Sampling across the Atlantic Ocean for heat and carbon…by Chris Kendrick

Chris in the Stable Isotope Facility
In a few days I will be embarking on an epic 7 week journey across the Atlantic as part of a major project called ORCHESTRA (Ocean Regulation of Climate through Heat and Carbon Sequestration and Transport), one leg of the project which will be sampling the World’s oceans over the next few years. I will be joining the RRS James Cook in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil on 24th February and cruising across the South Atlantic Ocean, staying close to the 24oS parallel and finally docking in Cape Town, South Africa on the 11th April.

As part of BGS’s contribution to the project I will be collecting water samples throughout the journey to bring back to the stable isotope laboratory where we will analyse the samples for oxygen and carbon isotopes. I will be collecting samples from approximately 150 sampling sites from 24 different depths, giving a total of 3600 samples (that is a lot of bottles)!  The data produced will help us trace marine currants and see where carbon and heat is either absorbed by the ocean or is expelled. This is particularly important due to current increases in atmospheric CO2.

In December my sampling kit (neatly packed away in 7 metal boxes) was sent off to Southampton to be loaded onto the RRS James Cook, the boat has since took off on a scientific cruise around the Caribbean and will then make its way to Rio where the scientific crew will change over. The first couple of days will be spent unpacking and setting up scientific kit. Then on the 27th an outreach event is planned around the signing of a high level Brazil-UK agreement for a year of cooperation in science. The excitement is building! I will blog again when on the ship…
The RRS James Cook
ORCHESTRA is led by the British Antarctic Survey. More about ORCHESTRA can be found here. Full details of the ORCHESTRA programme, including the detailed descriptions of the fieldwork and model developments, are available in the Case for Support.