Looking for particles (again….)

We deployed the last of our gliders yesterday afternoon. This one is being piloted to patrol between the shelf edge and our mooring site, 100 km further onto the continental shelf; it will do this continuously from now until earl March when it will be picked up during another cruise. We then had a very successful night looking for particles. Starting just before sunset we deployed our two “Stand-Alone-Pumps” (SAPS). These pumps are lowered on a wire to a fixed depth, and programmed to pump water through large, dinner-plate sized filters typically for 1 or 2 hours. Clare Davis, from the University of Liverpool, will analyse the filters to measure the ratios of carbon, nitrogen and phosphorus in the tiny organic particles caught on the filters – a vital part of the story of how carbon and nutrients are cycled through the sea, ultimately supporting the marine food chain and also absorbing carbon from the atmosphere. We also tried the large Marine Snowcatcher again, this time after some modifications carried out by the Ben and Tom the National Marine Facilities Engineers. It worked at last! Both the SAPS and the Marine Snowcatcher were deployed, first close to the sea surface and then at a depth of about 100 metres. This is quite a relief for us – knowing the make-up of the particles in the ocean is a vital part of what we are trying to measure.

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