The continental shelf of the Ross Sea exhibits substantial variations in physical forcing, ice cover, and biological processes on a variety of time and space scales. Its circulation is characterized by advective inputs from the east and exchanges with off-shelf regions via the troughs along the northern portions. Phytoplankton biomass is greater there than anywhere else in the Antarctic, although nitrate is rarely reduced to levels below 10 μmol L−1. Overall growth is regulated by irradiance (via ice at the surface and by the depths of the mixed layers) and iron concentrations. Apex predators reach exceptional abundances, and the world's largest colonies of Adélie and emperor penguins are found there. Krill are represented by two species ( near the shelf break and throughout the continental shelf region). Equally important and poorly known is the Antarctic silverfish (), which is also consumed by most upper-trophic-level predators. Future changes in the Ross Sea environment will have profound and unpredictable effects on the food web.


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  • Article Type: Review Article
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