Meet the Team 

Andrew Yool

  • Please introduce yourself.

I’m a marine biogeochemistry modeller working within the Marine Systems Modelling team at the National Oceanography Centre (NOC) in Southampton.  

  • Tell us about your professional and academic career before becoming part of the BIOPOLE Community. 

Way back in the last century, I originally trained as a real biologist working across the botany and zoology groups at the University of Dundee. However, I’d also always enjoyed mathematics at school, so when I came to pick a doctorate, I chose a marine ecology modelling project at the University of Warwick – well-known for its proximity to the ocean! After completing that, I was lucky enough to get a position at NOC, working with the Great God of Plankton Modelling, Mike Fasham, on large-scale carbon cycle modelling. I’ve been here ever since, gradually moving from work using simpler models (GENIE) through ocean general circulation models (OCCAM, NEMO) to Earth system models (UKESM1). 

  • What do you do within BIOPOLE?   

I’m involved in two parts of WP3 of BIOPOLE. The first is focused on adding the process of diapause to the large zooplankton of MEDUSA, the marine biogeochemistry model that I lead development of at NOC. This process essentially allows zooplankton such as copepods to hibernate in relative safety away from the risky surface ocean. Because of this, it’s implicated in the transfer of carbon to the deep ocean, and we’d like to quantify just how important it is for this. That said, although I’m leading this work, it’s my NOC colleague – Julien Palmieri – who’s actually doing the hard work of coding and testing the diapause model that I’ve designed. Separately, and based in part on my experience with the UK’s Earth system model, UKESM1, I’m assisting with a separate WP3 modelling activity to understand nutrient import/export from the polar regions and the potential effects on productivity at lower latitudes. 

  • What have you enjoyed about BIOPOLE so far? 

It’s a cliché, but it’s mostly been about the people so far for me. Although there’s a lot of sloshing about in UK oceanography, and I have tended to bump into many people down the years, I’m finding myself working with new colleagues in BIOPOLE. Partly it’s down to the greater biological focus of my involvement with the project, but a big dollop of luck has been important too. And I’ve really enjoyed meeting and interacting with my new colleagues. Particularly around designing the diapause model that we’re building for BIOPOLE, we’ve really benefitted from having the team around us that the project has assembled. 

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

Largely for historical reasons, oceanography is a subject that draws people in from across the natural sciences – and, increasingly, from the social sciences too. As a result, there are a lot of unique people in the field in the UK today. All of which makes for a really enjoyably diverse group of people with wide-ranging experiences, skills and perspectives.  

Dr Andrew Yool from National Oceanography Centre 

Flying the Polar Flag at the UN Ocean Decade Conference 2024

Amongst 1500 other delegates from around the world, Jen Freer (BIOPOLE Project Member, BAS), Amy Swiggs (BIOPOLE Project Member, CPOM) and Nadine Johnston (BIOPOLE Project Member, BAS), were lucky enough to be selected to attend and present at the first UN Ocean Decade Conference held in April 2024 in sunny Barcelona.  The vision of the UN Ocean Decade is to generate “the science we need for the ocean we want”. The aims of this conference were to bring the global Ocean Decade community together, to celebrate and take stock of progress, and set joint priorities for the future. As an official Decade Action, we were there to showcase BIOPOLE’s research efforts and highlight how our science aligns with many of the Decade’s priorities and recommendations.

We were set to work from day 1 – as soon as we passed security, found our way around the 4-floor venue and located the coffee, Amy set up her fantastic BIOPOLE poster which attracted plenty of attention throughout the week. Nadine then presented work on ICED (a BIOPOLE Strategic Partner) and participated in a panel discussion in an on-site Satellite Event ‘A decade of international action in the polar oceans. Others on this esteemed panel included Anton Van de Putte (BIOPOLE Strategic Partner, ULB), as well as Antje Boetius (director, AWI), Alfredo Giron (World Economic Forum), and Salome Mormentyn (Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation Polar Initiative), chaired by Stephanie Arndt (AWI) and Renuka Badhe (BIOPOLE Strategic Partner, European Polar Board). This set of talks led to a fascinating discussion around the future of polar research, the ongoing need for standardised high-quality data, and even greater collaboration between nations and disciplines such as arts and humanities, where the work of BIOPOLE was also highlighted as an excellent example.

