Drs Ruth Airs and Rachael Beale at PML

Gases, Climate and the Southern Ocean

 

A major Antarctic expedition will help PML scientists understand the importance of nitrogenous osmolytes in the marine environment.

The new Swiss Polar Institute’s first project, the Antarctic Circumnavigation Expedition ‘ACE’, will comprise 55 researchers from 30 countries working on 22 research projects. From this ambitious journey, PML scientists will be sent samples from the entire voyage, to be analysed at Plymouth Marine Laboratory for nitrogenous osmolytes.

As well as being important in biogeochemical cycles (allowing cells to exist in salty environment, and used for growth or energy by bacteria) PML scientists believe nitrogenous osmolytes might also be important precursors to the climate relevant methylamines. Analysis of the samples will feed into existing Natural Environment Research Council, NERC Discovery science led by Warwick University ‘Biological cycling of N-osmolytes in the surface ocean (N-osmolytes)’.

PML scientists plan to measure methylamines in seawater on board during the expedition in collaboration with Plymouth University, who will be sending the scientist and kit on to the ship. The method being used was developed by a joint PhD student between PML and Plymouth University.

It is expected that methylamines are important for the formation of new particles in the atmosphere, therefore vital that scientists discover how abundant they are in our seas, particularly in the Southern Ocean region.

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