We go to sea to measure biological rates to get a sense of what is relevant. We develop laboratory experiments to discover the environmental controls on the bacteria performing these rates. But how to connect everything together into an overall picture of how Earth’s climate is shaped by these microorganisms? Modeling is of course the answer!
By creating simple models, we are able to elucidate how a process we see in the environment affects climate, scaling up from the microbial world to the whole of the the planet. As a fascinating vignette, we have shown how overlooked migrating zooplankton can change nitrogen biogeochemistry.
Another exciting avenue of research utilizes vast amounts of data collected over decades in the ocean and atmosphere. Why collect more data if there are already gazillions searchable on Google? Plus, the advantage is that in a time of pandemic (who knew we’d have to prep for those?), the data still exist! Check out one recent study that’s seeded a new research direction in the group on nitrous oxide measurements in Samoa, and using back trajectory modeling to identify ocean hotspots of N2O production!