Dr Sinhue Torres-Valdes
Primary production in the ocean, and hence export production (the biological carbon pump), is limited by the availability of light and nutrients. Nutrients are compounds present in seawater that contain elements that are essential for life; for example nitrogen, phosphorus, silicon and carbon. It is therefore important to understand how these compounds are transported, distributed and utilised in the ocean.
Studying nutrients in the ocean requires multidisciplinary work, since the concentration of nutrients in seawater at a given point in the ocean results from the interaction of physical and biologically mediated chemical processes. Ocean currents, eddies, upwelling, and mixing are physical processes that move nutrients around in the ocean. Simultaneously, there are microorganisms (e.g., phytoplankton and bacteria) modifying the concentration of nutrients by using them for growth, transforming them and using them again (a process that we call nutrient biogeochemical cycling).
In addition to their biogeochemical function, nutrient concentrations in the ocean can be extremely useful, since water masses may have unique characteristic chemical properties. Thus, such characteristics can be used to trace the movement and modification of water masses in the ocean.
The research I am involved with requires close collaboration with physical oceanographers, modellers and biological oceanographers. It is by joining efforts that we can achieve a comprehensive understanding of biogeochemical cycling in the ocean and its impact on the planet's climate.
My main interest include cycling and transports of dissolved inorganic nutrients and dissolved organic nutrients in the ocean, and the use of nutrient concentrations to trace water masses. I am particularly interested in Nutrient Biogeochemistry of Polar Oceans, and of these, the Arctic Ocean.