Scientific expedition

The TANGO 2 scientific expedition is heading for Antarctica



Delineating the responses of Southern Ocean ecosystems to climate change is the objective of the TANGO 2 scientific mission, which set off from Ushuaïa (Argentina) to reach the Antarctic Peninsula ... by sailboat! The mission involves researchers from ULB and UGent and three doctoral students from the University of Liège: Axelle Brusselman, Martin Dogniez and Anthony Voisin. They will take samples from the boat and underwater to study greenhouse gas emissions, planktonic primary production and benthic food webs.

F

ollowing on from the TANGO 1 expedition , the aim of the TANGO2 mission is to observe the reactions of Antarctic marine ecosystems to climate change, particularly at shallow depths. As climate change is significant and intensifying in the polar regions, the structure and function of ecosystems are likely to undergo dramatic changes. By studying ecological thresholds at different levels of the organisation, including species, species interactions, populations, processes and functions, and entire ecosystems, with a focus on the benthos (organisms living in close contact with the seabed), TANGO aims to identify not only the conditions for habitability but also the factors that compromise habitability, such as imbalances in the carbon cycle.

The team of researchers - led by Prof. Bruno Danis of the Laboratoire de Biologie Marine (ULB) - will carry out detailed work on biodiversity and greenhouse gas emissions in different areas, combining a range of techniques (scuba diving, drone deployment, remotely operated submersible, 3D imaging, trophic and genetic studies, biogeochemical measurements). Researchers will also be interested in simultaneously measuring parameters relating to the atmosphere, the water column and the seabed. The sailing trip will last until 9 March 2024. This is an ideal mode of transport for scientific missions, as it has a limited environmental impact and, thanks to its agility, will make it possible to reach little-studied areas.

TANGO2 ©B.Delille:ULiège

Axelle Brusselman (FRIA), Martin Dogniez (FNRS) and Anthony Voisin (UBO grant), doctoral students in the FOCUS research unit of the ULiège Faculty of Science, will be working on two types of task on this sailing boat: Firstly, samples will be taken underwater to collect benthic invertebrates and their potential food sources, macro-algae, sediments, suspended matter and plankton, to study food webs using several complementary techniques (stable isotopes, fatty acids, DNA barcoding from the animals' digestive tracts)," explains Loïc Michel, marine biologist and lecturer at the ULiège FOCUS research unit. They will also take water samples and carry out incubations to measure greenhouse gas emissions and planktonic primary production". All these elements will then be integrated with the results obtained during the first campaign, which took place in February 2023, to gain a better understanding of how climate change in general, and the retreat of the sea ice in particular, are modifying the functioning of Antarctic ecosystems.

The TANGO2 scientific expedition is part of the BRAIN-BE "TANGO" project, funded by BELSPO. The ULiège staff (UR FOCUS) involved in this project include Bruno Delille (CQ FNRS, Chemical Oceanography Unit), Gilles Lepoint (MR FNRS, Trophic and Isotopic Ecology Laboratory) and Loïc Michel (ULiège Lecturer, Animal Systematics and Diversity), as well as their teams.

Learn more about the expedition

Your contact at ULiège

Loïc Michel

Bruno Delille

Gilles Lepoint

You can follow them on social media

Facebook

Instagram

Polarsteps

Share this news