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Antarctic expedition leading to better understanding polar biogeochemical ocean processes

Thursday, 06 April 2017

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Dr Viena Puigcorbé, from ECU’s Environmental Radioactivity Lab, along with PhD student Montserrat Roca-Martí from Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona in Spain, recently returned from a six week Antarctic expedition on board the Aurora Australis research vessel in collaboration with the Australian Antarctic Division.

Dr Puigcorbé was part of a team of international researchers led by Dr. Delphine Lannuzel at the University of Tasmania Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies; UTas-IMAS. The team are investigating the impact of the changes in sea ice extent on primary productivity in the Southern Ocean through the assessment of the physical and biological drivers of both iron and carbon cycles in the marginal ice zone (MIZ). The MIZ is the transition between the open ocean and sea ice and, despite its potential to naturally fertilize the Southern Ocean with iron and to stimulate the biological carbon pump little research has been directed here.

The samples collected by Viena and Montserrat will provide estimates of carbon and iron export in the water column that, combined with additional biogeochemical parameters analyzed by colleagues from UTas-IMAS, will generate an improved understanding of the polar biogeochemical ocean processes required to constrain predictions of the changing sea ice habitat in the East Australian sector. The project is part of wider research from Professor Pere Masqué’s team in the Centre of Marine Ecosystems Research at ECU’s School of Science.

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