The University of Southampton
Ocean and Earth Science, National Oceanography Centre Southampton

Dr Stephanie Henson 

Research Scientist

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Dr Stephanie Henson is Research Scientist within Ocean and Earth Science, National Oceanography Centre Southampton at the University of Southampton.


Nov 2012 – present: Research scientist, National Oceanography Centre
Nov 2009 – Oct 2012: NERC Postdoctoral Fellow, National Oceanography Centre
Jan 2008 – Oct 2009: Associate Research Scholar, Princeton University
Jan 2006 – Dec 2007: Post-doctoral Researcher, University of Maine
Oct 2000 – Oct 2002: Programme manager for Earth Observation Science at NERC, Swindon


Oct 2002 – Oct 2005: PhD Oceanography, National Oceanography Centre, Southampton
Oct 1999 – Oct 2000: MSc Oceanography, National Oceanography Centre, Southampton
Oct 1995 – Oct 1998: BSc in Physics with Space Science, University of Leicester

I lead an active research group in global biogeochemical oceanography, currently made up of 1 post-doctoral researcher and 4 PhD students. During my research career, I have made contributions to the understanding of the physical processes that alter phytoplankton populations and subsequent impacts on the biological carbon pump. I am also developing my research profile in the field of detection of climate change-driven trends in ocean productivity. My research exploits satellite and in situ data, as well as output from biogeochemical models, and so involves collaboration with a large network of international colleagues. In 2012, I received the EGU’s Arne Richter Award for Outstanding Young Scientist for my ‘fundamental contribution to the study of marine ecosystems’.




Research interests

  • Biological response to changes in physical forcing - how do climate-scale perturbations impact the ecosystem?
  • Seasonal and interannual variability in meteorological conditions and impact on phytoplankton populations
  • Physical controls on timing and magnitude of spring blooms
  • Using satellite data to provide spatial and temporal context for in situ measurements
  • Temporal and spatial scales of variability in phytoplankton distribution
  • Tracking mesoscale eddies and their influence on biological populations

I'm a research scientist at the National Oceanography Centre Southampton, leading an active research group in global biogeochemical oceanography. In 2012, I received the EGU’s Arne Richter Award for Outstanding Young Scientist for my ‘fundamental contribution to the study of marine ecosystems’.

My research interests broadly centre around ecosystem response to perturbations in physical forcing. I’m currently working on assessing the possible role that variability in phytoplankton dynamics could play in determining the efficiency of carbon export. I'm particularly interested in how natural decadal variability (such as the North Atlantic Oscillation) alters phytoplankton bloom characteristics. I mostly use satellite data for my studies and I've become interested in understanding whether the the 10+ year ocean colour record we have is long enough to be able to distinguish global warming trends from natural variability. The short answer seems to be 'no', but I'm interested in learning about how best to analyse the data we do have so that we can readily detect trends in ocean primary productivity, and attribute them to anthropogenic climate change.

I use all kinds of satellite data, mostly ocean colour, combined with in situ data, model output, anything I can get my hands on! The great advantage of satellite data is that we get repeated, high resolution images - the downside is that we end up with mountains of data that have to be distilled into something useful. I use statistical techniques such as EOFs and wavelet analysis, and also have developed algorithms for estimating the start date of a spring bloom, time series of Sverdrup's critical depth and locating and tracking eddies. I'm also interested in using satellite data in new ways - for example, to derive estimates of nutrient concentration or phytoplankton species composition.

Research group(s)

Marine Biogeochemistry


Book Section(s)

Dr Stephanie Henson
Student Office, Room 566/03 University of Southampton Waterfront Campus National Oceanography Centre European Way Southampton SO14 3ZH

Room Number: NOCS/494/15

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