Predicting DMS(P) production in a high-CO2 world: Does algal carbon-utilization provide the answer?

Project Details


Climate change is considered a global threat to humankind in our current understanding. A region showing some of the largest measurable changes in surface-ocean temperature is the West Antarctic Peninsula (WAP). Increasing temperature has led to a significant decrease in sea ice cover over the past 50 years. The increasing levels of CO2 result in a lower oceanic pH. It is uncertain how the ecosystem, especially the productive phytoplankton community of the Southern Ocean, will react to these major factors: sea ice retreat and ocean acidification.
During my PhD project I will investigate how the rising levels of CO2 and the retreat of sea ice will impact the phytoplankton communities in the Southern Ocean. Especially, the physiological mechanisms underlying the sulfur and the carbon cycle will be studied in detail. I will focus on the production of algal metabolite DMSP (dimethylsulfoniopropionate) and its potential coupling to algal carbon uptake mechanisms and subsequently the production of the climate active gas DMS (dimethyl sulfide). Both controlled laboratory studies and field experiments at the WAP considering environmental factors as temperature, salinity, pH and light will be conducted.
By investigating DMSP production and carbon fixation I will contribute to the understanding of how the algal sulfur and carbon cycles are linked in the Southern Ocean and how CO2 and DMS concentrations will develop in the ocean and ultimately in the atmosphere under changing climate conditions.
Short titlePredicting DMS
Effective start/end date01/02/201901/02/2024