A newly drafted set of white papers detailing how to succeed in achieving each of the Decade’s 10 challenges were key talking points of the conference. To round off day 1, Jen presented a quick-fire talk as part of a parallel session dedicated to Challenge 2: protect and restore marine ecosystems and biodiversity. It was fantastic to remind the audience of the importance of the polar regions and to ensure their representation in the Challenge 2 ambitions alongside the coastal and coral reef environments.

There were more interesting talks and policy discussions on day 2 of the conference, including on developing a sustainable and resilient ocean economy, and solutions for coastal resilience. There was also time later in the afternoon to see more of sunny Barcelona and enjoy some delicious Catalan cuisine.

On the final day of the conference, we all helped to represent JETZON (the Decade Programme which BIOPOLE sits within) at the “Deepening the Decade” booth – one of many stalls within the wonderful banquet hall. This stall was organised by the Deep Ocean Stewardship Initiative (DOSI) and arguably had the most beautiful artwork to attract passers-by! Our job was to engage with delegates about the deep ocean, particularly talking about how projects such as BIOPOLE and JETZON are tackling issues in deep sea science and are leading in developments to overcome them (e.g. observing and modelling nutrients, zooplankton and carbon transport to deep waters). We had many interesting and insightful discussions with other conference members about the importance of these key climate processes. We also test ran the BIOPOLE animation led by Clara Manno (BIOPOLE Project Member, BAS).

The plenary talks from each day (including those from various Heads of State and UN special envoy for the Oceans Ambassador Peter Thomson) can be viewed again here and a short highlights video here. The main outcome of this event was the Barcelona Statement which identifies priority areas for action for the Ocean Decade in the coming years. The conference was hugely successful and a wonderful way of showcasing the fantastic work of BIOPOLE to the wider scientific community and policymakers. We enjoyed the opportunity to experience the interaction of science and policy and discuss the importance of science and communication in achieving these outcomes. Thank you to BIOPOLE for encouraging and giving ECRs the opportunity to attend such an important event.

The authors of the article – Amy Swiggs (Northumbria University), Nadine Johnston and Jen Freer (British Antarctic Survey)

Joint BIOPOLE – ACEAS Workshop

BIOPOLE Science Partner, Philip Boyd (Australian Centre for Excellence in Antarctic Studies, ACEAS, and the Institute for Antarctic Marine Studies, IMAS), and BIOPOLE Project Members, Nadine Johnston and Geraint Tarling, co-convened a two-day workshop ‘East meets West – A joint BIOPOLE-ACEAS Workshop to strengthen international circumpolar collaborations’ 14-15 March 2024 at the Institute for Antarctic Marine Studies, IMAS, and the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), Hobart, Tasmania, Australia.

The workshop was kindly hosted by Philip and held under the auspices of the BIOPOLE East-West Antarctic Forum, which fosters greater international collaboration across the Southern Ocean with partners, institutes, and initiatives with similar research objectives.

The workshop gathered BIOPOLE Community members (including Aidan Hunter, and contributions from Angus Atkinson, Programme Advisory Board member) and around 30 ACEAS researchers to consider similarities and differences between the Scotia-Weddell Sea and East Antarctic regions (zones and provinces, processes) and different approaches to understanding their ecology, biogeochemistry and nutrient cycling, and progressing modelling and observations in the regions.

The workshop also explored future opportunities for collaborations including the UN Decade of the Ocean, IPY etc.) and outputs are in preparation. A huge thanks to Philip, Nicole Hill, Elizabeth Shadwick, and the rest of the ACEAS participants for their incredible hospitality and contributions. Aside from the impressive presentations and volume of science discussions we managed to get through in two days, an additional highlight was the amazing workshop dinner served on the balcony of IMAS overlooking Sullivans Cove and Kunanyi/Mt Wellington on a gloriously sunny evening!

