Wednesday, 14 June 2017

The start of a major new research project (ORCHESTRA): Part 2...by Carol Arrowsmith

Mel carefully collecting
sea water samples for
carbon measurements.
The British Geological Survey (BGS) is a major partner in a scientific programme called ORCHESTRA (Ocean Regulation of Climate through Heat and carbon Sequestration and Transport) which has been running for over a year. The project aims to improve our ability to understand and predict the role of the Southern Ocean currents to modulate global climate. The BGS’s contribution to this research is to analyse the oxygen and carbon isotope composition of the ocean waters from the World’s oceans over a 5 year period. In particular the carbon data will be used to investigate where carbon is ether absorbed by the ocean or expelled into the atmosphere. This is particularly important as the oceans regulate atmospheric CO2.  

Over the last year we at the BGS have been very busy analysing transects of the oceans to track currents and understand where freshwater enters the oceans through the oxygen chemistry. Very soon we will start measuring the carbon. As several laboratories are involved in the carbon analysis we need to check that we all get the same results. So we needed to collect an average water to distribute to all the labs involved...

Carol working at the mobile lab
once we were back on land. 
In May during a mini heat wave, myself and Melanie Leng set off on a trip to collect an average sea water. Our closest coast (North Norfolk) was chosen. We booked a couple of slots on a fishing boat and sailed about 2 miles from the coast. We carefully collected the samples for the different labs while being watched by a dozen tourists who were there for the fishing. These samples have now been packed up and sent around the world. At the BGS we have started our measurements, and look forward to receiving the data from the other labs. Being able to reproduce sample analysis within a single laboratory and also checking different labs get the same data from comparable samples is an important step in any experiment design.

The ORCHESTRA project is led by Prof Mike Meredith at the British Antarctic Survey. For further details please go to our website.

Twitter @ORCHESTRAPROJ
Facebook: Orchestraproject






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