Category Archives: Research

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What you Can Do With a Really Rather Realistic Ocean Model

Helen Hill | Darwin Project

It’s been a decade since the inception of the MIT Darwin Project, an alliance between physical oceanographers, biogeochemists and marine microbiologists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). The goal of Darwin remains to couple state of the art physical models of global ocean circulation with biogeochemistry and genome-informed models of microbial processes to understand the interplay between different elements of the marine ecosystem leading to observed balances between physiology and the marine environment. Continue reading

phytoplankton-chips

Phytoplankton & Chips

Microbes mediate the global marine cycles of elements, modulating atmospheric CO2 and helping to maintain the oxygen we all breath yet there is much about them scientists still don’t understand. Now, an award from the Simons Foundation will give researchers from the Darwin Project access to bigger, better computing resources to model these communities and probe how they work. Continue reading

Phytoplankton - the foundation of the oceanic food chain. Image courtesy of the NOAA MESA Project.

Plankton can save the ocean. But who will save the plankton?

Read this post by Lauren Hinkel via Oceans@MIT

When it comes to climate change and the oceans, MIT Principal Research Scientist Stephanie Dutkiewicz weighs in on why it’s not just warming oceans we need to worry about. Plankton — that are crucial for carbon sequestration and oxygen production — have been discovered behaving strangely, but they may point the way to better geoengineering and understanding of trends in marine populations and ecology.

Dutkiewicz’s research examines how the physics and chemistry of the ocean determines phytoplankton biogeography, and how in turn those organisms affect their environment.

Read her comments in New Scientist.

 

By Richard A. Ingebrigtsen, Department of Arctic and Marine Biology, University of Tromsø - Own work, GFDL, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=12614179

Keeping Things the Same

The elemental composition of organic matter is remarkably constant throughout the world’s oceans, but phytoplankton are known to take up nutrients and carbon in quite variable ratios depending on light and nutrient conditions.

In a paper published online in the journal Global Biogeochemical Cycles last month, Darwin Project researchers David Talmy (MIT), Christopher Hill (MIT), Anna Hickman (Univ. of Southampton, England), and Mick Follows (MIT), in a collaboration with Adam Martiny (Univ. of California, Irvine), report on their work  seeking to understand what ecosystem factors could cause the elemental composition of organic matter to remain stable and relatively constant (homeostatic), even when the phytoplankton can have quite variable composition. Continue reading