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ODU's Wurl Joins Catlin Arctic Survey for Ocean Carbon Study

Oliver Wurl

Oliver Wurl, a postdoctoral research associate in Old Dominion University's Department of Ocean, Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, has joined the 2011 Catlin Arctic Survey for research that will keep him in the frozen north for the month of April.

Wurl is reporting about his work and living conditions at the Catlin Arctic ice camp at http://catlinarcticexpedition.blogspot.com/.

Most scientific research in the Arctic Ocean region is done during the summer when the weather can be almost hospitable and there is more open water in which to take measurements and conduct experiments. But Wurl and two other young oceanographers from ODU are rushing the season this spring.

The three were chosen to work with the Catlin Arctic Survey, an initiative of the Catlin Group Ltd., the international provider of specialty insurance and reinsurance that is based in Bermuda. The company launched the survey three years ago with the declaration of its top executives that "climate change and other environmental changes are creating a new set of risks for the insurance industry and its policyholders."

Victoria Hill, a research assistant professor, and David Ruble, a research associate, have been in the Arctic since early March on a Catlin-sponsored research project that is separate from Wurl's.

Other news about this year's Catlin Survey is at catlinarcticsurvey.com.

Wurl will be studying the effect of ocean acidification on the marine carbon cycle under the Arctic ice sheet. He joined the ODU research group of Greg Cutter, professor of ocean, earth and atmospheric sciences, last June soon after he finished a work on the 2010 Catlin Arctic Survey.

Wurl's trip this year will give him a chance to continue research he started in 2010. He and colleagues are looking into gel-like particles that are sticky and tend to collect tiny organisms and other specks that have high carbon content. When these aggregates sink they accelerate the carbon export to the deep ocean and have therefore an important role in the marine carbon cycle and carbon sequestration.

Hill and Ruble are collecting measurements related to Arctic Ocean surface warming. Their focus is on chromophoric dissolved organic material (CDOM) in the Arctic waters, and how the material might affect solar heating of the waters. A National Science Foundation grant is helping to support the project.

This article was posted on: April 4, 2011

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