Upcoming and Previous Expeditions

The Royal Research Ships have embarked on hundreds of expeditions across their many years in service, exploring our oceans and undertaking world-class research in the most remote regions of our planet.

This page highlights the wide range of multi-disciplinary research expeditions undertaken by our two ships, providing an overview of each cruise and the science involved.

 

Learn about the research expeditions during 2017.

RRS Discovery and RRS James Cook

Cruise Principal scientist & institution Location Duration in days (begins) Aim
DY078/9

Penny Holliday

National Oceanography Centre, Southampton

Eastern North Atlantic 22 days

The 2017 occupation of the Extended Ellett Line, and servicing UK OSNAP moorings

The Extended Ellett Line is a hydrographic section between Iceland and Scotland that is occupied annually by scientists from the National Oceanography Centre (NOC) and the Scottish Association for Marine Science (SAMS), UK. The measurement programme began as a seasonally-occupied hydrographic section in the Rockall Trough in 1975, building on early surface observations made underway from ocean weather ships.

In 1996 the section was extended to Iceland, sampling three basins: the Rockall Trough, the Hatton-Rockall Basin and the Iceland Basin. These three basins form the main routes though which warm saline Atlantic water flows northwards into the Nordic Seas and Arctic Ocean. The section crosses the eastern North Atlantic subpolar gyre; as well as the net northward flow there is a large recirculation of the upper layers as part of the wind-driven gyre. During its passage through the region, the warm saline water is subjected to significant modification by exchange of heat and freshwater with the atmosphere. The two deep basins (Rockall Trough and Iceland Basin) contain southward flowing dense northern overflow waters and Labrador Sea Water in the intermediate layers.

UK-OSNAP is part of the international Overturning in the Subpolar North Atlantic Programme which aims to generate new knowledge and understanding of the North Atlantic Subpolar Gyre and its wider impacts on climate. The project duration is five years from September 2013. It entails activities in ocean measurement, modelling of the ocean and climate, and the analysis of results, requiring significant skills in those fields.

The specific objectives of this cruise are:

  • To complete the annual Extended Ellett Line CTD section;
  • To service the UK OSNAP Eastern Boundary moorings;
  • To collect water samples for measuring biogeochemical properties including dissolved oxygen and nutrients;
  • To collect underway measurements of surface currents, surface temperature and salinity, bathymetry, surface meteorology;
  • To complete epibenthic sled tows at a deep location in the central Rockall Trough;
  • To deploy Argo floats provided by the UK Met Office as a contribution to the International Argo Project.
DY080

Ewan Wakefield

University of Glasgow

Charlie Gibbs Fracture Zone, NW Atlantic 24 days

The Distribution and Ecology of Seabirds in the Sub-Polar Frontal Zone of the Northwest Atlantic

Summary

This cruise aims to survey and sample of seabirds in the Northwest Atlantic to examine multiple aspects of their ecology. In addition, complimentary studies on physical oceanography, nutrient dynamics and cetaceans will be undertaken.

Background

Breeding seabirds are a familiar sight in coastal areas but pelagic species, such as shearwaters and fulmars, spend most of their time far out at sea. Typically, they travel 100s to 1000s of km from their colonies to provision their offspring and may migrate across oceans during non-breeding periods. Until recently this made them enigmatic but the development of bird-borne tracking devices is now providing incredible insights into their movements and behaviour. Nonetheless, many fundamental aspects of their ecology (diet, niche partitioning, etc.) remain poorly understood.

This is of concern for a number of reasons: Firstly, pelagic seabirds may be major consumers of mesotrophic organisms in many areas of the world’s oceans, thereby exerting top-down control of pelagic ecosystems. Moreover, recent studies on functionally homologous cetaceans suggest an intriguing possibility - that by rapidly resupplying nutrients (and particularly iron) within the photic zone, seabirds enhance primary production within oceanic waters, mediating carbon drawdown. Similarly, due to their wide ranging movements, they may provide important links between disparate marine ecosystems, such as those on and off-shelf or in different hemispheres.

