Particle samples are collected on 6 inch diameter filters, then divided into smaller sections for different analyses. Here, sub-samples are drying in a fume hood before freezer storage (notice the different shades of brown/green depending on how much particulate matter was in the water at different depths). Back home in the lab I will analyze some of these samples for total and methylmercury, other groups will look at RNA of cells caught on the filters and carbon content. Carbon content is an interesting aspect of ocean particles – when algae and primary producers in the surface ocean photosynthesize they use carbon from the atmosphere. When these algae die, they sink to the ocean floor bringing the carbon with them, potentially storing it in deep ocean sediments. This is important when considering climate change and possible ways the ocean can help reduce CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere.

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