Polar Time: Life evolves in sync with rhythmic changes in light

This animation was made by artist Lisa Roberts in collaboration with Australian Antarctic Division scientist So Kawaguchi. It contributes to the 'Helmholtz Virtual-Institutes' research program for understanding 'Biological timing in a changing marine environment: clocks and rhythms in pelagic organisms'. The animation visualises life evolving in sync with rhythmic changes in lightness and darkness. The focus is Euphausia superba (Antarctic krill), a keystone species in the marine food web.

Normal  development of krill is threatened by changes in abundance and thickness of sea ice. As sea water temperatures rise, sea ice becomes thinner and so there is less of it and because krill feed on algae that live under the sea ice, krill may risk starvation as more sea ice melts. Additionally, as increasing sun lightens the water, through thinner ice and open seas, krill risk changes to their biological clocks which govern their habitual behaviors.


  • Polar Time ( Visit

Intended Audience and Usage

This visualisation is useful for all levels of teaching and learning about the changing climate and the impact of this on food chains.


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