Climate Change in the Marine Realm

Currently, I'm at MARUM at the University of Bremen, Germany attending a summer school on marine climate change. Thus far, it's been quite a fascinating trip with engaging lectures from various ocean scientists (marine biologists, paleoceanographers, coastal ecologists, physical oceanographers etc.) and students from all over Europe. Further, I'm really enjoying the European hospitality, mentality and atmosphere. 

Last week, we were based in the Alfred Wegener Institute's research station on Sylt, an island located at the northern-most portion of Germany. Moving from hot, tropical, volcanic islands to a cold, temperate, barrier island in a week was quite interesting, to say the least - geologically and ecologically. In particular, being around marine ecologists who knew all the intertidal species was really cool.

Some of the geomorphology on Sylt made me feel that I was on Arrakis (the abundant lugworms in the intertidal zone looked like tiny Shai-Huluds)
Some of the geomorphology on Sylt made me feel that I was on Arrakis (the abundant lugworms in the intertidal zone looked like tiny Shai-Huluds)

At Sylt, we attended lectures and conducted experiments on the effects of ocean acidification on marine biology. Specifically, we looked at echinoderms and their resiliance (or their lack of it) to more acidic oceans. Eco-physiologist, Sam Dupont (whom I had read about in Nature News when he stumbled upon a significant discovery in echinoderm physiology after one too many beers), in his infectiously enthusiastic manner, stressed on the importance of the harmful of effects of ocean acidification, combined with oceanic warming. It was also very neat to interact with Jelle Bijma on foraminiferal ecology and metabolism. But, the most interesting point of note was geochemist R. D. Schuiling's geo-engineering solution to battle anthropogenic climate change: with olivine! I hope to expand on this later, but, in a nutshell, it involves increasing the rate of weathering using the green mineral. Though I knew varieties of this strategy existed, I had never heard of olivine in specific. Here are two starting points if you want to know more: [1] and [2].

Sam Dupont trying to take a blood sample from a brittle star (Asterias rubens)
Sam Dupont trying to take a blood sample from a brittle star (Asterias rubens)

We made our way down to Bremen from Sylt over the weekend and have been attending classes at Marum. We were fortunate enough to get a glimpse of the IODP Core repository - making me fortunate enough to have visited two of the three core repositories in the world (the others are in Texas A&M and Kochi University, Japan). Looking at cores which led to discoveries on the PETM, KT-Boundary and Mediterranean sapropels was fascinating!

The top core is from the Yucatan Basin, Gulf of Mexico and the discontinuity is the K-T Boundary; the core at the bottom is from the Walvis Ridge in the southern Atlantic Ocean and shows the infamous PETM event.
The top core is from the Yucatan Basin, Gulf of Mexico and the discontinuity is the K-T Boundary; the core at the bottom is from the Walvis Ridge in the southern Atlantic Ocean and shows the infamous PETM event.

I will be in Germany for another ten days, after which I will finally get back to the normal grind in Austin (and need to prepare for AGU!) It's been a travel-intensive year alright!