Skip to main navigationSkip to main content
The University of Southampton
Ocean and Earth Science, National Oceanography Centre Southampton

Research project: Significance of subsurface phytoplankton thin layers for primary production and the carbon cycle in UK summer stratified coastal and shelf seas

Currently Active: 
Yes

This project aims to monitor and sample subsurface chlorophyll thin layers in order to establish their community composition, levels of primary production, potential for export of organic carbon and factors affecting thin layer dynamics.

Subsurface chlorophyll thin layer observed offshore Falmouth in 2013
Subsurface chlorophyll thin layer observed offshore Falmouth in 2013

In seasonally stratified coastal seas, a subsurface chlorophyll maximum (SCM) 'thin layer' with associated increased abundances of phytoplankton is often detectable corresponding with the thermocline. Existing research on thin layers has suggested that these layers have the potential to significantly contribute to primary and export production. However, the relative importance of thin phytoplankton layers to water column primary production and export of organic carbon has not been previously investigated.

To fully recognise the importance of SCM thin layers in coastal water primary and export production, an understanding of the factors controlling/affecting the dynamics of these features, along with a knowledge of their community composition is also needed. Therefore, the main aims of this projects are:-

 

Marine Snow Catcher deployment to determine carbon export rates
Marine Snow Catcher deployment to determine carbon export rates

1. To investigate the community composition of subsurface chlorophyll thin layers in a UK coastal sea.

2. To determine levels of primary production (new and regenerated) in thin layers and how thin layers contribute to primary production over the entire water column in a UK coastal sea.

3. To determine the composition and rates of carbon export from sub-surface chlorophyll thin layers in a UK coastal sea.

4. To investigate the effect of environmental factors on thin layer dynamics in a UK coastal sea.

Recent monitoring of the western English Channel has revealed the annual occurrence of intense and persistent sub-surface chlorophyll thin layers. Consequently, the majority of monitoring and sampling for this project is being conducted in the western English Channel, offshore of Falmouth.

 

 

Ceratium fusus, a dominant dinoflagellate in SCM thin layers in 2015
Ceratium fusus, a dominant dinoflagellate in SCM thin layers in 2015

Key Contacts

Michelle Barnett

Professor Duncan Purdie

Professor Alan Kemp

Dr. Anna Hickman

PhDs and Other Opportunities

Visit GSNOCS

Share this research project Share this on Facebook Share this on Twitter Share this on Weibo
Privacy Settings