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)

Draft infographic illustrating the range of modelling and observational activities being undertaken through BIOPOLE.

BIOPOLE Sets up Modelling-Observations Working Group

The Modelling-Observations Working Group (WG) was established following the first BIOPOLE annual meeting to enhance the links between the modelling work and observational campaigns. Regular meetings between modellers at NOC and BAS had been taking place since the start of the project to ensure a synergy in modelling effort across the institutes. However, there was a clear need for an equivalent forum for the exchange of ideas and information between modellers and observationalists in the BIOPOLE community, hence the Modelling-Observations WG was formed. The WG now involves 19 members from all four work packages with representatives from NOC, BAS, CEH, and Exeter University. Meetings of the full WG currently take place approximately every 6 months, with more focussed monthly meetings targeting specific work packages or work streams.

The main aims of the WG are as follows:

  • Identify links between modelling efforts and encourage collaboration.
  • Discuss data needs of modelling efforts and identify sources (databases or field campaigns).
  • Identify data gaps to inform targeted data collection and fieldwork planning.
  • Identify opportunities for integrating modelling efforts with observational data to inform interpretation of key processes.

Contributing to the last of these aims, collaborative work involving NOC modellers and biological oceanographers is ongoing to understand the processes involved in generating regions of de-oxygenation in the Chukchi Sea, which were identified in the recent Chukchi Sea cruise. Such regions may impact the regional ecosystem and dependent fisheries and it is important to understand the underlying physical and biogeochemical processes.

One of the key outputs of the WG so far has been the development of new BIOPOLE infographics that capture the range of modelling activities being undertaken and how they link to the observational campaigns. Drawing on Jen Freer’s creativity and mastery of PowerPoint, two draft designs have been developed; the first is targeted at a general audience (Figure 1) whilst the second provides a more detailed picture of the modelling work and is suitable for a more specialist audience. The draft designs may be found on the BIOPOLE shared drive in the Modelling-Observations WG directory, and we would welcome feedback from the BIOPOLE community. The intention is to produce infographics that broadly follow the design of the BIOPOLE concept graphic. The designs will be professionally produced and will be available for use in posters, talks, and other promotional activities.

Figure 1: Draft infographic illustrating the range of modelling and observational activities being undertaken through BIOPOLE.

The author of the article – Emma Young (British Antarctic Survey)

RV Polarstern through the fog

BIOPOLE at the North Pole

On the 2nd August 2023, I (BIOPOLE researcher Dr Kathryn Cook, University of Exeter) joined the RV Polarstern in Tromsø, along with project partners Morten Iversen and Sinhue Torres-Valdes (AWI), to participate in the 9-week ArcWatch 1 (PS138) cruise to the central Arctic.  The overall aim of the 50 scientists participating on the cruise was to study the physics, chemistry, and biology of the sea ice, but I was invited along to collect samples to help address BIOPOLE WP2 deliverable ‘What controls the depth at which polar copepods diapause, and their physiological rates during overwintering?’.

I used a Hydro-Bios Midi Multinet (thanks to project partner Barbara Niehoff, AWI) to sample the important Arctic lipid storing copepods Calanus hyperboreus, Calanus glacialis, and possibly the northern North Atlantic interloper Calanus finmarchicus (we’ll have to wait for molecular confirmation to find out) throughout the upper 1500m of the water column.  I was also able to take samples from immediately below the sea ice using a net attached to an ROV affectionately known as ‘The Beast’.  We took samples at 9 ice stations, including the MOSAiC station and the North Pole.  These samples will be used to quantify the biomass (carbon and nitrogen), lipid content and composition, and estimate the metabolic rates using enzyme assays (Electron Transport System (ETS) activity as a measure of respiration rate; Amino-Acyl-t-RNA-Synthetases (AARS) activity as a measure of growth).  These data will be used to inform life-cycle food-web models and will be available to WP3 to help develop simplified, global parameterisations of the lipid pump and improve estimates of the amount of carbon sequestered in the mesopelagic ocean.

First steps on the ice. Kathryn Cook (University of Exeter)

As well as being very successful scientifically, this cruise was, by far, the most exciting research trip I have been on in my career to date.  Just getting out on the sea ice was amazing, but we also had helicopter excursions to measure ice thickness, a polar bear coming to play with ‘The Beast’, live footage of sea mounts and hydrothermal vents courtesy of the OFOBS (Ocean Floor Observation and Bathymetry), live music courtesy of The ArcWatchers (featuring project partner Morten Iversen) and of course being, literally, on top of the world.  We were accompanied by a media team who wrote regular social media posts, blogs (Arctic August – October 2023 – AWI Polarstern) and German newspaper articles, as well as a documentary film crew.  The documentary ARCWATCH – HOPE IN THE ICE was broadcast on 29 December 2023 at 9:45 p.m. by German broadcaster ARD and is available (in Germany) in the ARD Media Library.  There should be an international version released at some point, so watch this space.

Wrestling ‘The Beast’ with net into a hole in the ice to sample under ice copepods. L-R Kim Vane (AWI), Emiliano Cimoli (University of Tasmania), Marcel Nicolaus, Julia Regnery (AWI).

The author of the blog – Kathryn Cook (University of Exeter)