Cruising the Equatorial Pacific – virtually

oceanographic research cruise - sunsetDr. Ivona Cetinić, University of Maine Research Associate at the Darling Marine Center, sets sail today as a virtual participant aboard the R/V New Horizon to study phytoplankton in the equatorial Pacific Ocean.

All the scientists on this research cruise are interested in the role phytoplankton play in nutrient cycling and ocean chemistry. Cetinić is specifically interested in particulate organic carbon (POC) that includes phytoplankton, zooplankton and marine debris. POC is important because it is the mechanism by which carbon dioxide from the atmosphere is transferred and sequestered to depths of the ocean.

Cetinić is the lead scientist on a 3-year, NASA-funded project to monitor the global carbon cycle via satellite imagery. She and her colleagues are plying the world’s oceans, from pole to pole, collecting seawater and measuring POC. This data will be linked to satellite images and will ultimately allow POC to be monitored from space. As a virtual scientist aboard the R/V New Horizon, Cetinić will work with the satellite images as her shipboard colleagues relay results of onsite water chemistry assays.

Cetinić’s shipboard collaborators include Wayne Homer Slade and Thomas Leeuw, both alumni of UMaine’s School of Marine Sciences and now at Sequoia Scientific Inc. in Bellevue, WA, as well as Dr. Nicole Poulton from the Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences in East Boothbay, ME, Andre Bucci from University of Sao Paolo, Brazil, and Kathryn Moore of the Scripps Institute of Oceanography in La Jolla, CA.