Secondly, shearwaters and other large petrels rely on the wind in order to fly efficiently. This constrains them to follow least-cost pathways defined by large-scale wind patterns, much in the same way as traditional sailing ships. There is emerging evidence that climate change may alter these wind patterns, potentially impacting seabirds in either positively or negatively. In turn, this could disrupt their provision of the ecosystem services alluded above.

Finally, negative impacts from human activities, such as fisheries and the introduction of invasive species to breeding colonies, mean that as many as 40% of seabird species may become functionally extinct by 2100. There is therefore an urgent need to identify areas used most frequently by seabirds so that potentially harmful human activities can be mitigated.

Early seabird biologists worked largely from ships, piecing together data on distribution, movement and diet, often through lethal sampling of birds. There followed a shift to colony-based studies, and latterly to remote observation using bird-borne devices. Since the pioneering days, surprisingly few studies have been carried out at sea in the deep Atlantic, despite the fact that the area is bounded by large seabird colonies and some of the world’s most developed countries. A recent meta-analysis of tracking data by BirdLife International and others has identified a potentially important hotspot of seabird diversity and abundance in the deep Northwest Atlantic. It has been suggested that this area, which lies in the vicinity of the sub-polar front, south of the Charlie Gibbs Fracture Zone (CGFZ), should be designated as a High Seas Marine Protected Area but more data are needed to confirm its importance.

Context

Expedition DY080 is being undertaken as part of the NERC-funded project Seabirds and wind - the consequences of extreme prey taxis in a changing climate.  

This project has five broad objectives:

  • to estimate the distribution, movements and behaviour of key seabird populations during breeding and non-breeding stages and determine the dependence of these processes on movement constraints and habitat;
  • to quantify temporal variation in habitat use within species and niche partitioning between them;
  • to predict how wind-mediated seabird movement corridors are likely to change under future climate change scenarios and estimate how this will affect the ecosystem functions performed by seabirds;
  • to estimate nutrient recycling and transport within and between marine ecosystems by seabirds; and
  • to facilitate the conservation of seabirds and other higher marine predators by identifying potential High Seas Marine Protected Areas.

The study focuses on four morphologically similar speceis: Cory's shearwaters (Calonectris diomedea), northern fulmars (Fulmarus glacialis), great shearwaters (Ardenna gravis) and sooty shearwaters (Ardenna grisea).

During the project, these species will be tracked using gelocation and time-depth loggers deployed at their colonies. In addition, we intend to track the latter two species at higher resolution using satellite tags deployed on birds caught at sea. This will allow simultaneous observation of individual birds, seabird communities, and the environment in which they forage.

Expedition Aims

  • To estimate the distribution, abundance and behaviour of seabirds and cetaceans in a study area centred on the sub-polar front, south of the Charlie Gibbs Fracture Zone (CGFZ), and to survey these species en route to and from the study area.
  • To develop non-lethal methods of catching seabirds at sea.
  • To estimate the diet, stable isotope and contaminant loading, faecal nutrient content and moult status of seabirds within the study area.
  • To determine the comparative habitat use of great and sooty shearwaters on and off the Canadian continental shelf and the timing of their movements between these areas.
  • To map the location of major frontal features and nutrient regimes within the study area.
  • To estimate the vertical distribution and biomass of mesopelagic nekton within the study area.
  • To conduct in vitro phytoplankton incubation experiments to estimate rates of nutrient cycling within the study area.

Participating institutes: The University of Glasgow, Environment Canada, the Sea Mammal Research Unit, the University of Manitoba, the University of Rhode Island, the University of Coiumbra, GEOMAR, CEFAS, the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds.

