Shelf Sea Biogeochemistry blog

Saturday, 1 November 2014

Next cruise: RRS Discovery, Celtic Sea


My next research cruise is due later next week. I’ll be at sea for 23 days aboard the RRS Discovery, leaving Falmouth on November 9th and returning to Southampton on December 3rd. This cruise is a part of the Shelf Sea Biogeochemistry research programme.


https://jonathanatsea.files.wordpress.com/2014/11/js_mooring_small.jpg
On an earlier cruise, with a collection of meteorological buoys ready for deployment.

The shallow seas around the world’s landmasses, called the shelf seas, cover about 5% of the ocean’s surface area, but they generate somewhere between 15 and 30% of the total amount of biological production in the ocean. We are not entirely sure how they do that. In particular we know that they must receive nutrients from the deep ocean to fuel this biological growth, but we don’t know how that happens. This biological growth supports all of the main commercial fisheries in the sea, and it is also important to our climate. The growth of plankton results in the sea surface absorbing carbon from the atmosphere’s CO2; the shelf sea biological production is thought to remove about one third of the total carbon we put into the atmosphere each year by burning fossil fuels. So, we want to understand how the plankton do this and, importantly, if they are sensitive to changes in our climate.

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