A Jetyak deployment is the ideal platform to characterize DVMs, without the stray light interference operating from manned tenders or putting operators at risk.

Comparing data obtained from manned vessel with Jetyak deployments allows researchers to compare the behavior of zooplankton in an unpolluted light environment, and construct numerical modeling to better understand the impacts of increased light emissions into the ocean due reduced sea ice coverage and other anthropogenic influences.

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