Our gear was deployed early in the day so we got a good running start at the science end. On previous deployments the box corer has actually broken, it’s smashed up against rocks and got rather seriously mangled. Having had a look up close at the corer it should be noted that smashing it is not an easy task. It’s a serious piece of kit. We did get a bit of time up on deck, which was an awesome break from watching the insides of a microscope, got to see some of the bird life.
During the night we got up every 3 hours to measure the oxygen with a small fibre optic laser and the temperature of the bath of water that the cores are sitting in. No reset for the wicked as they say, although this data should give us some interesting information. More details are given below.
Now to really understand what we are doing today we have to read a paper, which we were supposed to read before we got on the ship but it all seemed to be a little alien to me and it’s making much more sense now we are doing something similar. So here’s some notes from the paper below. Have fun!
We’ll start with “Carbon cycling by seafloor communities on the eastern Beaufort Sea shelf”, as you can guess it’s about benthic carbon cycling. We did a little piece the other day about the importance of this for the global climate system, so we’ve already established that it’s a good thing to understand. Who doesn’t want to be able to pick up cute girls/fellas at parties with a solid understanding of carbon cycling? The story behind this paper is that the sea floor in the Beaufort Sea Shelf area is punching above its weight when it comes to cycling carbon. It’s actually a really important part of the carbon cycle up here, as are a number of geographical features such as shelfs and areas around polynas. Their productivity (activity, actions) make up for the lack of productivity in some of the areas with less exciting geography and less dramatic relief (ie. The flat bits).
Evidence of this productivity can be seen just by an increased amount of wildlife activity in the area. It should also be noted that the Arctic is different to other food chains globally. In the Arctic energy travels quickly from the small animals up to the big animals, whereas energy in other food systems travels much slower.
So now you have the background of why this research is done. Now on to the Methods, we are doing something so similar to what is described in the paper that you might be suspicion were it not for the fact that the people who wrote the paper are also the people who are running the cruise.
So, there’s what I have already described, the collection of the core samples, and now we are onto analysing these samples. Part of the slices will be popped into a tube with some acetone (already done and sitting in the fridge), this is done to extract the “pigments” which are then analysed with a flurometer as they are and then after acid is added.
Whilst this is happening some of our cores are “incubating”. So some of the tubes, as seen above, are being bubbled with water collected from the bottom of the ocean. This is being done to test how much oxygen the benthos is using. How much do those little fellows breathe? The paper we are reading did something a bit cooler, they collected one individual from each species they observed on the sea floor and popped that into the tube to see how much that creature was breathing.
And so the story con