Meet the Team

Aidan Hunter

  • Please introduce yourself.

I’m an ecological modeller working with the Ecosystems team at British Antarctic Survey in Cambridge. After a Masters in mathematics I applied for various environmental research roles, including modelling the fluid dynamics of wind turbine arrays, but eventually landed a marine science PhD in fishery statistics and modelling. This involved researching fishery-induced changes to the growth and maturation of commercially important species and developing a novel fish stock assessment model. My work has since focussed on fish food: plankton, particularly in the polar regions. I’ve developed a range of marine ecology models including an end-to-end ecosystem model, trait-based copepod model, and Lagrangian (particle-tracking) size-structured phytoplankton model. As part of my work with each of these, I devised numerical methods of tuning model parameters to produce statistically optimum fits to multiple data sets – making the models match observed reality. My favourite way of doing this is via Bayesian methods.

  • What do you do within BIOPOLE?

Within BIOPOLE, I’m part of WP2, working to create species distribution models to simulate how polar copepod’s horizontal and vertical distributions respond to environmental conditions. Of particular interest is a natural carbon storage process called the ‘lipid pump’, that is, the vertical transport of carbon during seasonal diapause when copepods overwinter in deep water. My models will simulate present-day vertical carbon transport associated with diapausing copepod species and, with reference to high-resolution climate forecasts courtesy of the PolarRES project, predict changes to the lipid pump under potential future climate storylines. My work so far has involved finding and collating as much polar copepod data as I can and using it to estimate parameters useful for other BIOPOLE modellers. Though a necessary first step, data wrangling isn’t what I most enjoy. I’m really looking forward to getting properly stuck in to the actual modelling, and have been contemplating adopting Bayesian methods for this work.

  • Tell us about a skill or trait unique to you that you would like to share?

I spend (too) much of my free time in summer juggling – six balls on a very good day. If you’re in Cambridge and the weather’s nice we can take some paraffin to the park and throw fire clubs, catching is optional. I also enjoy much merriment in the many fine old pubs Cambridgeshire has to offer.

Aidan Hunter from British Antarctic Survey