Return To The Mesocosms – Part One (by Lisa)

The Story so far:

In the Mediterranean Sea (not) far, far away………
It’s been 6 months since our intrepid scientists last visited the mesocosms. How will they cope with the change of location, the change in temperature & (more importantly) the change in sea temperature? There’s only one way to find out!!

Ok, joking aside, I’m sure that more than a few of us were a bit apprehensive about the change in sampling conditions; the last MedSeA mesocosm experiment took place in June/July last year in Corsica. The weather was mostly hot & sunny & most people sampled in shorts, tshirts & swimsuits with our feet dangling off the side of the cubis (our small floating sampling platforms). The water temperature was warm and comfortable and some even swam or kayaked to & fro.

Thus, a few of us greeted the news that these mesocosm experiments would be taking place in February with not a small amount of trepidation. What would be most practical to wear sampling? How could we still manipulate the integrated sampler & sampling bottles whilst still maintaining some feeling in our fingertips? Just how cold would pre-dawn sampling actually be?

Two days into the experiment, I can reveal that our fears were (mostly!) unfounded. After wrapping up warm & wearing either waterproof clothing or wetsuits it was as if we’d never been off the cubis.
Yes, it is cold, but it’s given us the chance to try various hot beverages from around Europe. So far we’ve had English Tea & Italian coffee, we look forward to Greek coffee tomorrow!

Now we can only hope that the air & water temperatures increase & bring on the start of the spring bloom – a period typically occurring in early spring where the abundance of phytoplankton increases significantly. The timing, size & length of a spring bloom can alter due to a variety of conditions such as nutrients & temperature, so it will be interesting to see the effect of ocean acidification. For me in particular it will be interesting to see the effects of the spring bloom under these conditions on various mechanisms within the nitrogen cycle – namely nitrogen fixation, nitrification & nitrate uptake.

In the meantime I’ll look forward to warming up with next hot beverage!