Ocean Biogeochemistry and Ecosystems pages
Other NOCS research groups

Ocean Biogeochemistry & Ecosystems Group - Research Topics

Our research stretches from the sea surface to the seafloor and from nearshore to the open ocean. We focus principally on the Atlantic Ocean but our work addresses fundamental issues of importance to all oceans. Our studies range from understanding the distribution of single species through to multidisciplinary studies of key oceanic processes requiring the integration of physics, chemistry, biology, remote sensing and modelling. Devising and using the latest platforms and sensors is critical in keeping our research at the leading edge.

The following gives a more detailed description of our individual research interests and interactions:

Incubations to determine silica 
		uptake rates of phytoplankton

At the seasurface, the effect of dust inputs on ocean biogeochemistry are studied together with the generation of biogenic gases by microbial communities. Within the surface-mixed layer, the biogeochemical impact of physical processes at spatial scales from that of turbulence to mesoscale eddies influence the distribution of iron and other nutrients required by phytoplankton for their growth and often involve molecular approaches. Phytoplankton growth has an important impact on bacterioplankton and on protozooplankton communities. Such microbial communities are analysed using flow cytometry. With the changes in pH and other properties of seawater, it is important to know how phytoplankton, mesozooplankton, gelatinous plankton, other invertebrates and fish respond.

PELAGRA drifting sediment

The settlement of material, especially carbon, from the surface mixed layer into the deep ocean is a key biogeochemical process. Quantifying and characterising the materials in ocean export flux and what reaches the seafloor controls benthic communities from microbes to fish. Large-scale changes occur in benthic communities over time in relation to decadal variability in surface water productivity. Climatic oscillations such as El Nino and the North Atlantic Oscillation have major effects on the abyssal seafloor through the transfer of food. It is important to distinguish these changes from man's direct impacts, such as from deep-water trawling, offshore oil and gas production and from mining. We are also interested in the patterns of diversity and abundance in communities in hydrothermal vents, cold seeps and other chemosynthetic ecosystems. The responses of benthic organisms to natural or manmade stresses are measured.

RRS Discovery

Monitoring of key sites in the NE Atlantic is carried out to as part of a sustained observatory network tracking environmental change. This uses Ships of Opportunity, such as the Swire-NOCS Ocean Monitoring System - SNOMS, research cruises (the Extended Ellett Line between Scotland, Iceland and Greenland), the Atlantic Meridional Transect (AMT) and a deep water observatory on the Porcupine Abyssal Plain at 48 50N 16 30W. Temporal studies are set within detailed spatial surveys using satellite remote sensing, autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs) and towed undulating systems. We use modelling to integrate the varied complexities of ocean physics, chemistry and biology and to understand ecosystem dynamics and biochemical cycling.

ipocamp, pressure aquarium

Studies on ecosystem functioning in the deep sea are being pioneered with the development of in situ incubation chambers, both in the pelagic and on the seabed, and by the development of experiments within pressurised aquaria housed in a sea-going containerised facility. Access to ROV platforms for precision sampling and seabed is given by the NERC Isis ROV and by a dynamic partnership with the offshore oil and gas industry (the SERPENT project).

... more on OBE facilities