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Sir David Attenborough: How polar ship will help scientists study climate change

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By illuminem briefings

· 2 min read

illuminem summarizes for you the essential news of the day. Read the full piece here Carbon Brief or enjoy below

🗞️ Driving the news: The state-of-the-art UK polar research ship RRS Sir David Attenborough, costing £200m, is preparing to voyage to Antarctica to examine vital ecosystem processes for a more nuanced understanding of climate change
• Famed for housing the "BoatyMcBoatface" submersibles, the ship will gather data about the activities of tiny organisms within the Southern Ocean and their influence on the ocean carbon cycle

🔭 The context: This mission, which has been in the works since 2020, aims to address a fundamental knowledge gap in our understanding of how microscopic life in the Southern Ocean impacts the carbon cycle
• The ocean absorbs nearly a third of all human-induced CO2 emissions, and these tiny organisms play a crucial role in this process

🌍 Why it matters for the planet: The data collected by the RRS Sir David Attenborough could provide critical insights into how rapid climate changes are affecting ocean life and, in turn, the global carbon cycle
• Understanding these implications for the polar regions and the wider Earth system could help inform future climate models and our ability to respond to climate change effectively

⏭️ What’s next: During the voyage, the research team will conduct a variety of experiments using the state-of-the-art labs and equipment on the ship, such as the "moon pool" and remotely operated vehicles (AOVs and ROVs)
• One significant project is BIOPOLE, a £9m five-year program seeking to understand how the behavior of tiny polar organisms influences the balance of carbon in the world's oceans

💬 One quote: " There’s a real clear urgency on understanding the full implications of changes for the polar regions, but also for the wider Earth system" (Dr. Nadine Johnston, Marine Ecologist from the British Antarctic Survey)

📈 One stat: In 2019, a research paper in Nature estimated that copepods globally are responsible for processing one billion tonnes of carbon per year, more than is sequestered by all the forests in the US

Click for more news covering the latest on Environmental Sustainability

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