Underwater expedition ties together physical, chemical and biological impacts of melting ice sheets
Press release issued: 31 August 2017
A group of international researchers have returned from a highly successful expedition to the Labrador Sea and coastal Greenland, led by scientists at the University of Bristol.
The aim of the expedition was to investigate the role of melting ice on the chemistry and biology of the oceans – to find out how melting ice supplies the essential nutrients that feed marine life.
She said: "We used cutting edge, automated equipment to make measurements and take samples.
"Two automated gliders were deployed, and took high resolution measurements of water temperature, saltiness, and particles in the water – including algae that take up carbon from the atmosphere and form the bottom of the marine food chain.
"A remotely operated vehicle, essentially an underwater robot that it controlled from the ship, took high-definition video images of biology on the seafloor, as well as samples of sediments and water."
The team’s preliminary results show that glacial channels in the shallow, continental shelf, fed low salinity waters into the open ocean, and that these channels are key in the distribution of nutrients and marine organisms.
The sediments within the channel are also likely to be important in supplying nutrients to the overlying seawater.
However, the scientists have a lot of data and many more samples to analyse before they can fully tie together the physical, chemical and biological impacts of the meltwater.
The expedition was on board the RRS Discovery, a ship operated by the Natural Environment Research Council in the UK. The research was funded by the European Research Council.
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The Cabot Institute carries out fundamental and responsive research on risks and uncertainties in a changing environment. We drive new research in the interconnected areas of climate change, natural hazards, water and food security, low carbon energy, and future cities. Our research fuses rigorous statistical and numerical modelling with a deep understanding of social, environmental and engineered systems – past, present and future. We seek to engage wider society by listening to, exploring with, and challenging our stakeholders to develop a shared response to 21st Century challenges. Find out more about our work at www.bristol.ac.uk/cabot