DY081

Kate Hendry

University of Bristol

North Atlantic / Labrador Sea 32 days

Project ICY-LAB: Isotope cycling in the Labrador Sea

The high-latitude regions are experiencing some of the most rapid changes observed in recent decades: polar temperatures are rising twice as fast as the global mean and there are concerns about the impact of sea-ice and glacier retreat on global oceans and climate. The aim of this European Research Council project, ICY-LAB, is to understand the impact of changes in glacial input and ocean circulation on marine biogeochemical cycling of essential nutrients that support oceanic productivity.

Diatoms are photosynthetic algae that are responsible for nearly half of the export of carbon from the sea surface to the seafloor, and they are a sensitive indication of the state of nutrient cycling. Diatoms are one of many organisms that precipitate biogenic opal, an amorphous glass made of silica (hydrated SiO2), in order to form protective skeletons, and one of the essential nutrients is therefore dissolved silicon (Si) in the form of silicic acid.

The approach will be to capture the whole silicon cycle system in areas of marked environmental change using careful field sampling strategies – with research expeditions to coastal Greenland and the open ocean Labrador Sea – coupled with cutting-edge isotope geochemistry methods. During expedition DY081 we will be collecting samples from locations within the Labrador Sea in the NW Atlantic, including seamounts that are influenced by different oceanic currents, and the Greenland shelf. We will collect samples of seawater, particles, sediments and biological specimens, all the way from surface waters to within the seafloor sediments.

From the RRS Discovery, we will deploy Conductivity Temperature Depth (CTD) rosettes to collect physical oceanographic data and water samples, Stand Alone Pumps (SAPs) to collect particles within the water, and sediment corers. Finally, we will use a Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV) to collect water, sediment and biological samples from near the seafloor. The international expedition team is multi-disciplinary, including geochemists, physical oceanographers, palaeoceanographers, engineers, and biologists – some specialising in algae and some specialising in seafloor dwelling creatures.

The results will lead to an unprecedented and cross-disciplinary view of nutrient cycling, biomineralisation, and the taxonomy and biogeography of siliceous organisms in an ecologically important region of the North Atlantic.

You can read more about the project here

Twitter page here

DY083

REFIT

Aitken Hunter

Amsterdam 26 days

RRS Discovery Refit 2017

The refit on RRS Discovery in 2017 will be an alongside, afloat repair period.  This period will concentrate on annual statutory certification surveys, fabric maintenance of the vessel and annual maintenance to the cranes and lifeboats.


We will also be rectifying some of the deficiencies identified during the 2016/17 Science Verification Period trials.

DY084 Andy Rees

Plymouth Marine Laboratory

Atlantic Ocean 40 days

The Atlantic Meridional Transect - AMT

The Atlantic Meridional Transect programme (AMT) is a NERC National Capability project with objectives to:

  • quantify the nature and causes of ecological and biogeochemical variability in planktonic ecosystems;
  • quantify the effects of this variability on nutrient cycling, on biogenic export and on air-sea exchange of climate active gases;
  • construct a multi-decadal, multidisciplinary ocean time-series which is integrated within a wider “Pole-to-pole” observatory concept;
  • provide essential sea-truth validation for current and next generation satellite missions;
  • provide essential data for global ecosystem model development and validation and;
  • provide a valuable, highly sought after training arena for the next generation of UK and International oceanographers.

AMT also provides a contextual logistical and scientific infrastructure for independently funded national and international open ocean biogeochemical and ecological research.

AMT is a time series of stations along a transect of ~13,500 km in the Atlantic Ocean between the UK and South Atlantic.

Twenty six cruises have been completed so far, and the data collected have contributed to >300 peer reviewed publications and 68 PhD theses. Further information can be found here.

Expedition DY084 (AMT-27) will take place between Southampton and the Falkland Islands in September-October 2017.

On-board will be scientists from Plymouth Marine Lab, the National Oceanography Centre, the British Oceanographic Data Centre and the University of Southampton who will be working to deliver on projects funded by NERC (twilight zone nitrogen cycling) and ESA (calibration/validation of Sentinel-3 satellite) in addition to the AMT-NC science deliverables.

Daily routine will involve stations at pre-dawn and mid-day which will include water column sampling using CTD, bongo nets and optical instrumentation.  

