Tag Archives: Elizabeth Sargent

Chalk talk: Coccolithophores

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If you read my previous post on the interesting article about coccolithophore species-specific growth responses to environmental change, you may have been left wanting to know more about coccolithophores in general.  I don’t blame you.  Coccolithophores are pretty awesome. Continue reading Chalk talk: Coccolithophores

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Using the past to predict the future of coccolithophores

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Some of the most progressive and interesting science happens when experts from different fields come together to tackle the same problem. Recently a group of plankton ecologists teamed up with some palaeontologists to assess how climate change impacts the growth of specific species of coccolithophores, both in modern times and during  a period of warming 56 million years ago. They showed that two species of coccolithophore responded very differently to this event. Continue reading Using the past to predict the future of coccolithophores

Collecting snow in the tropics

R/V Atlantic Explorer at sea

After 2 months of packing, planning, prepping, and fretting, I finally boarded a plane to Bermuda in mid August to take part in a research cruise aboard the R/V Atlantic Explorer. This was set to be the third and final research expedition of my PhD, and I had firm plans to tie up some loose ends from previous sampling and to [hopefully] confirm a few hypotheses I’ve been juggling about for the past year. Like any research expedition, we faced a few hurdles with engine troubles and impending tropical storms, but managed to leave port only 2 days late, and were able tack on an extra day of sampling on the end to make up for lost time. All in all there was no harm done, except maybe to my ever-dwindling research training and support grant, which certainly took a few hard knocks with flight changes. Continue reading Collecting snow in the tropics

Challenger 2012 (Selected keynote lectures): Phyllis Lam (Max Planck Institute) – Microbial nitrogen cycling in oxygen minimum zones


The 15th Biennial Challenger Conference for Marine Science recently took place at the University of East Anglia in Norwich, on 3-6 September 2012. There were over 100 talks, 150 posters, a contentious debate on wind power, and a talk on how the UK can maintain its current research infrastructure. Over the next week or so Words in mOcean will be bringing you a recap of the best of the action, starting with four of the keynote lectures. Today’s recap is on the lecture given by Phyllis Lam, titled ‘Microbial nitrogen cycling in oxygen minimum zones’. Enjoy! Continue reading Challenger 2012 (Selected keynote lectures): Phyllis Lam (Max Planck Institute) – Microbial nitrogen cycling in oxygen minimum zones

Marine nitrogen fixation: the players

This is the second of two articles written by Elizabeth Sargent on the marine nitrogen cycle; the first article covered some of the basics and can be found here

A trichodesmium 'puff'. Oh, and watch out for this image in the April version of Scientific American

There are three main groups of nitrogen fixing organisms in the ocean: filamentous, heterocystous, and unicellular diazotrophs. The unicells are relatively new to the research scene (discovered in 1998), and are difficult to image due to their size, distribution, and our lack of knowledge about their lifestyle. I have some epifluorescent microscope images of unicellular diazotrophs, but you can get a good idea of what that looks like by picturing the night sky; it’s a whole lot of darkness and some tiny yellow dots. Continue reading Marine nitrogen fixation: the players

The marine nitrogen cycle

This is the first of two articles to be written by Elizabeth Sargent on the marine nitrogen cycle; the second article will go into more depth on nitrogen fixers (or, as Liz refers to them: ‘the diazotrophic organisms I hold near and dear’).

The marine nitrogen cycle (modified from http://bit.ly/wC3xZo)

The marine nitrogen cycle is one of the most complicated biogeochemical cycles in the ocean.  Nitrogen is a biologically limiting element and changes in its form, or concentration, can cause changes in the cycling of other elements, such as carbon and phosphorus. Marine nitrogen cycling has been and will continue to be an integral component of ocean biogeochemistry, so everyone should know at least the basics. Continue reading The marine nitrogen cycle

Living at sea: a clever solution to overpopulation or an unrealistic fantasy?

After last month’s population milestone caused a lot of chatter about the consequences of continual unchecked population growth, there is no better time than now to begin considering where we’re meant to house people when space gets tight. Admittedly the problem is more about consumption and waste production than it is about physical space, but ideas for branching out and inhabiting new areas should be explored…and some, like this one, are downright amusing. A skyscraper competition in 2010 (via http://www.evolo.us/competition/water-scraper-underwater-architecture/; see image below) fuelled the imagination of some well-meaning architects, highlighting the idea of a self-sustaining floating city of sorts: the hO2+ scraper (which I assume is supposed to translate to waterscraper…shudder).

Continue reading Living at sea: a clever solution to overpopulation or an unrealistic fantasy?