CaNDyFloSS: Carbon and Nutrient Dynamics and Fluxes over Shelf Systems

Lead Research Organisation: Plymouth Marine Laboratory
Department Name: Plymouth Marine Lab

Abstract

The large continental land masses are surrounded by extensive shallow (ca 100m depth) seas known as the 'shelf seas'. These act as the boundary between the massively perturbed terrestrial environment and the vast open ocean marine system, and have huge socio-economic importance. They are the primary regions of human marine resource exploitation, including both renewable and fossil fuel energy sources, recreation, trade and food production. Although comprising only about 5% of the global ocean surface area, the shelf seas provide 90% of the global fish catches which form an important source of food to much of the global population. They also play an important role in the ecosystem services provided by the oceans as a whole, in particular in storing carbon away from the atmosphere.

Physical and biochemical processes in shelf seas influence the removal of CO2 from the atmosphere and the subsequent storage of carbon in the deep ocean. Biological growth draws carbon out of the water, which is then replaced by carbon in CO2 from the atmosphere. In the shelf seas this growth is supported by terrestrial and open ocean sources of nutrients, implying intimate roles for both the terrestrial biosphere and the open ocean environment in regulating shelf sea climate services. The oceans can also be a major source or sink for other greenhouse gases, including nitrous oxide (N2O), with the shallow shelf seas thought to play a key role.

The spatial extent of the submerged continental shelves varies greatly. The NW European shelf sea is one of the largest and hence is likely to play a significant role in marine biogeochemical cycling, alongside providing a useful model for other systems However, even in this relatively well studied region, we lack a good understanding of the principal controls on the cycling of carbon and the major nutrient elements, nitrogen, phosphorous and silicon. Consequently it is also difficult to predict how the cycling of these elements and hence the carbon removal they support may be altered by ongoing and potential future global change. Our proposal aims to address these uncertainties through a comprehensive study of the cycling of the major nutrients and carbon throughout the water column over the NW European shelf sea system.

Through close collaboration with a range of partners, we will undertake a year-long observation programme of the whole NW European continental shelf. We will measure the seawater concentrations of the major forms of carbon and nutrients. Combining these with physical water transports and measured transfer of gases (specifically CO2 and N2O) between the air and sea surface, we will quantify the major fluxes of nutrients and carbon between the shelf sea and both the adjacent deep ocean and atmosphere. This will definitively establish the role of this shelf system in the global carbon and nutrient cycles.

We will also undertake 4 dedicated research cruises focused on understanding the seasonal cycle of biological and chemical processing of the different forms of the nutrients and carbon. We will measure the rates at which both the photosynthetic and consumer plankton incorporate nutrients and carbon into their cellular material, and subsequently how the combined activity of this biological/chemical system influences the cycling of the major elements. This will allow us to understand the ways in which the role of the shelf system in global cycles is maintained.

The combined work delivered by both this proposal and the other programme workpackages will allow us to identify aspects of the NW European shelf system which may be susceptible to ongoing or future environmental changes. Such knowledge will provide both enhanced scientific understanding and improved predictive tools for policy makers and other stakeholders.

Planned Impact

See Lead Proposal

Publications

10 25 50

publication icon
Davis C (2019) Seasonal organic matter dynamics in a temperate shelf sea in Progress in Oceanography