Data collected during previous AMT cruises is available from here

Twitter

Facebook

DY085

Phyllis Lam

University of Southampton

Atlantic Ocean 5 days

Shortcuts in the Oceanic Nitrogen Cycle (SONIC)

The overarching goal of this project is to determine whether a shortcut exists in the remineralisation of organic nitrogen back to nitrate in the ocean’s twilight zone, and its potential significance in the oceanic nitrogen budget.

Why nitrogen? - Nitrogen (N) is often a limiting nutrient to biological production, thus its availability in the surface ocean and subsequent export of organic carbon into the deep ocean are major determinants of the ocean’s ability to sequester atmospheric CO2: the Ocean’s biological pump.


Why twilight zone? - Once exported from the surface ocean, organic matter is mostly remineralised back to CO2 and nutrients, with >90% occurring in the twilight zone (mesopelagic) between the sunlit surface and the deep dark ocean.


Why remineralisation? - The depth of remineralisation within this transition zone, and which mechanisms are involved govern the exact amounts and appropriate forms of nutrients that can be returned to surface ocean to support phytoplankton growth.

Hence, accurate and quantitative understanding of nitrogen remineralisation pathways and remineralisation depths are essential to the projection of how global environmental changes may affect ocean productivity and so CO2 sequestration. Despite such importance, actual quantification of nitrogen remineralisation fluxes in the mesopelagic is completely lacking.

This project will combine a series of 15N-labelling experiments, functional gene analyses, metaproteomics and single-cell techniques to identify the microbial pathways and organisms responsible for the direct or stepwise conversion of organic nitrogen to nitrate in the oceanic twilight zone; and quantitatively assess the relative importance of each identified pathway in the mesopelagic versus lower euphotic zones. In order to better evaluate the global significance of the observed pathways, the above-mentioned experiments and analyses are to be conducted on samples collected from various surface nutrient regimes, thus making the AMT cruise that traverses multiple biogeochemical ocean provinces from the UK to the Falkland Islands in the Atlantic the ideal opportunity for our sampling and experimental campaign.

Expedition DY085 is thus to be integrated with the AMT expedition (DY084), with the added station time every few days to allow for additional water sampling and deployment of the large-volume standalone pump arrays specific for this project.  Incubation experiments will be conducted on board ship at various temperatures mimicking in situ conditions.  Subsamples for various stable isotope, inorganic and organic analyses, and molecular biological analyses are to be collected at various time intervals for later analyses in shore-based laboratories.  We will work closely with the AMT team on sampling/ analytical logistics and data sharing, in order to achieve both of our shared and complementary research goals.

DY086 Richard Sanders

National Oceanography Centre, Southampton

South Georgia

South Atlantic Ocean

41 days

Controls over Ocean Mesopelagic Interior Carbon Storage - COMICS

The surface ocean is home to billions of microscopic plants called phytoplankton which produce organic matter in the surface ocean using sunlight and carbon dioxide. When they die they sink, taking this carbon into the deep ocean, where it is stored on timescales of hundreds to thousands of years, which helps keep our climate the way it is today.
 
The size of the effect they have on our climate is linked to how deep they sink before they dissolve - the deeper they sink, the more carbon is stored.  This sinking carbon also provides food to the animals living in the ocean's deep, dark 'twilight zone'.
 
Computer models can help us predict how future changes in greenhouse gas emissions might change this ocean carbon store.  Current models however struggle with making these predictions. This is partly because  until recently we haven't even been able to answer the basic question 'Is there enough food for all the animals living in the twilight zone?'. But in a breakthrough this year we used new technology and new theory to show that there is indeed enough food.
 
So now we can move on to asking what controls how deep the carbon sinks. There are lots of factors which might affect how deep the material sinks but at the moment we can't be sure which ones are important. We think that two important ones are the amount of surface biomass and the amount of oxygen inside the ocean.
 
In this project we will make oceanographic expeditions to two different places where only these factors vary to test how these different factors affect carbon storage in the deep ocean.
 
