Flying through microspace

Latitude:  61°06′ N
Longitude:  001°06′ W
See latest position
Air Temp.: 3.3° C
Water Temp.: 8.1° C
by Klas Moeller onboard the FS METEOR for Leg II

The Video Plankton Recorder (VPR) is non-destructive modern, optical sampling gear. Imagine flying a sophisticated underwater microscope through the water at night. The VPR`s rapid camera images plankton and suspended particles (the base of the food web) at up to 30 frames per second.

At the same time this instrument measures the physical environment (e.g. temperature, salinity and chlorophyll) in which these organisms are living and interacting with.

Traditionally, net sampling (like the MOCNESS deplyed earlier in the expedition) was used to understand the distribution of planktonic organisms. However, due to the fragile nature of many of these organisms they are often destroyed when using plankton nets to collect them.

This relatively new optical method allows us to dive and observe the abundance and distribution of fragile planktonic organisms in their own microscopic space, and gives new insights into plankton ecology and their role in the global carbon cycle.

We collected hundreds of thousand images so far which are, after training the computer, classified automatically into categories. Using this novel approach on this expedition, we are able to rapidly resolve the evolution of the plankton community from winter to spring conditions within different water masses.

The new knowledge will help us understand the consequences to fish stocks as well as climate change. We have finished the first leg of the cruise successfully and we are now on our second round. We are curious to see what changes are about to occur during the spring bloom during our remaining time out here on the beautiful Atlantic.

Too bad that you are not here to experience this!

Thank you for following and all the best.

Additional resources:
Lesson Plans:
The water colunm: where do animals belong? (K3-5) by National Geographic link

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3 thoughts on “Flying through microspace

  1. Vielen Dank für die vielen Informationen, Bilder und Videos. Das Letzte vom 16.4.2012 hat uns besonders beeindruckt. Wir werden die cruise weiterhin verfolgen und hoffen noch mehr über
    die Arbeit mit dem VPR zu lesen und zu sehen. Alles Gute von Renate Möller

    • Thank you for the feedback, Renate!
      It is always nice to relay enthusiastic messages like this to a crew that is now 4 weeks at sea (and two more to come).

  2. Vielen Dank für die vielen Informationen, Bilder und Videos. Wir werden die cruise weiterhin verfolgen und hoffen noch mehr über die Arbeit mit dem VPR zulesen und zu sehen. Alles Gute und viel Erfolg von Renate Möller

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