Blog: Tights and Mosquito Nets

Tights and Mosquito Nets – Elise Droste


Three days into the PS117 expedition and I’ve finally managed to find some time to start this blog! I’ve just come from the Zimmertal, which may have helped the inspiration along. For those who haven’t sailed on the RV Polarstern before, Zimmertal (a German word, the meaning of which I’ve been unable to find) is an evening at the bar with volunteers as bar tenders, music, and very, very invitingly priced drinks. It becomes challenging to convince people back home that actual work gets done on a ship with a gym, swimming pool, library, and bar, but perhaps if I stop mentioning those and focus on the science I might succeed.

Sunke (MSc student at Southampton University), Paul (PhD student at Scripps and representing SOCCOM), and I (PhD student at the University of East Anglia and representing the PICCOLO project on the ship) will be working closely together during this cruise. We have been released by our supervisors to run our work in their complete absence, using equipment we’ve never seen before, on a ship, in the middle of the ocean. And, it’s exciting!

So far things seem to be going well for us. 1) The biogeochemical Argo floats have passed the rigorous testing on the helideck of the ship docked at the port of Cape Town, in the sunshine, with Table Mountain looming in the background. 2) Sunke and I have taken our first oxygen and dissolved inorganic carbon/alkalinity samples today and Sunke has also analysed the first oxygen samples. Even though we’re still getting used to the procedures, we’re pretty chuffed with the progress.

Sampling for the first time from the CTD was as stressful as I had imagined, especially with the high water demand for some depths. The contrast is laughable between Sharyn, who moves through the movements – including opening a terribly fiddly tap – all with just one hand and the elegance of a gazelle, while I become a hazard as soon as I open the Niskin bottle. Anyone within a radius of 2 metres runs the risk of getting their face squirted with seawater retrieved from a depth of 5000 metres.

(For those of you reading this and are unfamiliar with the CTD: it stands for “conductivity, temperature, and depth” as it is a device that measures these parameters when it is lowered into the ocean by a winch. Also mounted on it are 24 bottles that close at different depths and thereby collect water samples. Once back on deck, we each sub-sample from these bottles for our own analyses and experiments.)

One of the first CTDs from the Alfred-Wegener Institute (leading this expedition) being hauled out of the water after reaching a depth of 5000m.


It’s incredibly interesting to learn about what other research groups on the ship are doing, most of which is so far outside of my own field that I would barely come into touch with it otherwise. On a research ship, you get to see how various groups set up their labs in the most creative ways. For example, we share a lab with a group working on microplastics, and a mosquito net seems to be an important part of their set-up. Besides keeping Antarctic mosquitos (?) away from their important science, it apparently reduces microplastic contamination by an amazing 80%! However, when a pair of tights turned up among our equipment, I felt like the mosquito net hanging in the lab was perhaps not the craziest thing. Besides keeping my legs warm as temperatures drop, the nylon tights are great to put the HPLC filters in, before dunking it all into liquid nitrogen (my legs not included). The nylon does not become brittle in the extreme coldness of the liquid nitrogen, in which the filters are stored for later analysis of chlorophyll.

The next days will be interesting, as our luck with the great weather conditions may run out!

Testing the two biogeochemical SeaBird Navis floats on the RV Polarstern at Cape Town, with Table Mountain in the background.

Elise Droste is based at the University of East Anglia and is deploying the Argo floats from the RV Polarstern for the winter 2018/19, as part of the team working on the PICCOLO project in RoSES. She’s also taking DIC and total alkalinity samples to use in her PhD project about the carbonate chemistry of the seasonally ice-covered regions in the Southern Ocean.

Vacancy: Research Fellow in Ocean Biogeochemistry

Research Fellow in Ocean Biogeochemistry – Marine Biogeochemistry

Location:  National Oceanography Centre Southampton
Salary:   £30,395 to £32,236 
Full Time Fixed Term (until 30/04/2021)
Closing Date:  Monday 28 January 2019
Reference:  1090018HN

We are looking to recruit a highly skilled individual to undertake a programme of research within a NERC funded project investigating the biogeochemistry of the Southern Ocean. The recruited Post-Doctoral Research Fellow will work on the influence of iron and other environmental conditions on phytoplankton community composition and elemental stoichiometry as a key component of the wider project ‘Carbon Uptake and Seasonal Traits of Antarctic Remineralisation’ (CUSTARD:, which itself forms part of the broader NERC RoSES programme ( .

Biogeochemical processes within the Southern Ocean form a key component of the global carbon cycle. However significant uncertainties remain concerning the controls on phytoplankton growth and consequent elemental cycling which form a major component of this system. Within this context, CUSTARD aims to collect, analyse and interpret new data within an important and highly under-sampled region.

