My role in EPOCA Arctic
I am involved in the benthic part of EPOCA running in May this year (2009). I will be in the arctic from the very start of the trip, as myself and Helen Findlay will be setting up the seawater acidification systems in the laboratory supplying all the scientists with seawater of different pHs and temperatures for their experiments (service 1). I will also be conducting research once everything is set up: investigating the effect of elevated CO2 and temperature on metabolism, calcification and regeneration capacity (regrowth of arms) in a brittlestar that lives buried in the sediment on the seafloor (study 8). The brittlestar species I will look at is closely related to another species that I have already studied back in the UK, so I will be able to compare the response of arctic and temperate species. I will also be looking at fertilisation success and gamete development in a range echinoderm species (brittlestars and sea urchins) (study 10).
My thoughts on the trip
This will be my second trip to Ny Alesund in the arctic, as I also went up for a month in August 2008. I am looking forward to going back – particularly because we are going much earlier in the year and there will be far more snow than last time! It is going to be hard work but we have the advantage that it will be 24 hour sunlight so we will hopefully have time to explore and enjoy our special surroundings.
More about my research
I study the physiological effects of increasing ocean acidity and temperature on marine organisms – primarily ophiuroid brittlestars. I look at the effects on metabolism, growth, reproduction, calcification, regrowth and functional recovery (as brittlestars are echinoderms they are capable of regrowing their arms). I am in the final year of my PhD at Plymouth Marine Laboratory now so this research in the arctic will be among the last experimental work of my PhD, and in the mean time I am writing up and publishing the rest of my work – and resisting the urge to do “just one more thing” in the lab!