How does climate change affect the export of phytoplankton to the seafloor?

Start/End: February, 2017 to January, 2018

Episodic pulses of phytoplankton from the surface to the deep ocean are thought to be globally common but are poorly quantified due to a lack of observations. This study will use sediment trap samples from the deep ocean time-series study at Station M in the California Current to identify how the supply of phytoplankton to this coastal, deep ocean location has changed across variable climate regimes and how these changes affect benthic (seafloor) ecosystems. Quantification of phytoplankton within sediment trap samples will be related to the carbon export, benthic respiration, and surface ocean properties.  These data will help identify ecological mechanisms responsible for observed changes in deep carbon export at this coastal location and help to improve the accuracy of models used to predict the coastal carbon cycle, hypoxia, and ocean acidification.  Data will be submitted to the National Centers for Environmental Information and results will be shared at interdisciplinary conferences.

Co-principal Investigators