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Science AMA Series: We’re scientists on a boat in the Southern Ocean (Antarctic Ocean) studying climate change, ocean physics and marine biology, Ask Us Anything!
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Hi reddit, I’m Greta Shum, and I work as a science communicator at Climate Central. I’m out here on a boat off the coast of Antarctica with other scientists who are studying different aspects of the Southern Ocean. In my usual work, I try to communicate the facts about climate change (causes and effects) at Climate Central. As part of that mission, I’m following three science projects that are focused on the state of the Southern Ocean and how it will change in the future. One group is studying ocean physics along the shelf of the Amundsen Sea; one group studies the microbiology and consequent evolution of the phytoplankton in the Southern Ocean, and one group (SOCCOM) studies the carbon chemistry of the Southern Ocean and how it will change in the future. With me are the following scientists: Professor Stephen Riser is a Professor of Physical Oceanography at the University of Washington, interested in the ocean’s role in climate, and in deducing the general circulation of the ocean and ocean/atmosphere/ice interactions through direct observations of the ocean circulation. Caitlin Whalen, PhD of the University of Washington Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) is an expert in ocean mixing. Professor Tatiana Rynearson from U. of Rhode Island: My area of research is in marine genomics and population genetics. My goals are to understand the ecological and evolutionary processes shaping genetic diversity in the plankton and to examine how those processes affect plankton community structure, function and productivity in coastal regions. My approach is to identify and exploit the genetic variation that exists within and between individuals to examine how plankton respond to their environment. Professor Sinead Collins from the U. of Edinburgh: I’m interested in how large populations of small organisms adapt to complex environmental changes. Since that’s a bit too vague, I focus on how marine phytoplankton adapt to ocean acidification. I use experimental evolution in the lab to figure out the basic theory involved, and then head off to collaborate with oceanographers to apply it to marine systems. We’ll be back at 1 pm EST (10 am PST, 6 pm UTC) to answer your questions, ask us anything! Thanks for all the excellent questions! We had a terrific time! If you’re looking to keep following us online, check out our blogs here or here.