A group of biologists from DTU Aqua crossed the Atlantic in May 2013 on the Norwegian research vessel G.O. Sars as part of a European project, EURO-BASIN. Master student Frederik Wolff Teglhus has made a short film with footage from the trip– for instance explaining how counting the fecal pellets of zooplankton can help us understand climate change!
In May 2013 the Norwegian research vessel G.O. Sars crossed the Atlantic from Nuuk, Greenland via Iceland to Bergen, Norway to study the carbon cycle in the North Atlantic.
Together with the rest of the DTU Aqua team aboard, (Professor Torkel Gissel Nielsen, Senior scientist Sigrun Jonasdottir,
Ph.d. student Mette Dalgaard Agersted and Research Assistant Julie Cornelius Grenvald), Frederik Wolff Teglhus studied the effects of zooplankton, focusing on krill and copepods.
"One of the things we want to understand is the biological pump and the role of zooplankton, in transporting carbon from the surface waters down into the deep sea,” says professor Torkel Gissel Nielsen, DTU Aqua.
To understand this, the group sampled the most important zooplankton groups and studied their ingestion and egestion.
“It is crucial to learn how much they excrete, because when copepods excrete, they pack all the small algae in large fecal pellets, which sinks very rapidly,” explains Torkel Gissel Nielsen.
The pellets can sink at a speed of more than a 100 meters per day which means that the carbon packaged inside the copepods faeces is exported from the surface water much faster than the sinking algae would be on their own. As a result, carbon is sequested to the deep sea and away from the atmosphere.
The film also highlights how collaboration between different fields is vital to the success of a research cruise. For instance locating plankton in a 2 km deep ocean is not easy, but becomes manageable with the help of the experts in acoustics and hydrography.
About Frederik Wolff Teglhus:
Frederik Wolff Teglhus is writing his thesis on krill with Torkel Gissel Nielsen, DTU Aqua, as his supervisor. Apart from studying biology, Frederik has a strong interest in science communication and film making and runs a small film company called Wolff Film.
For more information:
Visit the G.O. Sars Expedition blog: http://nettskole.ndla.no/tokt2013 (In Norwegian)
Twitter-thlon on #PLanktonPoo with the participation of the marine scientists, answering many of the curiosities around zooplankton excretion and climate control: https://twitter.com/search?q=%23PlanktonPoo