Enzyme activity in coastal marine waters: response to temperature and metal ion availability
The temperature of ocean surface waters may increase due to climate change. This may trigger a cascade of events that leads to deplete nutrient supplies in large parts of the ocean. As a result, small phytoplankton like marine cyanobacteria Prochlorococcus and Synechococcus may thrive and outcompete larger cells due to a larger cell-surface to -volume ratio. This may reduce the amount of carbon sinking towards the seafloor and thereby have a significant impact on the global carbon cycle.
In this project, the student will first identify a quantitative relationship between existing environmental variation (e.g. temperature and nutrients) and the distribution of ocean microbial phytoplankton. This will involve analyzing a recently compiled comprehensive database containing all known observations of these bacteria and remote sensing data. The student can then use this empirical model to predict future distributions of phytoplankton under various climate change scenarios. Some data analysis or programming experience is necessary for this project. (Project Time Allocations: Computer Lab = 100%, Lab = 0%, Fieldwork = 0%)