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Theses Doctoral

Microbial Interactions in Coupled Climate-Biogeochemical Systems

Kim, Hyewon

This thesis addresses time-series analyses of microbial (i.e. marine heterotrophic bacteria and phytoplankton) and microbially relevant ecosystem variables at two ocean time series stations - Palmer Station in the coastal Western Antarctic Peninsula (WAP) and the Bermuda Atlantic Time-series Study (BATS) site in the Sargasso Sea. Using a diverse spectrum of statistical analyses and models, the aim of this thesis is to gain the better insight into 1) variability of microbial and ecosystem processes across varying time scales, from seasonal to interdecadal, and 2) how each process is influenced by variability of surrounding local physical forcing factors as well as regional and global-scale climate variability along the study region. Chapter 1 provides an introduction to the two study sites as well as a brief history of the ocean time-series programs there. Chapter 2 deals with phytoplankton and nutrient drawdown variability over an interdecadal (1993-2013) period using seasonal time-series variables collected at Palmer Station during full 6-months of Austral growing seasons (October-March). Specifically, the linkage between large-scale climate modes relevant to the WAP area and phytoplankton and nutrient patterns is explored to establish the underlying mechanisms of the observed ecosystem variability, which is ultimately triggered by climate conditions via mediatory physical forcing factors. Chapter 3 addresses a decadal (2002-2014) variability of heterotrophic bacterial variables collected at Palmer Station in Antarctica. This Chapter 3 provides an insight into why bacterial activity was shown to be restricted in this very productive ecosystem from diverse aspects gained using different statistical approaches. Furthermore, the linkage between bacterial properties and surrounding environmental conditions is explored. Finally, Chapter 4 concerns an event-scale phenomenon - the frequency of winter storms - and its impact on bacterial dynamics and ecological processes at the BATS site. Using a previously developed storm tracking algorithm, this study benefits from establishing a mechanistic connection between storm forcing and bacterial processes via storm-induced variability of physical environments - the extent of wind-mixing and entrainment of cold water into the upper mixed-layer. The finding of Chapter 4 is novel in the aspect that prevalent negative North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO) conditions, which lead to frequent arrivals of winter storms over the BATS region, in part, explain a significant decreasing bacterial trend over the past 24-year period. Overall, my thesis, in conjunction with work performed by fellow microbial oceanographers, aims to provide evidence of microbial responses to physical forcings across varying time scales in the strongly coupled climate-biogeochemical systems at two contrasting ocean sites based on a variety of statistical approaches.


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Earth and Environmental Sciences
Thesis Advisors
Ducklow, Hugh W.
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
June 7, 2017