The authors of the article – Nadine Johnston, Geraint Tarling and Aidan Hunter (British Antarctic Survey)

7th ICES/PICES Zooplankton production symposium attendees

BIOPOLE at the 7th Zooplankton Production Symposium 

Aidan Hunter, Nadine Johnston, Dan Mayor, Kathryn Cook and Geraint Tarling attended the 7th ICES/PICES Zooplankton Production Symposium in Hobart, Tasmania (17-21 March 2024). The conference was packed with sessions of direct relevance to BIOPOLE research, particularly on understanding the ecology of calanoid copepods and the contribution of zooplankton to the biological carbon pump.

The BIOPOLE researchers each gave well received oral presentations. Aidan talked about his data mining, parameterisations and modelling of the copepod Calanoides acutus at a session on the dynamics and role of diapausing copepods in marine ecosystems. Nadine spoke on knowledge gaps and research priorities in zooplankton research at a session on zooplankton in a changing Southern Ocean. In other sessions, Dan talked about stoichiometry modelling and Kathryn, some associated work with the COMICS programme on carbon budgets. Geraint gave a keynote talk considering biogeographic shifts in copepod species in the Arctic and potential impacts on the lipid pump there.

Geraint Tarling, Vicky Fowler (BAS Post-doc), Aidan Hunter and Nadine Johnston at a reception

The BIOPOLE researchers also took part in a number of satellite workshops covering zooplankton trait data and time-series. Also notable was a zooplankton art session that commenced with the reading of a poem on zooplankton vertical migration by BIOPOLE WP2 co-lead, Jen Freer, entitled “A tale of Light and Fear”.

The symposium proved useful in assessing the latest methods and findings in zooplankton research and in establishing further collaborative links for the BIOPOLE programme. 

The symposium attendees

The author of the article –  Geraint Tarling (British Antarctic Survey)

Meet the Team

Adrian Martin

  • Please introduce yourself.  

I am Dr Adrian Martin and I’m based in the Marine Systems Modelling group at National Oceanography Centre (NOC)

  • Tell us about your professional and academic career before becoming part of the BIOPOLE Community. 

Like many in oceanography I have been environmentally recycled from another field. One of the great things about marine science is that it attracts so many different backgrounds. My background is more in physics and I benefitted from the open-mindedness of marine scientists who gave me a chance to apply my numerical skills to ocean ecology problems after my PhD and I’ve been at NOC ever since – longer than I choose to remember. Despite being originally being employed as a modeller and sitting in a modelling group, oceanography encourages multidisciplinarity and I was on my first cruise within the first year at NOC and have even been chief scientist on a cruise a couple of times now. 

  • What do you do within BIOPOLE?  

Within BIOPOLE I jointly lead WP3 with Andrew Meijers. This WP is focussed on the global impacts of changes at the poles.  I am also lead for the NOC involvement in BIOPOLE. As a result my role is largely managing – I don’t get to do the really exciting stuff – but it does give me a great vantage point to see how the many components of BIOPOLE are slotting together to produce something truly impressive. 

  • What have you enjoyed about BIOPOLE so far? 

A highlight so far has been the Arctic work. When writing the proposal for BIOPOLE we recognised the huge amount of activity and infrastructure already present in the Arctic and approached a number of groups to suggest collaborations. They were incredibly welcoming and helpful, providing access to cruises and facilities way beyond anything we could have afforded ourselves and welcoming us to the wider Arctic scientific community. In return I hope we are adding some great complementary science to their activities. Watching this generous and inclusive example of scientific collaboration across nations develop has been wonderful. 

