Preparing for the return to the non-austral world ("já sentindo saudade"!)

The expedition is now almost at the end and we are heading back to Punta Arenas, where everything started almost 2 months ago. It was a long and fulfilling experience, resulting from the enthusiasm of all the participants and of the overall good meteorological conditions that prevailed during most of the time. We have high expectations from this scientific collaboration, anticipating many discoveries in the context of the effects of climate change on the Antarctic marine ecosystem.

Multidisciplinary study of the Antarctic pelagic marine ecosystem

The last weeks of January 2019 were spent monitoring the surrounding marine environment north of the Antarctic Peninsula. On board the “Oncle Max” Polar Ship, we work in shifts of 12 hours in order to maximize the navigation and sampling time of this remote region. The water column has been sampled almost every day since, to investigate the distribution of biomass and composition of phytoplankton communities, including the biogeochemically important coccolithophores.

Greetings from Antarctica!

After crossing the stunning Patagonian channels of Chile and Argentina, we arrived at the Drake Passage expecting a more difficult navigation, given the strength of the currents and waves typical of this region. The ship rocked a bit more, leading some of our travel mates to "seasick" or to take refuge for longer periods in their cabins. But the DUSTCO/PROPOLAR team members withstood the swing, remaining awake and enthusiastic at the triumphal entry into the Antarctic Zone, crossing the 60ºS :-)

A new great adventure for DUSTCO's team: a polar expedition to the Antarctic Pensinsula!

We are starting the New Year with a great new adventure! On the 2th January 2019 we will sail from Punta Arenas (southern Chile) all the way south, through the Drake Passage, to reach the Antarctic Peninsula, on board the polar ship Almirante Maximiano in the context of the project PHYTO-NAP (“Phytoplankton response to climate trends in the Northern Antarctic Peninsula”). Why are we interested in the Antarctic Peninsula? Click here to know more about it :-)

New dusty-paper from Laura Korte on Biogeosciences Discussions!

We are pleased to announce that the most recent work from Laura Korte - “Effects of dry and wet Saharan dust deposition in the tropical North Atlantic Ocean” - is on Biogeosciences Discussions! In her paper, Laura shows results from three incubation experiments comprising Saharan dust additions to study the phytoplankton response to nutrient release in oligotrophic seawater in the tropical North Atlantic. Keep posted during the on-line scientific discussion! :)

Testing dust-fertilisation in the lab!

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.

All packed and ready to sail across the Atlantic, looking for coccolithophores and dust!

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! :) 

"Marine biogeochemical and ecological dimensions of a changing ocean" - a training course organised by IPMA and CCMAR!

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.

Preparing the seawater samples for the microscope analysis!

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. 

Strolling around one of the most arid places in our planet: Atacama Desert!

Since we were in Chile, we couldn't miss to travel further north and visit the amazing Atacama Desert, one of the most arid places on Earth. Dust lifted from the Atacama Desert is known to be incorporated into higher air layers and carried by the SE trade winds over and into the Pacific Ocean, similarly to what we known for the Saharan desert and the Atlantic.

Participation on DICE workshop "The Role of Dust in Climate Change: A biogeochemistry perspective"

We started 2018 in the best way possible by taking of the DICE workshop "The Role of Dust in Climate Change: A biogeochemistry perspective", in Las Cruces, Chile, 8-10 January. Scientists from all over the world and from different fields were participating, from biogeochemists, ocean and climate modellers.... to us, the "Dusty Gang" from the tropical North Atlantic!