You will have a PhD* or equivalent professional qualifications and experience in some field relating to biological and/or biogeochemical oceanography. You would be expected to participate in the project’s dedicated research cruise to the Pacific sector of the sub-Antarctic Southern Ocean in late 2019, subsequently leading analysis and dissemination of key aspects of this research. Knowledge or experience in at sea experimental work, trace metal clean sampling, phytoplankton photosynthetic physiology and/or at sea primary production measurements would be advantageous.

You will work at the National Oceanography Centre Southampton in Ocean and Earth Sciences and join an active group studying the role of phytoplankton in the global oceans and links to the cycles of carbon and nutrients in the Earth system.

This post is available until the 30/04/2021 from April 2019.

*Applications will be considered from candidates who are working towards or nearing completion of a relevant PhD qualification. The title of Research Fellow will be applied upon completion of PhD.  Prior to the qualification being awarded the title of Senior Research Assistant will be given.

Southern Ocean sessions at the 2019 EGU GA – abstracts 10/01/19

There will be two sessions on the Southern Ocean at next year’s EGU General Assembly (7-12 April 2019). The submission deadline for abstracts is 10 January 2019, 13:00 CET.

OS1.5/BG3.3/CL2.04 “The Southern Ocean in a changing climate: open-ocean physical and biogeochemical processes”

The Southern Ocean around the latitudes of the Antarctic Circumpolar Current is a key region for the uptake, storage and lateral exchanges of heat, carbon and nutrients, with significant impacts on the climate system as a whole. The role of the Southern Ocean as a sink of anthropogenic carbon and heat and as a source of natural carbon in present and future climate conditions remains uncertain. To reduce this uncertainty, understanding the processes underlying the Southern Ocean internal variability and its response to external forcing is critical. Recent advances in observational capabilities, circulation theories, and numerical models are providing a deeper insight into the three-dimensional patterns of Southern Ocean change. This session will discuss the current state of knowledge and novel findings concerning the role of the Southern Ocean in past, present and future climates. This includes e.g. studies of physical, biological and biogeochemical ocean processes as well as of ocean-atmosphere interactions.

Solicited speaker: Anja Studer, University of Basel, Switzerland

Conveners: Lavinia Patara, Judith Hauck, Dan Jones, Chris Turney

Abstract submission:

OS1.6/CR6.2 “Under cover: The Southern Ocean’s connection to sea ice and ice shelves”

In recent years the interaction between the ocean and the cryosphere in the marginal seas of the Southern Ocean has become a major focus in climate research. Questions such as “Why does Antarctic sea ice not decline?”, “What controls the inflow of warm water into ice shelf cavities?”, and “How does this affect ice sheet stability and sea level?” have attracted scientific and public attention. Recent advances in observational technology, data coverage, and modeling provide scientists with new opportunities to understand the mechanisms involving ice-ocean interaction in the far South much better. Processes on the Antarctic continental shelf have been identified as missing links between the cryosphere and the deep open ocean that need to be captured in large-scale and global model simulations. This session calls for studies of the Southern Ocean’s marginal seas including the Antarctic continental shelf and ice shelf cavities. Physical and biogeochemical interactions between ice shelves, sea ice and the open ocean are of major interest, as are consequences for the greater Antarctic climate system. This includes work on all scales, from local to basin-scale to circumpolar. Studies based on in-situ observations and remote sensing as well as regional to global models are welcome. We particularly invite cross-disciplinary topics involving physical and biological oceanography, glaciology or biogeochemistry.

Conveners: Torge Martin, Xylar Asay-Davis, Nadine Steiger, Ralph Timmermann

Abstract submission:


Blog: Stumbling into the Southern Ocean like a boss (or not)

Angela Bahamondes Dominguez – PhD student (National Oceanography Centre, Southampton)

As a Chilean, I have heard many people telling stories about Magallanes waters and their isolated, harsh, yet amazing landscapes. Since my grandfather and my father that navigated these regions, I am today as an oceanographic modeller (observational oceanographer by heart) on my first cruise: DY096. I can say that the struggle is real: you will get seasick! If you are fortunate enough, you might just walk through the corridors of the ship with the hope you will not fall, as I have done a couple of times already.

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Angela in calm waters (image courtesy Angela Bahamondes Dominguez)

I think that for a person that works with computers to understand the ocean, it is also relevant to understand that modelling can’t be done without observations and observations can’t give you complete answers without models. It is not an easy business, yet here we are after two storms, still standing and with high energies for the last days of the cruise before returning to Punta Arenas, expecting to collect more data.

In my first cruise, joining Discovery and its friendly crew on a quest into the Southern Ocean, I have learned not only about the science, but also about life at sea. I was promised adventure and I wasn’t disappointed!

