University of Cambridge > > Department of Earth Sciences Seminars (downtown) > Our ocean in motion: How currents carry plankton, and how that affects palaeoproxy reconstructions

Our ocean in motion: How currents carry plankton, and how that affects palaeoproxy reconstructions

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If you have a question about this talk, please contact Alex Piotrowski.

The ocean is in constant motion, with water circulating within and flowing between basins. As the water moves around, it caries planktonic marine species such as foraminifera around the globe.

The most natural way to study the pathways of water and the transport of foraminifera is using particle trajectories. The trajectories can come from either computing of virtual floats in high-resolution ocean models, or from the paths of free-flowing observational drifters (surface buoys or Argo floats) in the real ocean.

In this seminar, I’ll give an overview of some recent work with particles trajectories, including applications to marine ecology, palaeoclimatology and marine plastic. Central to each of these studies is the question on how connected the different ocean basins are, and on what time scales water flows between the different regions of the ocean.

In particular, I will show that foraminifera, and thus recorded palaeoclimatic conditions, may originate from areas up to several thousands of kilometres away from where the foraminifera are found on the ocean floor, reflecting an ocean state significantly different from that core site. In the eastern equatorial regions and the western boundary current extensions, the offset may reach 1.5 °C for species living for a month and 3.0 °C for longer-living species. Oceanic transport hence appears to be a crucial aspect in the interpretation of proxy signals.

This talk is part of the Department of Earth Sciences Seminars (downtown) series.

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