Hi Ms. Davenport,

What will you be researching on the Healy icebreaker? 


Emily Davenport

Hi Katie- That's a great question to ask!  The big research question is "how is climate change affecting the Bering Sea ecosystem?"  My research is a tiny piece of the big picture.  All the scientists on board will be studying a different piece of the big puzzle. 
I'm interested in benthic organisms- especially those that burrow into the mud.  Benthic organisms are any organisms that live on the bottom of the ocean (or lake, river, etc...but we are interested in the ones that live in the Bering Sea).  These organisms depend on the phytoplankton that live at the top of the ocean for food- when those phytoplankton die, a lot of them fall to the bottom and get eaten by those benthic organisms in the mud.  Who knew that the top and bottom of the ocean were so connected!!
As the Bering Sea warms, this may be changing the timing of when those phytoplankton bloom (grow to large numbers very quickly) and how much of that food gets to the bottom of the ocean to be eaten by the benthic organisms.
Also- by burrowing into the mud on the bottom of the ocean, benthic organisms make the bottom a lot different than if there were no organisms living there at all.  I'm interested in how those organisms make the bottom of the ocean different- and how a change in the amount of food getting to the bottom of the ocean could affect the benthic organims that live there.
Phew- that was a lot of information I'm sure!  This is a new topic to me, and I've spent many months learning all about it so that I'm ready to do my research.
Keep the questions coming!

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Submitted by Katie Breen on Fri, 03/30/2007 - 09:42