The AEON-Lab (Anthropogenic Effects on Oceans around Newfoundland) focuses on understanding the ocean and its ability to respond to anthropogenic changes such as climate change, oil spills, and microplastic pollution. Specifically, we are interested in (i) the functioning of the Biological Carbon Pump (BCP) and how it shifts with climate change, (ii) the changes in plankton community composition along the Labrador Coast, especially under the ice, and how these affect local communities, (iii) the distribution and fate of oil spilled in marine waters with emphasis on the interactions with marine particles and organisms and (iv) the distribution dynamics and sources of microplastic in the ocean.
The BCP, a term that encompasses all processes leading to the formation of particles that sediment into the deep ocean or the seafloor, is a key feature of the marine carbon cycle and an important driver of the ability of the ocean to take up carbon. It also plays a critical role for the distribution and fate of buoyant contaminants such as oil and microplastic.
Main Research Projects:
Sustainable Nunatsiavut Futures: Together with the local people, we investigate phyto – and zooplankton communities under the ice at different locations, which represent the base of the food web and are thus central for all marine life.
Northwest Atlantic Biological Carbon Pump: In collaboration with other teams investigating the BCP, we try to understand the importance of and potential changes to the BCP in the Labrador Sea. We target sinking particles, their composition, as well as aggregation and fragmentation. The field work is complemented with targeted laboratory experiments.
Multi-Partner Research Initiative: Within this DFO led program, which prepares Canada for science based response plans to oil spills, we investigate the role of dispersants on oil distribution and fate, such as biodegradation, as well as on the effects for organisms like mussels and fish. After years of laboratory experiments we are planning to participate in a field trial.
Baseline study on microplastic: Our work with microplastic includes assessing distribution patterns (vertically and horizontally) in local Bays, sedimentation mechanisms, and targeted experiments on the effects of microplastic on phytoplankton growth and aggregation