 
Description The outputs of this project are now summarised in a special issue publication of Progress in Oceanography. The abstract of the summary paper reviews this work thus:
The project aimed to address two issues: (1) how does a temperate shelf sea sustain an annual net drawdown and export of atmospheric CO2 without running out of inorganic nutrients, and (2) what uncertainties in processes or parameterisations within current ecosystem models can be reduced by a coordinated, multi-disciplinary observational programme covering the full seasonal cycle? Working with partners across Europe, the net annual drawdown of atmospheric CO2 over the entire northwest European shelf was confirmed. This demonstrated the context and impetus for a 17-month process study in the Celtic Sea, using a long-term mooring array and several research cruises, addressing shelf sea physics, inorganic and organic nutrient and carbon cycling, and bacterial, phytoplankton and zooplankton roles and dynamics. It was clear from the physics that all the carbon absorbed through the sea surface over one year was not exported to the open ocean. Physical transports were too weak and too slow to transport all the carbon-laden water over a wide shelf sea to the shelf edge within one year. The shelf sea must therefore be able to store carbon in a form that prevents release back to the atmosphere for a timescale that is sufficient to allow more episodic (timescales>1 year) exchange events to both remove the excess carbon and top-up the shelf pool of inorganic nutrients. The results presented in this special issue illustrate the likely key role of recalcitrant dissolved organic carbon in storing carbon on the shelf and highlight the need for longer-term
measurements or monitoring to understand the nature and timing of potentially large but infrequent exchange events between the shelf and open ocean.
Exploitation Route data is submitted to BODC and is useable by modellers and academics researching greenhouse gases, nutrient cycling and biological productivity in shelf seas
Sectors Aerospace, Defence and Marine,Education,Environment

 
Description NERC SSB additional funding
Amount £18,533 (GBP)
Funding ID NE/K002058/1 
Organisation Natural Environment Research Council 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 03/2016 
End 09/2016
 
Description Shelf Seas Biogeochemistry - Science to Policy
Amount £19,651 (GBP)
Organisation Natural Environment Research Council 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 11/2017 
End 03/2018
 
Title Spectrophotometric pH in seawater 
Description A new instrument was developed for the spectrophotometric determination of seawater pH using the meta-cresol-purple dye (MCP). The automated system integrates a high precision burette, spectrophotometer and thermometer with a custom-built light source. Data reduction is performed with a custom script in R (r-project.org). The accuracy of the system is calculated as better than 0.003 pH units when compared with pH calculated from independent measurements of Alkalinity and Inorganic Carbon in seawater. 
Type Of Material Technology assay or reagent 
Year Produced 2018 
Provided To Others? No  
Impact Automation ensures improved reliability, accuracy and precision with substantial efficiency improvement translating to reduced cost. Potential to get the whole carbonate system (TA, DIC, pH and pCO2) from a single sample. 
 
Title AMT19 Nitrification data set 
Description High resolution data set describing nitrification rates across the boundary between the photic and aphotic depths of the Atlantic Ocean. 
Type Of Material Database/Collection of data 
Provided To Others? No  
Impact The data was presented as a poster to the AMT anniversary conference (2015) and is in preparation for publication in the peer reviewed literature. 
 
Title Abundance of microbial phytoplankton abundance through the water column during the NERC Shelf Seas Biogeochemistry cruise DY029 in April 2015 
Description This dataset contains depth profiles of the mean abundance of groups of plankton as cells per millilitre, measured using flow cytometry . The groups quantified are divided into phytoplankton and heterotrophs. Phytoplankton groups quantified are: Synechococcus sp. (cyanobacteria)(Syn), Prochlorococcus sp. (cyanobacteria)(Pro), picoeuakryotes (smaller than 3 µm) (Peuk), cryptophytes (Crypto), coccolithophores (Cocco) and nanoeukaryotes (Neuk) not already mentioned (3-20 µm). Heterotrophs quantified are: heterotrophic bacteria with relatively high nucleic acid content (HNA) and bacteria with relatively low DNA (LNA). 
Type Of Material Database/Collection of data 
Year Produced 2015 
Provided To Others? Yes  
Impact None 
 
Title Abundance of microbial phytoplankton abundance through the water column during the NERC Shelf Seas Biogeochemistry cruise DY033 in July-August 2015 
Description This dataset contains depth profiles of the mean abundance of groups of plankton as cells per millilitre, measured using flow cytometry . The groups quantified are divided into phytoplankton and heterotrophs. Phytoplankton groups quantified are: Synechococcus sp. (cyanobacteria)(Syn), Prochlorococcus sp. (cyanobacteria)(Pro), picoeuakryotes (smaller than 3 µm) (Peuk), cryptophytes (Crypto), coccolithophores (Cocco) and nanoeukaryotes (Neuk) not already mentioned (3-20 µm). Heterotrophs quantified are: heterotrophic bacteria with relatively high nucleic acid content (HNA) and bacteria with relatively low DNA (LNA). 
Type Of Material Database/Collection of data 
Year Produced 2015 
Provided To Others? Yes  
Impact None 
 
