Shelf Sea Biogeochemistry blog

Showing posts with label SSB. Show all posts
Showing posts with label SSB. Show all posts

Monday, 7 September 2015

SSB Annual Science Meeting (24-25 Nov 2015) - and other information

From an email from Phil Williamson covering developments and events relevant to the Shelf Sea Biogeochemistry researchers.

1. Update on SSB cruise series

After a break in June, the SSB cruise series on RRS Discovery resumed in early July with a mostly-pelagic cruise led by Mark Moore (DY 033), followed by the current, mostly-benthic cruise led by Henry Ruhl (DY 034). Excellent progress has been made to date on DY034, with the four main benthic sites already sampled and two SmartBuoy systems successfully recovered.  RRS Discovery is due to return to Southampton on 2 September, at the end of what is probably the most intensive and ambitious field campaign ever funded by NERC.  It has already delivered a wealth of information, and there is much more to come when data and samples are all fully analysed.  Congratulations to all cruise leaders and participants! 

2. RRS Discovery in London, 8-10 October 2015

As part of NERC’s 50th anniversary programme, RRS Discovery will be in London (moored alongside HMS Belfast, near Tower Bridge) 8-10 October for both public visits and invitation-only events.  Onboard science displays cover a very wide range of activities.  These will include a SSB exhibit on plankton and the carbon cycle, led by Jonathan Sharples, also on-deck display of a Smart Buoy and other sampling gear.  A much wider range of SSB exhibits was offered, but unfortunately there wasn’t space to include them. 

3. Invitation to SSB Annual Science Meeting: Plymouth Marine Laboratory, 24-25 November 2015

All researchers who are directly involved in the SSB programme (either through research grant awards, research studentships, SSB cruise participation or SSB programme management) are invited to the 2015 ASM, to be held at PML,  Plymouth on Tuesday 24 (from 09.30) and Wednesday 25 November (until ~16.00).  The purpose of the meeting is to review progress made, particularly through the cruise programme. Whilst it is not expected that all data and samples will be analysed by then, this will be a key meeting in assessing initial results, strengthening links between WPs, and establishing whether or not SSB’s main components, and the programme as a whole, are ‘on track’ to meet overall objectives.

Online registration and further information for the ASM will be available in mid/late September via SSB pages on the NERC website, including a link to Plymouth hotels near PML.  

Note that:
  • Most participants are expected to make their own accommodation arrangements (the exception is for WP leaders, Executive Board members and Advisory Panel members, for whom a group booking will be made)
  • For those involved in the programme (as defined above), reasonable costs for travel and accommodation will be met, expecting that 2 nights’ accommodation, and possibly three, will be required.
  • The agenda for the meeting will primarily be developed by the WP leaders and myself, identifying the main topics to be presented for discussion. 
  • There will be the opportunity for WP-specific meetings to be held on Monday 23 November, also Thursday 26 November and Friday 27 November; to be arranged by WP leaders.  Any extra costs for such meetings will need to be met from existing budgets.

4. Shelf sea science session at Ocean Sciences meeting; New Orleans, 21-26 February 2016

Abstracts are invited for session #9277 (EC017) “Physical and biogeochemical processes and the support of shelf sea primary productivity and carbon cycling” at the 2016 Ocean Sciences meeting, jointly organised by AGU, ASLO and TOS, and to be held in New Orleans.

The session will be co-chaired by Jonathan Sharples, Richard Sanders and Katja Fennel (Dalhousie), and the deadline for abstracts is 23 September.
Unfortunately it is not currently anticipated that there will be any additional SSB support for participation in this meeting, other than via existing awards.


Dr Phil Williamson
SSB Project Manager

Reflections

By Sebastian Sims

Cruise DY034 has now come to an end, and with it the end of most Shelf Seas Biogeochemistry Programme field work.

From my perspective, this cruise has been a resounding success. Not only have I learnt a lot of scientific procedures and successfully sampled from CTDs, but also the other scientists have given me a good understanding of their work. I thoroughly enjoyed occasionally helping out with coring and trawling, as I found it fascinating to see the benthic fauna up close. I also enjoyed analysing some of the seafloor photos taken by Autosub. I was interested by the principles behind getting profiles of oxygen and iron concentrations in sediments, nutrient analysis, learning about multibeam and sidescan sonar mapping, as well as the role of gliders and benthic landers in collecting observations independently from the ship.


 Outside of the science, this cruise has been a great experience in itself. The stunning sunrises and sunsets, meteor shower and seeing dolphins for the first time kept me going through the tougher days. I have also met a load of great people, who have all made me feel very welcome, and it would be a pleasure to work alongside any of them in the future.

I would like to thank all of the scientists, technicians and crew who made all of this possible. I know more than ever about what it means to be a marine scientist. For all those who have not been on a research cruise before, I would recommend it with the upmost enthusiasm.

I am shortly going to return to my studies, and I await my next cruise opportunity with great anticipation.

Tuesday, 1 September 2015

Heading back to Southampton


We've now finished our SSB sampling and we are headed towards Southampton. Many of us are now transitioning from taking and processing samples and preparing equipment for use, to writing up reports and packing for mobilisation back to our respective home labs.

Sea Creatures: Sabellidae
Our thoughts often mix between reflecting on the expedition to getting back to our lives ashore. It's nonetheless a critical time as we want to ensure that all the work we've done has been well documented and that samples and data are archived properly so they can be of best use for years to come.

Below are some additional images of the sea creatures we found in the Celtic Sea during our sampling.
Sea Creatures: Octopod

Sea Creatures: Polychaete Sea Mouse


Friday, 28 August 2015

Worm holes and snail trails




My job on the RRS Discovery is to characterise the activity of the species that live in the sediment.

I look at a process called bioturbation, which is when species living in the sediment create burrows or move sediment particles up or down.  These activities stimulate microbial growth and encourage the cycling and release of nutrients and are important mediators of shelf sea processes.

To measure bioturbation we use coloured particle tracers we call luminophores, which are placed on top of sediment cores we collect in a 2 – 3 mm thick layer.  These are bright coloured particles that can be easily seen when they are mixed into the underlying sediment.

There are many small worms, shrimp and snails living in the sediment that are constantly moving, grazing, hunting, burrowing, and bioirrigating (moving water to keep burrows and the sediment oxygenated). They can create vast networks of burrows such as those created by Nephrops norvegicus, the Norwegian lobster. They can create mounds and pits on the sediment surface like the Angular crab, Goneplax


An Angular crab, which can create deep pits and large mounds around a burrow network.
We photograph the sediment under ultra-violet light, making the luminophore particles fluoresce so they can be easily identified compared to the surrounding sediment by an automatic computer program and the number of luminophore pixels per sediment depth calculated.


An example image of luminophore movement taken under ultra-violet light.  It is easy to see where the luminophores have been moved by species activity. These trails have probably been created by small worms creating burrows which the luminophores have fallen down. This is an easy and effective way to measure species activity in the sediment in the shelf seas and we can relate this activity to nutrient fluxes measured over time.