Dr Adrian Martin from National Oceanography Centre 

BIOPOLE at the Netherlands Polar Day

Kate Hendry attended the Netherlands Polar Day on April 23rd in the Museon-Omniversum in The Hague. The NL Polar Day, arranged by the Dutch Research Council (NWO)’s Netherlands Polar Programme team, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Association of Polar Early Career Scientists (APECS), every year brings together researchers from around the Netherlands from universities, research institutes, tourism and industry who are interested in all things Arctic and Antarctic. The Netherlands have a strong history of polar research, and rely on international collaborations for infrastructure access: in the Arctic this is largely through their links with the Alfred Wegener Institute (AWI) in Germany, and in the Antarctic through their Memorandum of Understanding with BAS. For example, Rothera hosts the Dirk Gerritz lab, which was built in 2012.

This year’s NL Polar Day was ably hosted by Sietze Norder from the Copernicus Institute of Sustainable Development at Utrecht University, and featured a plenary talk by René van Hell, the Netherlands Ambassador for the Arctic. Kate gave a presentation in the first of the parallel sessions, updating a packed room on the new BAS Science Strategy and giving some recent highlights from Rothera including the glider operations, the atmospheric aerosols lab, and the Windracer autonomous aerial vehicle (thanks to BIOPOLE’s Hugh Venables, as well as Tom Lachlan-Cope and Tom Jordan for their input!).

The poster session featured APECS members as well as more established scientists. Kate also gave a poster on the broader aims of BIOPOLE, and was able to engage with a number of existing colleagues and new contacts on the project objectives and successes so far.

Photo: NL Polar Day 2024 by Tom Doms

The day finished with a fully immersive IMAX Arctic experience in the Omniverson, including a “close encounter” with a polar bear (thankfully virtually!), and a drinks reception in the museum.

Photo: NL Polar Day 2024 by Tom Doms

The author of the article – Kate Hendry from British Antarctic Survey

Meet the Team 

Laura Taylor

  • Please introduce yourself.

I’m Laura Taylor, a PhD student at BAS working on Southern Ocean biogeochemistry. My work involves exploring the interactions between the carbon and silica cycles across Southern Ocean environments, particularly in relation to different sources of nutrient input to the ocean from ice. Before starting my PhD and joining BIOPOLE, I completed my undergraduate and masters degrees at UEA

  • What do you do within BIOPOLE?  

Within BIOPOLE, I am in work packages 1 and 2, with the majority of my PhD work being included in these areas. My main contribution to the project so far has been organising the biogeochemical cycling on the Southern Ocean BIOPOLE I cruise, where I coordinated a group of PhD students to collect samples across 12 parameters as we completed a transect from the open ocean into the sea ice. 

  • What have you enjoyed about BIOPOLE so far? 

So far, the cruise has been a massive highlight, but I have also really enjoyed being a part of the BIOPOLE community, especially the ECR Network which is a brilliant space for getting to know researchers in other areas. 

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

I’m not sure I have any particularly unique traits, but when I’m not doing science I love to go scuba diving as much as I can (although less in landlocked Cambridge), finding good local coffee, and gardening. 

Laura Taylor from British Antarctic Survey 

BIOPOLE Session at the Arctic Science Summit Week 2024 

Alanna Grant, ECR, from UK Centre for Ecology & Hydrology hosted a BIOPOLE special session at the  Arctic Science Summit Week in Edinburgh in March 2024. The session focused on the work completed by WP1 in Ny-Ålesund, Svalbard, in July 2023. Presentations were given by Bryan Spears, Alanna Grant, Amy Pickard, Kate Hendry, Justyna Olszewska, and Isabelle Fournier and the session was chaired by Rebecca McKenzie. Interpreted results were presented from analysis of greenhouse gases, metals, algae process experiments, and physical and bio-optical properties of Kongsfjorden. River discharge was highlighted as a crucial knowledge gap, and ideas were discussed as to how this could be solved in the future. The session attracted a multi-national audience and provided a great opportunity to share our results with the wider arctic research community and foster new networking and collaboration opportunities.  