Title Abundance of microbial phytoplankton abundance through the water column during the Shelf Seas Biogeochemistry cruise DY018 in November-December 2014 
Description Quantification of cyanobacteria, small (<20µm) phytoplankton and heterotrophic bacteria from CTD rosette bottles through the water column. Abundance estimates reported as cells per millilitre 
Type Of Material Database/Collection of data 
Year Produced 2015 
Provided To Others? Yes  
Impact None 
 
Title Benthic carbonate system in FABM-ERSEM 
Description Implemented benthic alkalinity fluxes and carbonate system calculations in FABM-ERSEM model framework. Contributions of benthic biogeochemical fluxes to benthic alkalinity are taken into account. Bulk benthic pH and saturation states are calculated, also rough per-layer estimates. 
Type Of Material Computer model/algorithm 
Year Produced 2015 
Provided To Others? Yes  
Impact Benthic carbonate system implementation is a basis for many ocean acidification and CCS impact studies, long-term carbon dynamics modelling in climate scenarios. 
URL https://gitlab.ecosystem-modelling.pml.ac.uk/edge/ersem/tree/V1/SAFE
 
Title DY018 Phytoplankton and microzooplankton community structure, abundance and biomass 
Description Species-specific abundance and biomass estimates from depth profiles enumerated from Lugol's-preserved water samples collected from the euphotic zone and analysed by light microscopy 
Type Of Material Database/Collection of data 
Year Produced 2017 
Provided To Others? Yes  
Impact Data to be used in publications and models 
 
Title DY029 Phytoplankton and microzooplankton community structure, abundance and biomass 
Description Species-specific abundance and biomass estimates from depth profiles enumerated from Lugol's-preserved water samples collected from the euphotic zone and analysed by light microscopy 
Type Of Material Database/Collection of data 
Year Produced 2017 
Provided To Others? Yes  
Impact Low abundance of diatoms during the spring bloom period. Data to be published in peer-reviewed papers and model development 
 
Title DY033 Phytoplankton and microzooplankton community structure, abundance and biomass 
Description Species-specific abundance and biomass estimates from depth profiles enumerated from Lugol's-preserved water samples collected from the euphotic zone and analysed by light microscop 
Type Of Material Database/Collection of data 
Year Produced 2017 
Provided To Others? Yes  
Impact Prolific abundance of ciliated protozoa. Data to be published in peer-reviewed papers and used in model development 
 
Title Diagnostic variables in benthic ERSEM 
Description Added series of individual diagnostic variables (i.e. fluxes) to be added to aggregate diagnostic variables for budget calculations. These include particulate deposition fluxes, suspension-feeding, resuspension fluxes, fluxes of dissolved inorganics and gases, biotic respiration etc. 
Type Of Material Computer model/algorithm 
Year Produced 2016 
Provided To Others? Yes  
Impact Individual diagnostics are necessary for calculation of aggregated diagnostics (fluxes), which will allow estimates of stocks and fluxes of carbon and other elements in North-Atlantic Shelf area, implemented in 3D modelling context. 
URL https://gitlab.ecosystem-modelling.pml.ac.uk/edge/ersem/
 
Title Epibenthic and infaunal predators in ERSEM 
Description Zoobenthic functional groups of epibenthic and infaunal predators were added to ERSEM. The addition is facilitated through fabm.yaml input and is utilizing generalized structure of model code for benthic fauna. 
Type Of Material Computer model/algorithm 
Year Produced 2015 
Provided To Others? Yes  
Impact More complete representation of benthic faunal functional types in the model. Possibility for implementing the model for benthic biodiversity studies. 
URL https://gitlab.ecosystem-modelling.pml.ac.uk/edge/ersem/tree/feat/benPred
 