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Image courtesy Angela Bahamondes Dominguez

Blog: At 55°S 90°W, the mooring is deployed!

Sheri White – Mooring lead (Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute)

The Ocean Observatories Initiative (OOI) is a US National Science Foundation (NSF) funding program to create a permanent long-term presence in the ocean for scientific measurements. OOI consists of a number of arrays of mooring and vehicles – a regional Cabled Array off of the US West Coast, 2 Coastal Arrays off of the US East and West Coasts, and 3 Global Arrays. The Global Arrays are located in the Irminger Sea, south of Greenland, in the Gulf of Alaska, and in the Southern Ocean west of Chile. All of the data collected is made freely available to the public

The OOI Southern Ocean Array, consisting of 1 Surface Mooring, 3 Subsurface Mooring, and autonomous gliders, was first deployed in March 2015. It was redeployed in December 2015, and November 2016.  In 2017, the NSF elected to discontinue operations at the Southern Ocean Array site.  However, the recovery cruise in November 2017 was unable to recover all of the moorings due to weather conditions.

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The OOI surface mooring (image courtesy Eleanor Haigh)

On the DY096 CUSTARD Cruise, we have deployed a new Surface Mooring at the Array, integrated with 2 lab-on-a-chip sensors (for nitrate and silicate) developed at the National Oceanography Centre in Southampton. This mooring will collect measurements for a year until we return in January 2020 to recover it.

The OOI Southern Ocean Array location is one characterized by strong air-sea interaction and wintertime water mass formation. It is thus at a location important to understanding the large-scale global thermohaline circulation. It is also an exceptionally data sparse region historically, lacking observations of the surface meteorology, air-sea fluxes, variability of the water column physics, chemistry, and biology.

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Sheri White overseeing deployment of the mooring (image courtesy Eleanor Haigh)

Blog: A word from the Woods Hole mooring team

Steve Caldwell-Surface Mooring Lead, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute

My name is Steve Caldwell from Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. I am the Surface mooring lead for OOI (Ocean Observatories Initiative) on this cruise.  My role is to ensure the proper operation of the surface mooring. That includes such items as: all CPU’s are operating, all telemetry is operating and calling back to land so that we can provide real time data, all meteorological instrumentation is operating and providing correct readings.  I am also in charge of all electrical and mechanical components on the mooring, from the computers that control the instruments and mooring power consumption, to the clamps that retain the instruments, to the proper operation of the IMM wire.

B4 Mooring and balls_rLeft: The OOI mooring on deck. Right: The 64 glass balls that will bring the mooring back up to the surface next year during a second cruise (images courtesy Eleanor Haigh)

I am super stoked about being able to come back to the Southern Ocean and put the mooring back in.  This is a super interesting spot for science and to be a part of the engineering aspect of this project is honestly an honor.  Being able to work with the other groups such as yours makes it even more exciting, certainly the ability hear what other science communities think of our program and how much that appears to mean to them gives more fuel to my fire.  I personally really appreciate the presentations on CUSTARD’s work that were shared with us the other day.  You guys are doing some really cool stuff and it’s great to be a part of it.

Blog: Out into the Pacific Ocean

Alan Wright – PhD Student (National Oceanography Centre)

On the 28th November 1520 Ferdinand Magellan first passed through the waters below South America, that now bear his name. By some lucky quirk of fate, RRS Discovery was sailing through the Magellan Strait exactly 498 years later.

Magellan was so low on rations that his crew were eating leather by the time he entered the strait. However life on the Discovery could not be more different. At least three fantastic meals a day, each meal consisting of multiple courses keep the scientists and support crew energised and motivated.

B3 Magellan_rThe dramatic landscape of Magellan Strait (image courtesy Angela Bahamondes Domniguez)

Magellan named the Ocean he found to the west of the straits ‘pacific’, meaning peaceful or tranquil, however the Discovery found a different ‘pacific’ …the boat started rolling for the first time and some people new to the ocean paid traditional homage to the sea gods.

Luckily we are still in Chilean national waters and had no real duties to perform. Hopefully all sea legs will have been found by tomorrow.

Blog: Underway through the Magellan Strait

Eleanor Haigh – Masters Student (University of Southampton)

And we’re off! Discovery set sail for 55oS 90oW at 6am today, with the orange glint of sunrise still cast over Punta Arenas we headed into the Magellan Strait. Our passage here has been lined with snow-capped mountains, blue skies, and a handful of marine mammals, and with a lot of set up already completed many of us were able to enjoy some time taking in the spectacular views. As one of the less experienced members of scientific crew on board, I’ve been warned that this beautiful route is quite an exception, and that I shouldn’t expect the calm waters and warming sunshine to continue for much longer as we head into the Pacific. For now it’s safe to say the obsessive screwing, duct taping, and zip-tying of equipment to our lab benches, which we undertook in the past few days, seems a little excessive, but I have no doubt it will become necessary later in the cruise once the weather picks up.