DY086 is the first of those expeditions. The second is to the South Atlantic just off South Africa in mid 2018. On both expeditions we will measure the carbon sinking into the twilight zone and the biological processes going on within it.
 
Then we will determine if the systems are balanced - in other words, what goes in, should come out again. We will then write equations linking all the parts of the system together and analyse them to make them more simple.
 
At the same time we will test whether the simple equations are still useful  by seeing if they produce good global maps of ocean properties for which we have lots of data.
 
Finally, when we are happy that our new equations are doing a good job we will use them in a computer model to predict the future store of carbon in the ocean and how it will change as the ocean warms.

Further information can be found here

YouTube playlist

JC149 Jenny Collier

Imperial College London

Caribbean 61 days

Volatile recycling at the Lesser Antilles Arc: Processes and consequences

Everyone has probably heard of the water cycle at the Earth’s surface, where the exchange happens between the sea and the atmosphere via evaporation, cloud formation and rain. However there is also a water cycle within the Earth, where the exchange happens between the sea and the solid Earth.

The most important step in this lesser-known cycle is when water trapped in the oceanic crust is returned to the deep interior at subduction zones as part of the plate tectonic cycle.  As the sinking plate heats up and gets squeezed a large fraction of the incoming water is "sweated off" and added to the overlying mantle where it causes melting. These melts feed volcanoes above which are dangerously explosive. This activity, combined with the earthquakes triggered by the plates scraping past each other and the consequent tsunamis and landslides, makes subduction zones the most hazardous places on Earth.

Yet these regions also have many benefits: the cocktail of fluids travelling with the melts concentrates valuable metal deposits and the fine ash erupted by the explosive volcanoes produces nutrient-rich, fertile soils.

The aim of the NERC VOILA (Volatile cycling in the Lesser Antilles arc) research programme is to take a holistic approach to the cycling of volatiles (water, along with other volatiles such as carbon dioxide and sulphur) into the deep Earth at the Lesser Antilles subduction zone. Here the North American plate, soaked with water from the Atlantic Ocean subducts beneath the Caribbean plate.  

The project combines a range of Earth scientists with skills in petrology, geochemistry, numerical modelling as well as marine geophysics to track the passage of the water as it goes into and out of the subduction zone system.

During Cruise JC149 we will conduct seismic surveys into an array of seismometers deployed on the seabed and on the islands. We will use methods similar to medical X-ray imaging to produce a new velocity model of the volcanic arc. This will improve hazard assessment by improving earthquake locations.

The distribution of the array should allow detection of small earthquake events not resolvable from the current land station network. We will also make surveys of the subducting plate.

This will allow us to answer specific questions such as is there a link between the fluid content of the incoming plate and the structure and hazard distribution along the volcanic arc?

JC150 Claire Mahaffey

University of Liverpool

Subtropical

North Atlantic

48 days

Zinc, iron and phosphorus co-limitation in the ocean

At present, on-going warming is predicted to reduce the physical supply of essential nutrients, nitrate and phosphate to the surface ocean, and hence control future trends in productivity in the subtropical gyres.

However, this view ignores the significant additions of nitrogen to the subtropical ocean from both natural and anthropogenic atmospheric input that decouples nitrate and phosphate, causing phosphate stress for phytoplankton. This will drive an ‘arms race’ towards accessing alternative forms of phosphorus, such as dissolved organic phosphorus.

Recent work by our team and others suggests that availability of trace metals, specifically zinc and iron, regulates the uptake of alternative phosphorus pools. If such phenomena are widespread, this suggests that predictions of future trends in biological activity are inaccurate and instead we need to consider expansion and intensification of a phosphate-deplete ocean. By combining novel observational and modelling experiments, we will gain a more complete quantitative understanding of how trace metals regulate phosphorus acquisition and thus biological activity in the contemporary and future ocean.

