How did you get interested in ocean carbon?
Like many young people I loved dolphins and whales, and I really wanted to study marine biology. While pursuing a Master’s degree in Animal Sciences in Switzerland, I had the opportunity to conduct my research in Australia’s Great Barrier Reef. There I learned how macroalgae affect the micro-environment of corals, including pH levels. This was my first introduction to inorganic carbon chemistry and ocean acidification.
When I began my PhD work back in Switzerland, I decided to focus on the impacts of ocean acidification on the chemical environment of the US West Coast. This involved developing a thorough understanding of the ocean inorganic carbon cycle and studying differences between the past, before human-made CO2, and today.
What might people find interesting about your current research?
My current work focuses on improving our understanding of how ocean acidification and climate change affect the ocean’s carbon system in high-latitude regions, using a combination of observations and modeling.
Because Arctic conditions are extreme, and because ship-based observation is almost completely limited to the low-ice season of June-October, it is helpful to utilize autonomous platforms such as moorings, gliders, and ice-reinforced drifters capable of recording high-resolution data throughout the year, as well as operating remotely.
For example, in collaboration with Seth Danielson (UAF), our project’s multipurpose subsurface mooring in the Chukchi Sea provides a variety of physical, chemical, and biological data, giving us an unprecedented view of the shelf ecosystem there.
Armed with these carbon data, I’m able to analyze the complex carbon cycle of our Polar Seas. And because our regional and global models often lack the necessary complexity with regard to both high latitudes and carbon components, this work will help to enrich and improve our capabilities for model integrations. I enjoy the rich perspective that comes from working in the realms of both observation and modeling, which can sometimes otherwise seem exclusive.
What interests do you have outside of your field of study?
In conjunction with my research, I do a lot of outreach work, including as an instructor for Girls on Ice, a tuition free wilderness program for high school girls, on Gulkana glacier in Alaska. I love being part of a program that enhances young women’s self confidence, leadership, and interest in science, as well as providing them with examples of succeeding in traditionally white, male-dominated fields.
I also enjoy living in Alaska and taking advantage of outdoor opportunities, including skiing, mountaineering, biking, and packrafting.
International Arctic Research Center, University of Alaska Fairbanks. Article.