Title Flexible structure for material deposition in ERSEM 
Description Implemented flexible structure for material deposition in ERSEM, allowing arbitrary number of deposition targets defined by model user. Previously this split into benthic organic matter was hardcoded, while new structure is more flexible, allowing partitioning into any number of benthic pools in any proportion. 
Type Of Material Computer model/algorithm 
Year Produced 2015 
Provided To Others? Yes  
Impact New structure allows more flexibility from the user side, better tailoring model structure to research questions. 
URL https://gitlab.ecosystem-modelling.pml.ac.uk/edge/ersem/
 
Title FlowCAM small zooplankton adundance - cruises DY018, DY026, DY029, DY033 
Description Abundance data of small zooplankton collected using a 63µm mesh net determined using FlowCAM 
Type Of Material Database/Collection of data 
Year Produced 2016 
Provided To Others? Yes  
Impact Contribution to biomass spectrum and peer review paper 
 
Title N2O concentrations from DY018, DY029, DY033 
Description Seasonal and spatial analysis of N2O in the Celtic Sea ( Nov 2014 - August 2015) 
Type Of Material Database/Collection of data 
Provided To Others? No  
Impact Unprecedented seasonal variability noted in association with shelf-edge processes 
 
Title Nutrient Data for JC105 
Description Nutrient samples collected during RRS James Cook cruise 105, samples analysed and QC'd and submitted to BODC 
Type Of Material Database/Collection of data 
Year Produced 2014 
Provided To Others? Yes  
Impact No impacts as yet, data being assimilated at present 
 
Title Nutrient data for SSB cruise DY026 
Description Nitrate, Nitrite, Silicate, Phosphate and Ammonium data from the Celtic Sea, August 2014. Submitted to BODC. 
Type Of Material Database/Collection of data 
Year Produced 2014 
Provided To Others? Yes  
Impact None as yet 
 
Title Resuspendable fluff layer in ERSEM 
Description A formulation of fluff layer was added to ERSEM model. It represents a layer of freshly sedimented, unconsolidated, easily resuspendable organic matter. It is also available as a food-source to filter-feeding zoobenthos. First-order kinetics of incorporation into consolidated sediment organic matter is implemented. 
Type Of Material Computer model/algorithm 
Year Produced 2015 
Provided To Others? Yes  
Impact Improvement of model performance primarily in shallow coastal regions. Further possibilities for collaborations for improvement of benthic-pelagic coupling in the model. 
URL https://gitlab.ecosystem-modelling.pml.ac.uk/edge/ersem/tree/V1/SAFE
 
Title SSB data set 
Description The NERC Shelf-Seas Biogeochemistry cruise series was completed and a comprehensive data set describing N-cycle processes is begin developed. 
Type Of Material Database/Collection of data 
Provided To Others? No  
Impact Under development 
 
Title Seasonal sampling coverage of the E1 site 
Description 10 sampling points of the Western Channel Observatory 's E1 site have been completed so far. Sampling has been at roughly monthly intervals since February. The sampling is to determine stoichiometric C;N ratios in various particulates and how they vary with depth. Additional experiments have been conducted to look at micro- and mesozoopankton grazing impact on primary production at the site. 
Type Of Material Database/Collection of data 
Provided To Others? No  
Impact Samples are being analysed so no impact yet 
 
Title Update of ERSEM formulation on benthic organic matter resuspension 
Description Model formulation of resuspension of benthic semi-labile organic matter was updated to explicitly account for vertical distribution of organic matter in sediments. This improves previous formulation based on concentration of benthic organics and makes use of information available to the model allowing only the uppermost layer of organics to be resuspended at each time instance. 
Type Of Material Computer model/algorithm 
Year Produced 2015 
Provided To Others? Yes  
Impact Improvement of model results on resuspension and consequently on fluxes and transport of particulate and dissolved material. 
URL https://gitlab.ecosystem-modelling.pml.ac.uk/edge/ersem
 
