--FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE--
August 10, 2011
Contact: Tatiana Brailovskaya, Director of Communications, Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences, (207) 633-9633; firstname.lastname@example.org
Chasing the North Atlantic Bloom: Research Scientist Dr. Nicole Poulton to Speak at Bigelow Laboratory’s August 23 Café Scientifique
WEST BOOTHBAY HARBOR, ME – Bigelow Laboratory’s ninth Café Scientifique gathering of the summer will be led by Bigelow Research Scientist Dr. Nicole Poulton, who will highlight her recent investigations of the Northern Hemisphere’s massive spring blooms of phytoplankton – the microscopic, single-celled plants that form the yearly foundation of the food web in the North Atlantic Ocean. Poulton’s talk, titled Sea Truth: Chasing the North Atlantic Bloom, will take place on Tuesday, August 23 at 6 p.m. in the Boothbay Harbor Opera House, 86 Townsend Avenue in Boothbay Harbor.
Dr. Nicole Poulton.
Poulton is part of a collaborative, multi-institutional research expedition team that is developing and testing methods to assess how changing conditions in the North Atlantic --including cloud cover, currents, wind, and waves -- are affecting the ecology of the giant spring phytoplankton bloom and altering its role in the global environment.
“Nearly a quarter of the total amount of carbon dioxide taken up by the ocean is in the North Atlantic Ocean – a process that’s driven by the annual spring phytoplankton bloom,” said Poulton. “As spring gets underway in the Northern Hemisphere and the number of daylight hours increases, deep water nutrients that accumulated during the winter nourish phytoplankton cells, triggering dramatic blooms over thousands of square miles. The biogeochemical processes involved in these blooms form an immense biological pump, and create a carbon sink in the ocean that researchers estimate holds ten times the amount of carbon found on land.”
Working aboard the R/V Knorr off the southern coast of Iceland, the research team used flow cytometry technology developed at Bigelow Laboratory to examine the bloom’s phytoplankton community structure; and deployed floats, autonomous underwater gliders, and sediment traps to help calculate the amount of carbon transported to the deep ocean.
Poulton holds a Ph.D. in biological oceanography from the joint program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. She is a member of the Laboratory’s J. J. MacIsaac Facility for Aquatic Cytometry, which is dedicated to the application of new technology to the study of planktonic aquatic microbes. The facility operates a mobile, at-sea sorting laboratory, making it possible for scientists to sort cells from fresh samples during research cruises.
The Laboratory’s Café Scientifique gatherings take place every Tuesday evening from 6 to 7 p.m., through August 30. The event is free and open to the public, with beer, wine, and sodas available for purchase. The complete 2011 summer Café Scientifique program is posted on the Laboratory’s website (www.bigelow.org).
Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences conducts research ranging from microbial oceanography -- examining the biology in the world’s oceans at the molecular level -- to the large-scale ocean processes that affect global environmental conditions. Recognized as a leader in Maine’s emerging innovation economy, the Laboratory is spurring significant economic growth in the state through construction of a major Ocean Science and Education Campus in East Boothbay. ####