Exploring correlation of ocean surface pCO2 to physical and biological variables

Felix working at the lab

Students

2020
College

Faculty

Laboratory Coordinator, Earth & Environmental Science

Project Summary

My research is about the ocean’s relationship with carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere. Its ability to pull carbon from the air through the process called the biological carbon pump is important for reducing the impact of carbon emissions. The global ocean takes up about 20-30% of all carbon dioxide emissions. The rate of CO2 uptake in the ocean is affected by multiple physical and biological factors. I am studying the relationship between each of these factors and trying to explain how they correlate in different parts of the ocean.

The physical and biological factors I’m studying are heat flux, sea surface temperature, mix layer depth, biomass, and chlorophyll-a. I learned how to use Matlab to process large amounts of information from satellite and in-situ datasets. From there, the datasets were separated by different seasons and plotted on a world map. I compare these correlation plots with existing explanations for how each factor interacts with CO2 to verify that they still hold. If they do not, then we work on explaining what is going on. 

I learned a lot about performing long term research during this experience. Being a part of a lab taught me about collaborating with a large team on an extensive project. I was able to work with multiple people’s code and build on them to create my correlations. During lab meetings, I was able to work with other people with different specializations. This allowed us to build on each other’s specific work in order to further the project.