Clara is a biogeochemical oceanographer from Spain who has worked across a wide range of fields in different parts of the world. She graduated with a BSc (Honours) in marine biology at the University of Liverpool in England, and then went to complete an MRes in ocean science at the National Oceanography Centre Southampton. With a strong passion for the marine environment and its conservation, Clara has worked in many projects in developing countries in Asia, Africa and South America throughout her early career and always uses photography as a tool for ocean advocacy. Now based in Tasmania, Clara has started a PhD at the Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies which aims to study the spatial and temporal variability of phytoplankton blooms in the Southern Ocean.
THESIS: The Southern Ocean Spring Bloom: assessing the temporal and spatial variability of open-ocean phytoplankton blooms
The Southern Ocean is a key factor to consider when studying processes affecting Australia’s climate. Not only is essential for understanding global cycles but it is also one of the largest regions in the world where carbon dioxide uptake takes place. Every year, large phytoplankton blooms form in the Southern Ocean, known as the spring bloom, initiating changes in the ocean’s biogeochemistry. These perturbations on biogeochemical cycles alter the productivity and dynamics of the ecosystem, and, through ocean-atmosphere interaction, eventually lead to repercussions in climate change, promoting extreme events such as intensification of rainfall in Australia. Understanding phytoplankton dynamics, bloom initiations and their sensitivity to climate projections, are therefore crucial to predict changes in the Southern Ocean’s biogeochemistry and the eventual consequences in future climate scenarios.