The availability of iron
can severely limit phytoplankton growth and alter the ecological structure and
carbon fluxes of vast ocean regions. Due to the integration of Fe in cellular
functions and its particle reactivity, its primary transport is tightly coupled
to particle fluxes through the ocean. These particles are often lithogenic in
origin (e.g. silts) or biogenic carbon-based (e.g. cells, detritus).
Despite the importance
of marine particles, relatively little is known of their elemental composition.
Analysis involving discrete sampling is low resolution and expensive, meaning in situ sensor analysis is highly
desirable. Hence, the overall aim of this studentship is to investigate optical
and spectroscopic properties of suspended marine particles as proxies for
The project will specifically
address the question of whether remote monitoring systems all across the globe (e.g.
float networks, buoys and autonomous vehicles) can estimate particulate iron
concentrations. The Plymouth trace metal labs have some of the few data for marine
particle analysis for ocean provinces in the world.
This PhD studentship
will involve a comprehensive laboratory and field training in trace metal
techniques (including mass spectrometry) and spectroscopic analyses at the
University of Plymouth, Plymouth Marine Laboratory and University of Leeds. It
will involve laboratory investigations, marine field surveys at the Western
Channel Observatory (WCO) and working with time series measurements in the
Atlantic Ocean (Bermuda). You will also use past and current sensor and
satellite observations to investigate the potential for mapping particulate
element concentrations using the optical and spectroscopic proxies.