My role in EPOCA arctic
I will help Frederic Gazeau to conduct experiments on the effect of ocean acidification on the functioning of soft bottom sediments (studies 1 and 2). We will incubate sediment samples under different levels of acidity for more than a month and quantify the fluxes of the different compounds (dissolved nitrogen or carbon) and the potential alteration of these fluxes by seawater acidification. More specifically, my role will be to continue the experiments after Fred leaves the base. We will take care that the water flow above the sediment samples is constant (using small pumps) and that the pH conditions above the sediment are the same than in the big header tanks. Once a week, we will close the seawater flow from the big tanks and incubate each sediment sample in the dark for 24 hours. By measuring the concentration of different compounds in the overlying water before and after these 24 hours incubations, it will be possible to estimate what has been produced and/or consumed by the sediment at the different pH levels. At the end of the experiment (after one month), we will have a closer look at the biology in the sediment samples and quantify the capacity of the animals to mix and irrigate the sediment. As part of service 2, we will also help to organise and measure the seawater carbon chemistry in the header tanks and provide results to all the participants involved in these studies.
My thoughts on the trip
This is going to be my first Arctic experience. This is what I expect it to be: a great experience!! When the opportunity to be part of such a big project came to me, I took it at once, without even thinking about it. I want it to be a great scientific, human and personal event. It is going to be a great opportunity to share and enjoy science with a lot of great colleagues, the chance to see the natural, environmental true face of the BIG North. I’m very confident that the hard work made by all the people involved will pay off with very good data, a bit of fun and great astonishment for a place which I’ve always only dreamt about.
More about my research
I’m a PhD student at the NIOO, the Netherlands, in the department of Ecosystem Studies, supervised by Jack Middelburg. My project has been founded in the frame of a Darwin program and aims to study the carbon processing by eukaryotes, bacteria and archaea in deep sea benthic environments. I’m trying to focus on a particular niche, to understand the role the protistan community plays in the sedimentary microbial loop. My work involves using all the possible modern techniques to investigate the sediment: developing and using biomarkers (PLFA, Carbohydrates), stable isotope tracers, as well as molecular techniques in order to understand processes, identify and quantify the players, and finally recreate the food-web structure.