Last year the OCE directorate at the National Science Foundation reinstated their postdoctoral research fellowship program whereby applicants vie for two years of postdoctoral salary and a small research budget. This program supports a wide range of early career researchers (ECR) and allows many to pursue exciting, and potentially novel research. I am proud and thankful to say that I’ve been afforded one of these opportunities.
As a carbon biogeochemist, my project centers of direct observations of particle export (via sediment traps) within the Northern Gulf of Alaska. Sinking bits of carbon, commonly referred to as marine snow, are important for (A) supplying organic matter to ecosystems in the deep ocean, (B) removing carbon and nutrients from the surface ocean, and (C) our understanding of how chemical and biological transformations interaction within the physical ocean.
More specifically, this project will leverage sediment trap deployments with targeted biological incubations and data synthesis/modeling with respect to silicon distributions and production within the region. Armed with these data, I hope to be address the following hypotheses:
- Seasonal diatom blooms disproportionally increase euphotic zone export yielding higher export efficiencies relative to annual and interannual variability
- Episodic and physically predictable (i.e. circulation of water masses) iron-limitation leads to excess silica uptake and subsequent mineral ballasting by diatoms resulting in high export efficiencies in low productivity waters
- Phytoplankton community composition drive regional patterns of export production and export efficiency
- Zooplankton fecal pellets are the primary pathway of gravitationally settling organic matter
- Lateral transport of particulate and dissolved organic matter provide nutrient and export subsidies to offshore and less productive water masses
Here is a shopping list of measurements and experiments that I hope to contribute to the Northern Gulf of Alaska LTER site. While not all of these parameters will be measured every time, they will be important components of the system to constrain.
Parameters in green are those that I will add through this project, while the grey ones are those that are already collected through the LTER program.
While the project is just starting, I have been fortunate enough to receive support through the NGA LTER site for the past year and a half and so have 5 cruises worth of sediment trap samples in hand. I am personally excited to see how this project evolves over the coming year as we build capacity in my lab and at sea through additional support from NSF, NASA, and NPRB. If you are interested in this work and looking towards graduate school, consider reaching out to discuss MS and PhD opportunities in my lab!