The second part of the session saw invited speaker, Peter Nienow from the University of Edinburgh, present on his previous work in Greenland. This was the basis for a productive interactive discussion amongst session members relating to how BIOPOLE could expand its arctic efforts into Greenland whilst providing maximum scientific impact and value.  

The author of the article – Alanna Grant from the UK Centre for Ecology & Hydrology

ASM 2024 Participants

BIOPOLE Annual Science Meeting 2024

The 2nd BIOPOLE Annual Science Meeting took place from the 6th to the 8th of March 2024 at the British Antarctic Survey in Cambridge and online. BIOPOLE Project Members, Early Career Researchers (ECRs), Members of the Programme Advisory Board (PAB), Science and Strategic Partners were invited to participate. Around 50 in-person and 13 virtual participants attended the hybrid BIOPOLE Annual Science Meeting.

The meeting spanned through three days and was filled with fruitful discussions, great scientific talks, exciting presentations, interesting keynotes and much more. All sessions were chaired by BIOPOLE Early Career Researchers (ECRs).

The first day kicked off with the project overview and work package presentations, where all four BIOPOLE work packages (WPs) (WP1 – Inputs, WP2 – Processes, WP3 – Impacts, WP4 – Management) presented the progress of work.

The poster session followed. After the poster session, quick-fire talks took place, after which we had a discussion.

The second day started with the ECRs’ breakfast. After the breakfast, Guang Yang delivered a keynote on ‘Zooplankton mediated carbon pumps’.

Next, we learned about the major BIOPOLE fieldwork efforts in Arctic (Arctic ships), Ny Alesund, and Southern Ocean (BIOPOLE Cruise I).

Presentations on data management, the Decade Collaborative Centre for the Southern Ocean Region (DCC-SOR), and Arctic policy were delivered, along with updates from the ECRs.

We then had four breakout sessions before lunch and four afterward. After the breakout session, Katrin Linse delivered a keynote on ‘Benthic elements of BIOPOLE’. We closed the day with the Executive Board and Programme Advisory Board meeting.

The third and the last day of the meeting started with the ECR-led session on the ‘Imposter syndrome: taming your inner critic’. Following that, we heard the rapporteurs’ reports from the breakout sessions and engaged in a discussion. Further, the PAB delivered an insightful report for the project. Before we concluded the meeting, we had a couple of discussion sessions on ‘Interaction with partners and within the project to achieve key BIOPOLE objectives in Arctic and Antarctic’ as well as ‘BIOPOLE into the future and lessons learned’.  

We would like to express our gratitude to every single individual for their work in BIOPOLE and for their participation in the meeting be it in-person or virtual.

The author of the article – Ruta Hamilton (British Antarctic Survey)

SD033 crew and science party at one of the sea ice stations

BIOPOLE Southern Ocean Cruise 1 Successfully Completed

British Antarctic Survey recently led the highly successful BIOPOLE Southern Ocean Cruise I (Nov-Dec 2023), which was the first ‘formal’ scientific voyage of the RRS Sir David Attenborough (SD033). Taking place over 10 days in an otherwise logistic-heavy six-week schedule, BIOPOLE I was the first funded scientific project undertaken on our new research vessel. The objectives of this cruise addressed a range of Tasks under Work Packages 1-3. It sought to understand the role that annual sea ice retreat plays in setting the conditions for the spring bloom and how this bloom acts to draw down carbon from the atmosphere and sequester it in the deep ocean. In addition, the fortuitous placement of the A23a megaberg allowed us to undertake opportunistic sampling of how the colossal chunk of the Filchner ice shelf, first calving in 1986, is modifying the physical and biogeochemical properties of the surrounding ocean as it moves northwards. This ‘encounter’ with the world’s largest iceberg and the associated drone footage also generated massive media interest across the globe.

