Over the past week, some of DUSTCO’s team members gathered together in The Netherlands, to take part in the successful PhD public defense of Laura Korte, at the Vrije Amsterdam University, entitled “Saharan dust deposition in the equatorial North Atlantic Ocean and its impact on particle export fluxes”. Congratulations Frau Doctor Laura! :-)
We are currently preparing a coccolithophore batch-culture in which we will test the potential of Saharan dust as a nutrient fertiliser, in which we will use dust samples collected from the Saharan desert pre-adjusted to resemble dust that is naturally deposited in the ocean and leached in acidified ‘artificial rainwater’ for mimicking acid cloud processing. We started with Emiliania huxleyi – probably the most opportunistic of the coccolithophores – but hope to investigate other species as well in the future.
The departure day for the AMT28 has finally arrived! On the past 22th September, our young scientists Andreia Tracana and Afonso Ferreira have board the RRV James Clark Ross to start this amazing cross-Atlantic adventure. For the next 5 weeks, they will be daily monitoring the ocean and the atmosphere across the entire Atlantic Ocean.
We have just finished packing our beautiful old iron-boxes containing all the lab material for collecting coccolithophores (and dust!) all across the Atlantic Ocean, on board the RRS James Clark Ross (JCR) during the next AMT28 (Atlantic Meridional Transect). We will sail only later in the fall, but we are already super excited about all the discoveries yet to come! :)
Today I am sharing this wonderful image of a coccolithophore bloom! It was taken using and Scanning Electron Microscope (SEM) and shows a view of the surface of the ocean (10m water depth) at 2000x magnification. This plankton sample was collected offshore Cape Blanc (NW Africa) and represents the easternmost side of our transatlantic array!
Over the past week we had this amazing opportunity to be part of the Marine Biogeochemistry Training School on: Biogeochemical and Ecological Dimensions of a Changing Ocean", nicely organised by IPMA and CCMAR and hosted by The University of Algarve (Portugal). During the course we could learn from and discuss scientific ideas directly with big names in science such as Adina Paytan, Jerry McManus and Susanne Neuer.
The past few weeks were very busy preparing the plankton samples for the taxonomic microscope analysis and doing the first observations and counts. More than 100 slides were mounted at the Laboratory of Calcareous Nannofossils (Nanolab) at the Instituto Dom Luiz of the University of Lisbon, for the identification and quantification of the coccolithophore species thriving all along the the photic layer of the tropical North Atlantic.
A recent new article of the Journal of Geophysical Research, by A. Torfstein and S. Keenest, shows the the very first continuous comparisons between of daily atmospheric dust and ocean productivity in the Gulf of Aqaba’s nutrient-limited ecosystem, and concluded that they appear not to be correlated in this region.
Later in the fall of 2018, our colleague Andreia Tracana will have the amazing opportunity to join the forthcoming AMT28 expedition which will take place on board the RRS James Clark Ross (JCR) in the fall. AMT (Atlantic Meridional Transect) is a well-known scientific research programme hosted at the Plymouth Marine Laboratory in conjunction with the National Oceanography Centre.
MARE-FCiências.ID (Marine and Environmental Sciences Centre), a centre for research, technological development and innovation, will be hosting DUSTCO for the next couple of years. MARE’s fields of research traverse marine and environmental sciences aiming at understanding the patterns and processes influencing the functioning and evolution of biological diversity on the planet.