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Beautiful scenery through the Magellan Straight and Eleanor demonstrating that it’s not quite as warm as the photos suggest (image courtesy E. Haigh)

The next few weeks, for me at least, will be a huge learning curve, as this is my first scientific cruise out to the open ocean. I’ll be working with the team responsible for taking measurements for the calibration of the mooring sensors, and also conducting small scale experiments to contribute towards my dissertation, which so far has been focussed on data from the past four years of the mooring series. Witnessing the immense amount of effort that goes into deploying the mooring and collecting said data has been amazing. From the lead scientists, to the ships cook, or the engineers, to the captain, sitting at my desk in Southampton, working through measurements the mooring has made, I would have never imagined such a busy operation happening every year. With high hopes of initial scientific work starting in a few days, I can’t wait to be a part of it!

Blog: Preparing to sail

Adrian Martin – Principle Scientist for RoSES

It seems like it’s been a long time coming, but we’re finally in Punta Arenas and just a couple of days off sailing, to begin the year-long study of how marine life in the Southern Ocean helps the ocean take up and store carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Today the last equipment came on board, including the huge buoy and mooring that we will be deploying at 55°S 90°W. Between now and Wednesday we’ll be setting up labs and equipment, making sure they are secure against what the weather might send our way. All the team are now on RRS Discovery, and hopefully you’ll be getting their individual perspectives over the next couple of weeks.

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The buoy and mooring being loaded onto RRS Discovery (image courtesy E. Haigh)

As Principle Scientist my main job at present is not to get in the way, while the specialists get everything in order; filter rigs, oxygen analysis equipment, incubators and gliders to name but a few. Then on Wednesday, we’re due to be off, heading west along Magellan Strait into the Pacific, then southwest into the Southern Ocean, keeping fingers-crossed for the following two days, in the hope that when we finally arrive at our study site the weather lets us get cracking from the off.

Vacancy: Senior Research Associate in Ocean Biogeochemistry

Senior Research Associate in Ocean Biogeochemistry (Ref: RA1564) University of East Anglia: Faculty of Science – School of Environmental Sciences  – closing date 8 January 2018 (£33,199 – £39,609 per annum, pro rata)

Applications are invited for the post of Senior Research Associate (SRA) to undertake research on the ocean carbon sink and downward carbon transport in sub-polar waters of the Southern Ocean. The SRA will work with Dorothee Bakker on the consortium project CUSTARD (Carbon Uptake and Seasonal Traits of Antarctic Remineralisation Depth,, 2018-2022). CUSTARD is part of the National Environment Research Council (NERC) RoSES (Role of the Southern Ocean in the Earth System, research programme.

The Southern Ocean south of 35°S takes up about 40% of the carbon dioxide (CO2 ) emitted by human activity. Much of this uptake occurs north of the Polar Front, in the upper limb of the Southern Ocean overturning circulation. The CUSTARD project aims to quantify the impact of nutrient and iron availability on phytoplankton carbon uptake in these sub-polar waters and the transport of carbon to depth away from atmospheric contact on climatically important timescales, using a combination of numerical and observational (shipboard and autonomous) techniques.

The SRA will participate in the planning and delivery of carbonate system measurements for the full water column on the CUSTARD research cruise (November 2019 to January 2020) and the CUSTARD mooring recovery cruise (January 2020). The SRA will combine these observations with year-round sensor data from the mooring and autonomous robotic gliders and will assist with calibration of sensors on the mooring. The SRA will quantify seasonal CO2 air-sea fluxes and the contribution of the solubility, carbonate and soft tissue carbon pumps to seasonal carbon dynamics and downward carbon transport. The SRA will publish the scientific results in international peer reviewed journals.

The research will be based within the Centre for Ocean and Atmospheric Sciences (COAS) at UEA. It will be carried out in collaboration with CUSTARD scientists and project partners, and where appropriate with other RoSES scientists. The SRA will be expected to participate in the CUSTARD research cruise and the mooring recovery cruise in the remote Southern Ocean, subject to a medical and sea survival training.

You will have a minimum of a PhD in biogeochemical oceanography, environmental, chemistry, chemistry (or equivalent independent research experience) and a scientific publication record showing evidence of international quality. The SRA should have excellent oral and written communication skills, with experience of presenting results at conferences and be able to fulfil all essential elements of the person specification.

This post is available from 1 April 2019 on a full time or part-time 0.8FTE basis for a fixed term period of 2 years (or longer for part-time).

Closing date:  8 January 2019. To apply for this vacancy, please follow the online instructions at:

The University is a Bronze Athena Swan Award holder, currently working towards Silver