Description 2016 Ocean Sciences in New Orleans USA 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Scientific presentation entitled:Nutrient Dynamics in the Celtic Sea during the 18 Month UK Shelf Seas Biogeochemistry Programme. Many and varied questions and discussions about the work from the International attendees of the conference.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description BBC interview and news story 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Media (as a channel to the public)
Results and Impact Jamie Shutler was interviewed by Jonathan Amos (BBC correspondent) over phone. he then wrote the BBC article.
The FluxEngine paper that the article focuses on specifically acknowledges NERC Shelf Seas Biogeochemistry - Candyfloss project
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
URL http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-35654938
 
Description Co-Chair of SCOR International Nutrient Working Group 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact SCOR working group #147: Towards comparability of global oceanic nutrient data.
Organise International meetings and workshops to further the aims of the working group which is to improve global nutrient analysis through the use of certified reference materials.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016,2017
 
Description EGU 2016 presentation (Rees) 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact EGU2016-16991 N2O and CH4 distribution and fluxes in the North Atlantic Ocean by Andy Rees, Ian Brown, Jamie Shutler, and Ian Ashton
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description GESAMP WG 38 Impact of OA on fluxes of non-CO2 climate active species 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Working group off experts to initiate publications relating to trace gases and their impact by ocean acidification and multiple stressors
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description ICES/PICES 6th Zooplankton Production Symposium (Bergen)- oral presentation 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Presentation entitled 'Testing the "loophole hypothesis": understanding the role of microzooplankton grazing in phytoplankton bloom dynamics'. Microzooplankton herbivory constitutes a major source of mortality for phytoplankton in many marine ecosystems, and microzooplankton are themselves important prey items for larger zooplankton. This talk reported on a series of experiments conducted over two years at station E1 in the Western English Channel to explore the relationship between microzooplanton grazing, prey cell size and growth rate.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description Modelling marine benthic ecosystems: from observing state to explaining function - an invited talk at University of Plymouth 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact I was invited to give a talk at University of Plymouth Earth Science Research Seminar on my work on benthic macrofauna modelling. The talk was well attended by ~100 people - undergraduate and postgraduate students, university stuff - mainly from School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences. The talk was followed by a question session and a follow-up discussion on potential for further collaboration between PML modelling and University of Plymouth Earth Science.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Nutrient characteristics during the UK Shelf Seas Programme 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Presentation at the Final UK Shelf Seas (SSB) meeting held in Winchester, UK. This was a summary of the general nutrient results from the series of research cruises in 2014 and 2015.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description Online media and social media coverage 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Media (as a channel to the public)
Results and Impact A press release from the European Space Agency and a related BBC news article resulted in news articles on 11 news websites, 1 blog, 4 twitter feeds and 2 Facebook pages.

ESA press release: http://www.esa.int/Our_Activities/Observing_the_Earth/Copernicus/Sentinel-3/Sentinel-3_and_the_ocean_carbon_conundrum
BBC news article: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-35654938
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
URL https://www.altmetric.com/details/4969088#score
 
Description Presentation at Challenger Society Conference September 2016 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Spatial and temporal Nutrient Dynamics in the Celtic Sea during the UK Shelf Seas Biogeochemistry Programme.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description Presentation to Local Womens Group 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Gave presentation on NERC funded research to approx. 20 members of a local womens group. Questions and discussion followed.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description Steering committee member for DEFRA funded project 'HAZARD- Heirarchical assessment of zooplankton' 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact The role of group is to use members' experience and knowledge to help facilitate an in-depth review of the evidence supporting the development of "Hierarchical Assessment of Zooplankton", by reviewing the project's progress and contributing advice and information to support the achievement of project objectives. The group consist of 8 members representing Defra, PML, NOC and SAHFOS. The first meeting was attended by 6 members of the steering group, the project management plan & any foreseeable issues were discussed and recommendations given. Advice given to project team on links with other current monitoring/field programmes such as NERC Shelf Seas and Marine Ecosystem Research Programme.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
 
Description UK Shelf Seas Biogeochemistry Pelagic group writing workshop in London 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact 65 people attended a NERC SSB workshop to discuss scientific results and potential outputs. This was for the Pelagic component of the SSB programme. Much discussion between the team members.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016