BIOPOLE I was undertaken by an 11-person science team, including BIOPOLE scientists Andrew Meijers (Principal Scientific Officer, physics), Nadine Johnston (ecosystems), Gabi Stowasser (ecosystems), Alex Brearley (gliders), Petra ten Hoopen (data manager), and BIOPOLE PhD student Laura Taylor (biogeochemistry), brilliantly supported by BAS Antarctic Marine Engineering, IT, data and lab management personnel, during an intense 10-day period in early December. The small team was ably backed up by significant shore-based support, both for glider piloting but also troubleshooting, sample and data processing. The survey section stretched across the rapidly retreating ice edge from the northwest of the Powell Basin to well into the Weddell Sea and 100% pack ice; and back out again. Over 1640 individual water samples were taken from the more than 30 CTDs, along with 10 Mammoth and almost 30 Bongo net deployments. The voyage also deployed three autonomous gliders, including two capable of novel under-ice navigation. These presently remain in the water  following the development of the spring bloom and further retreat of the ice, and are providing greater spatio-temporal context to the ship-based process study.  Additionally, personnel were craned onto the sea ice to collect sea ice cores in support of BAS PhD projects, and a mooring rescued at short notice from the path of A23a.

SD033 crew and science party at one of the sea ice stations

BIOPOLE I’s objectives were to determine the dynamics, biogeochemical composition and structural change in the upper water column as the ocean moves seasonally from being fully ice covered to fully exposed, as well as determine the structure and composition of the spring phytoplankton bloom and associated mesozooplankton community, particularly the copepod Calanoides acutus. The emphasis on copepods is part of the core BIOPOLE objective of quantifying the lipid component of the biological carbon pump. Over the course of their development, C. acutus develop a large carbon-rich lipid sac, primarily to fuel their metabolism and aid buoyancy during their winter diapause (a form of hibernation used to survive low food levels and avoid predation) at depths of (potentially) up to 2500 m.  This deep diapause acts to transport carbon from the atmosphere to the deep ocean, but this transport has never been quantified despite the vast biomass that copepods represent.

Using a combination of respiration experiments together with investigations of their lipid sac concentration and size, population structure, distribution, and abundance, we can determine how much carbon this species is capable of transporting to the deep ocean, and its influence on nutrient recycling in the upper water column. The results of this cruise will be complemented by work carried out in the austral summer of 2022/23 onboard RRS Discovery (DY158) and a further BIOPOLE cruise in the austral autumn of Feb/Mar 2025 onboard RRS Sir David Attenborough where the late season condition of copepods will be assessed.

Despite fears of ‘first cruise’ teething issues the ship and personnel performed near perfectly.  The SDA demonstrated its great capabilities; switching speedily between logistics and science, and easily handling challenging ice conditions, all whilst providing an unprecedented level of comfort for expeditioners!  As ever a massive thank you must go to the officers and crew of the SDA, for delivering successful science with enthusiasm and skill, as well as to the science and support party who pulled together and supported one another at all times to produce some excellent and exciting new data.

BIOPOLE also attracted extensive media coverage during this cruise. The opportunistic science carried out at megaberg A23a had a high media profile, with the article initially in BBC News online leading to a number of further interviews by the global press of a number of scientists on board. These included lengthy interviews with Andrew on the BBC news channel and news hour as well as CBS streaming news, Laura on CBC News Canada, and Alex on CNN’s Tik Tok channel! Nadine gave interviews on the BIOPOLE 1 cruise and A23a on BBC Science in Action, BBC Inside Science, and BBC’s World tonight. Nadine also participated in STEM learning’s 2023 Protecting Our Planet Day Protecting Our Ice Session which was led by BAS PhD student Rosanne Smith and broadcast live from the RRS SDA and Rothera Research Station, and viewed by 54, 696 people (51,600 young people and 3, 096 adults).

Cruise track of SD033, with the inset showing the location of BIOPOLE I science across the sea ice edge

The authors of the article – Andrew Meijers, Nadine Johnston, Laura Taylor, Gabriele Stowasser, Alexander Brearley, and Petra ten Hoopen from British Antarctic Survey