University of Exeter, Biosciences Department
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Bioavailability and biological effects of microscopic plastic debris in the ocean, in the Gulf of Maine (2013) and the Western English Channel (2015)
This project aims to provide an estimate of the extent to which microplastic concentrations are underestimated with traditional sampling. Sampling events focus on coastal waters, where microplastics are predicted to have the greatest influence on marine life, on both sides of the North Atlantic Ocean. Samples were collected in the Gulf of Maine (USA) in July 2013 and the western English Channel off the coast of Plymouth (UK) between July and September 2015. Microplastic debris was collected via surface trawls using 100, 333 and 500 micrometer nets. Data collection was funded by the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC Grant NE/L003988/1 and NE/L007010/1); University of Exeter and Plymouth Marine Laboratory collaboration fund; in-kind contributions from the ‘Rozalia Project’; March Limited of Bermuda philanthropic support.
The Catlin Arctic Survey created a unique collaboration between scientists and explorers to undertake field research in the Arctic. Each Catlin Survey comprised of two principle parts. The 'Catlin Ice Base', which was a stationary scientific research base located off the northern coast of Canada; and the 'Explorer Team', comprising of a small long-range specialist team moving on foot from close to the North Geographic Pole towards Greenland. The Catlin Ice Base consisted of temporary polar shelters and tents erected on the sea ice off the coast of Ellef Ringnes Island, Nunavut, Canada, 78°46'27" N / 104°42'49" W. In 2010 and 2011 during the second and third Catlin Arctic Surveys, scientists and explorers examined the upper layers of the Arctic Ocean's water column. In parallel, scientists from the US, UK and Canada conducted experiments at a unique research station on the frozen Arctic Ocean with the support of experienced polar explorers and guides. These datasets (as .xls and .csv files) resulted from the work carried out at the Ice Base. Here a group, of up to 10 scientists and operational staff, were able to collect and analyze samples from under the sea ice as well as deploy heavier instrumentation up to a depth of 200 metres. Scientists at the ice base made measurements of temperature, salinity, total alkalinity, DIC, nutrients, chlorophyll, zooplankton community structure and physiological responses to elevated pCO2 levels. The Catlin Arctic Survey has enabled the monitoring, measuring and collection of information to improve scientific understanding of the processes involved in, and the impacts of, climate change. The scientists researched how changes within the seawater beneath the floating sea ice may be affecting powerful ocean currents that influence prevailing climate and weather patterns worldwide. These data were collected as part of the Catlin Arctic Survey funded by Catlin Ltd. and coordinated by Geo Mission Ltd. Participants were supported by a Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) UK Fellowship, PML Lord Kingsland Fellowship, Ralph Brown Expedition Grant from the Royal Geographical Society, NERC's National Centre for Earth Observation, World Wildlife Fund for Nature and Fisheries and Oceans Canada.
The dataset comprises a diverse set of physical, chemical and biological data including: bacteria, carbon, chlorophyll, dissolved gases, light levels, nutrients, phytoplankton, productivity, respiration, salinity, temperature, trace elements and zooplankton. Measurements were gathered from the North Atlantic and Norwegian fjord waters between 1971 and 1998. The data arise from three sources: biological and hydrographic data collected between 1971 and 1975 at Ocean Weather Ship (OWS) India in the North Atlantic; conductivity-temperature-depth (CTD) casts, water samples, net samples and meteorological data from the four week Bergen Mesocosm experiment at Espegrend Marine Biological Field Station (Norway) in 1995; and the six week RRS Discovery cruise 221 to the North East Atlantic in 1996, where physical, chemical and biological data were collected. The data were collected using a variety of methods including: more than 500 CTD and SeaSoar profiles; nearly 1000 water bottle samples; over 600 net hauls; over 450 Secchi disk deployments; nearly 4000 multisizer samples; 23 production experiments; four drifting buoy tracks and 40 days of weather observations. The PRIME programme aimed to lay the basis for mathematical models to describe the role of plankton in biogeochemical fluxes within the oceans which have implications for climate regulation. The project was hosted by the School of Ocean Sciences, University of Wales, Bangor. Data management was undertaken by the British Oceanographic Data Centre and over 95% of the data collected are now assembled on a CD-ROM. The data are accompanied by an extensive users' guide (covering sampling protocol documentation), the structures used to store the data, and the data interrogation tools.
The cross-disciplinary themes will result in a diverse data catalogue. The ship collected data will be in the form of sea surface meteorology (2-D wind speed and direction, total irradiance, Photosynthetically Active Radiation/PAR, air temperature, atmospheric pressure, humidity); atmospheric carbon dioxide (pCO2); biological, chemical and physical properties and processes in the marine photic zone (carbonate chemistry - pCO2, total alkalinity, pH, DIC; dissolved gases - oxygen; nutrient concentrations, ammonium regeneration, nitrification, nitrogen fixation, zooplankon ecology, chlorophyll concentration, photosynthetic pigment composition, bacterial production, phytoplankton and bacterial speciation, concentrations of biogenic trace compounds such as dimethyl sulphide/DMS and dimthylsulphoniopropionate/DMSP, salinity, temperature, zooplankon ecology) and bioassays of these same parameters under different future IPCC CO2 and temperature scenarios. The long-term (18 month) laboratory based mesocosm experiments will include data on individual organism response (growth, immune response, reproductive fitness) under different future IPCC CO2 and temperature scenarios in rocky intertidal, soft sediment and calcareous biogenic habitats, as well as the effects on commercially important species of fish and shellfish. The analysis of sediment cores will provide greater resolution of the paleo record during the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM). Data will be used to aid the parameterisation of coastal and continental shelf seas (Northern Europe and the Arctic) model runs as well as larger scale global models. The shipboard fieldwork will take place around the UK, in the Arctic Ocean and the Southern Ocean. The mesocosms will look at temperate marine species common to UK shelf seas. Sediment cores have been collected from Tanzania. The models will look from the coastal seas of Northern Europe to the whole globe. Data to be generated will include data collected at sea, short-term (2-3 day) ship-board bioassays, from long-term (18 month) laboratory based mesocosm experiments and reconstructed paleo records from sediment cores. The 5 year UK Ocean Acidification Research Programme is the UK’s response to growing concerns over ocean acidification. Aims: 1 - to reduce uncertainties in predictions of carbonate chemistry changes and their effects on marine biogeochemistry, ecosystems and other components of the Earth System; 2 - to understand the responses to ocean acidification, and other climate change related stressors, by marine organisms, biodiversity and ecosystems and to improve understanding of their resistance or susceptibility to acidification; 3 - to provide data and effective advice to policy makers and managers of marine bioresources on the potential size and timescale of risks, to allow for development of appropriate mitigation and adaptation strategies. The study unites over 100 marine scientists from 27 institutions across the UK. It is jointly funded by Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) and Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC).