Australian researchers are on a 45-day mission to capture the most detailed picture yet of how marine life in the Southern Ocean stores carbon from the atmosphere.
CSIRO’s RV Investigator left Hobart early this month on the Southern Ocean Large Areal Carbon Export (SOLACE) voyage. On board were Philip Boyd, his research team and a suite of technology needed to try to find answers in the showers of dead algae and carbon-rich organic particles known as marine snow.
“The microscopic algae in the ocean are responsible for removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere as much as the forests on land are,” says Boyd, from the University of Tasmania’s Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies (IMAS). “When they die, these tiny carbon-rich particles fall slowly to the ocean floor like a scene from a snow globe.”
Boyd is travelling with colleagues from IMAS, CSIRO, the Australian Antarctic Program Partnership (AAPP), the Australian National University (ANU) and Curtin University.