biological carbon pump

Scientist Spotlight – Meet Biological Oceanographer Dr Nathan Briggs

Dr Nathan Briggs

Our ocean offers a potential buffer against climate change. It takes up and stores carbon dioxide from the atmosphere in a process known as the biological carbon pump. Without life in the ocean providing this pump scientists think atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations could be 50% higher than they are even now.

Plankton stores more carbon as Earth’s climate warms, but storage beyond end of the century is uncertain

Surface phytoplankton captures carbon, stores it in cell walls, and transfers it to the ocean deep after the algae die. How might the seasons affect this process? Image: NOAA National Ocean Service/Wikimedia Commons, public domain.

Researchers at the University of Bristol, the National Oceanography Centre (NOC) and other UK institutions predict that the amount of carbon stored by microscopic plankton will increase in the coming century.

NOC-led study paves the way for future climate models

The National Oceanography Centre (NOC) has led a study to investigate gaps in knowledge of the biological carbon pump, in the hope of prioritising which aspects should be included in future climate model developments, and the observations necessary to achieve that.

Human activities are the main driver of ocean warming and acidification

Underwater gliders deployed from RRS Discovery contributed to global research on the ocean carbon cycle. (Credit: Filipa Carvalho, as part of GOCART Project)

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has today (9 August 2021) released its next report; the Working Group I contribution to the Sixth Assessment Report (AR6).

Expedition sets sail to investigate carbon in the Benguela upwelling

Research at sea

On 23 May 2018 the Royal Research Ship (RRS) Discovery will begin an ambitious science expedition to the South Atlantic to study the role of low oxygen zones in ocean carbon storage. The results of this investigation will help improve understanding of how the ocean’s biology contributes to the long-term storage of carbon in the ocean.

Major European grant using autonomous technology awarded to NOC Scientist

Glider ballasting ready for deployments later this year

NOC oceanographer Dr Stephanie Henson has been awarded a major research grant from the European Research Council (ERC).

Scientists discover new variability in iron supply to the oceans with climate implications

Phytoplankton bloom in western South Atlantic Ocean (credit: NASA)

The supply of dissolved iron to oceans around continental shelves has been found to be more variable by region than previously believed – with implications for future climate prediction.