OCE-RIG: Implementation of Advanced Underwater Optical Instrumentation for the Study of Marine Particle Dynamics in the Arctic Ocean

Project Description

The production, transformation, sinking, horizontal transport, remineralization and deposition of particulate organic matter in the oceans play important roles in the cycling of carbon and other elements throughout the earth system. Traditional oceanographic strategies for the sampling and study of marine particles often involve various forms of direct collection. However, these approaches are severely limited in their ability to provide particle data at high spatial and temporal resolutions, and to determine the in situ structure of these small and delicate particles. For these reasons, in situ imaging of particles and plankton is rapidly becoming an important tool for the study of marine particle dynamics and the ocean's biological pump, as these instruments enable the high-resolution and non-destructive assessment of particle size, concentration, and morphology. This project will facilitate the initial testing, operational development, and utilization of the Underwater Vision Profiler 5 (UVP), an advanced in situ imaging system. Deployments of the UVP in the Arctic Ocean will generate a new dataset that will be used to explore the nature of the biological, chemical, and physical factors that influence the cycling of particles and carbon in this region. The award supports two students at the University of Alaska, Fairbanks (UAF), one Master's and one undergraduate, to participate in research related to particle cycling in the Arctic ocean. The PI and the students will use in situ imaging equipment to study the links between the particle size distribution and the sinking flux of particulate organic matter. The cycling of particulate matter in the Arctic Ocean is not well understood, and this research will enhance of our understanding of particle dynamics and carbon cycling in a region that is currently undergoing rapid environmental change. This award will advance the methodological capabilities of the UAF laboratory, begin a new research endeavor into the dynamics of marine particles and carbon cycling of the Arctic Ocean, and engage two students in research that is relevant to the Arctic.

Project Funding

National Science Foundation
Amount: $99,999
Start Date: 2014-08-00
End Date: 2016-07-00



Research Team

Andrew McDonnell

Andrew McDonnell

Principal Investigator

Associate Professor


  • Ocean Biogeochemical Cycles
  • Marine Particle Dynamics
  • Ocean Acidification
  • Oceanographic Optics
  • Alaska's Blue Economy

Research Staff

Jessica Pretty
Graduate student

Gabrielle Johnson
Undergraduate research assistant