Marine particles and plankton play a central role in the ocean’s biological carbon pump, ultimately transferring large quantities of carbon into deep waters and marine sediments. Our present understanding of these complex processes has been limited in part due to difficulties observing their distributions across relevant temporal and spatial scales. Using underwater imaging systems to map the abundances, sizes, and classes of particles and plankton throughout the water column, we are now gaining new insights into their role in the ocean’s biological carbon pump. Our research group has now deployed the Underwater Vision Profiler (UVP5) in conjunction with more than 20 oceanographic cruises including global scale hydrographic transects, a coastal time series in the Gulf of Alaska, surveys of the Bering and Chukchi Seas, and an intensive interdisciplinary process study in the North Pacific Ocean. These observations reveal the large-scale patterns of particle flux into the deep ocean, the relationships between overlying productivity, particle size, and zooplankton community structure throughout the water column, and the role of migrating zooplankton communities in modulating the vertical distributions, sizes, and fluxes of marine particles.
Dr. Andrew McDonnell
Associate Professor of Oceanography, University of Alaska Fairbanks