Searching for answers in the Southern Ocean

Searching for answers in the Southern Ocean

 

A major Antarctic expedition which sets sail tomorrow 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 to be analysed at the laboratory for nitrogenous osmolytes.

The three-month voyage and following detailed analysis will enable scientists to measure and quantify the impact of climate change and pollution in the Southern Ocean. 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 three-month voyage and following detailed analysis will enable scientists to measure and quantify the impact of climate change and pollution in the Southern Ocean.

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.

Dr Ruth Airs from PML commented: “We are really excited that joint PML-Plymouth University post-doc, Holly Pearson, is about to embark on this expedition. Holly is participating on the transit leg to Cape Town where she will be taking measurements, ensuring our instrumentation is working as it should on board ship and lecturing to a cohort of students as part of a “Floating University”.

The Antarctic Circumnavigation departs from Cape Town on the 20th December, when Holly will begin a 3-leg voyage around Antarctica as part of the SORPASSO project (Surveying Organic Reactive gases and Particles Across the Surface Southern Ocean) led by Rafel Simó from Institut de Ciències del Mar, CSIC.

Dr Airs continued, “Holly will be making measurements of volatile amines in the Southern Ocean which have the potential to act as climate-regulating gases. Methylamines are small molecules present at low concentrations in the ocean that have a short life span, and their precise role in regulating climate is something we need to understand better.”

The analytical technique developed between PML and Plymouth University will enable the scientists to extract the Methylamines from their environment, and relate this to information on their parent compounds, the N-osmolytes, which will be measured in samples collected by Holly.

This Southern Ocean dataset will help to fully establish the potential importance of these small but important nitrogen compounds, and within the SORPASSO project, link the scientists’ data to other trace gases.

You may be interested in...

News

Southern Ocean Atlas

A new biogeographic atlas was released yesterday, providing a comprehensive audit of marine life in the Southern Ocean.

News

New study to investigate the impacts of ocean acidification in the Southern Ocean

PML scientists, amongst a team of thirty others from eight of the UK’s top research laboratories, are participating in a major UK expedition to the Southern Ocean.

Project

N-OSmolytes Across the Surface Southern Ocean: Environmental Drivers and Bioinformatics

Marine organisms accumulate osmolytes in response to stress and release them when environmental conditions change due to viral attack, grazing or change of salinity. These released osmolytes serve as essential nutrients for marine microorganisms. Degradation of osmolytes by ...