During JC150, our aim is to quantitatively assess the role of zinc and iron in regulating phosphorus acquisition by key phytoplankton groups, specifically the nitrogen fixer, Trichodesmium and the cyanobacteria, Prochlorococcus and Synechococcus. We will achieve this aim by performing a series of trace metal clean bioassay experiments at 6 stations along a westward transect from Guadeloupe to Tenerife at a latitude of ~ 20°N.

In these low phosphate subtropical waters, phytoplankton are known to deploy alternative strategies to acquire organic phosphorus. We will collect seawater using the trace metal clean titanium CTD rosette and sampling bottles. We will add a range of concentrations of zinc and iron (alongside other nutrients) and determine the impact of these trace metals on the rate of organic phosphorus acquisition, growth and carbon and nitrogen fixation and incubate under in situ light and temperature conditions for 48 hours. In addition, we will collaborate with international experts in the field of single cell elemental quotas and proteomics to determine the impact of trace metal additions on cell quotas and protein production.

In addition to trace metal clean bioassay experiments, we will exploit the natural gradients in inorganic nutrients and trace metals along the transect to determine the natural variability in rates of phosphorus acquisition, carbon and nitrogen fixation, cell quotas and proteomics.

Twitter account for JC150    @MahaffeyLab

Blog

JC152 Tim Minshull

National Oceanography Centre, Southampton

North Sea 18 days

Characterising leakage pathways through the overburden of the North Sea

CHIMNEY is a NERC-funded project examining potential leakage pathways from reservoirs in which carbon dioxide might in future be stored. The location of CO2 leakage and the potential intensity of CO2 leakage at the seafloor are critically dependent on the distribution of fluid pathways in the sediment overburden and on the permeability of these pathways.

Evaluation of seismic reflection data as part of a recently completed EU project (ECO2) has revealed ubiquitous structures cross­cutting vertically through the overburden within the North Sea and Norwegian Sea.

These seismically ­imaged pipes and chimneys are considered to be pathways for sedimentary fluid flow. Natural gas from deeper strata is likely to have migrated through these structures into the water column at some point in geological time. If the CO2 plume reaches the base of these structures, and if their permeability is high enough they will act as pathways for CO2 leakage. To provide a reliable prediction of seep sites, and a quantitative assessment of CO2 emissions, the nature and especially the permeability of these pathways needs to be better constrained.

It has been suggested that many chimney and pipe structures imaged on seismic reflection profiles in the North Sea represent (1) a fracture network that has been reactivated by pore fluid pressure which facilitates the migration of fluids upwards; and (2) nearer surface lateral migration of fluids along stratigraphic interfaces.

The CHIMNEY project will include a geophysical field program and associated rock physics experiments, geochemistry and modelling, to constrain chimney permeability.  It will be closely linked to related work within the EU Horizon2020 project STEMM-­CCS.

During expedition JC152 in August-September 2017, we will complete a broad frequency range anisotropy experiment over a chimney structure within the North Sea. We will deploy 25 Ocean Bottom Seismometers from the UK Ocean Bottom Instrumentation Facility, and record signals generated by low frequency airguns, GI guns and a higher frequency deep tow sparker.

The cruise will follow on and be closely linked to a STEMM-CCS cruise on the German vessel RV Maria S Merian in May 2017, during which high-resolution 3D seismic reflection and controlled source electromagnetic surveys will be conducted across the same chimney structure, and the structure will be drilled by the British Geological Survey’s RD2 rock drill.


Further information can be found here.

JC153

Refit

Alan Black

Amsterdam 27 Days

Refit

The annual refit to the RRS James Cook will take place at the Damen Shipyard Amsterdam over the period 16th September -13th October 2017. This will be followed by five days of basin trials leading onto approximately eight weeks of extensive deep sea winch trials.

Major items of note:-

  1. Completion of annual surveys by both LR and MCA.
  2. Up-grade of the scientific winch control drive system by Rolls-Royce.
  3. Upgrade of the EM120 echo sounder, to the EM122 version and carried out by Kongsberg.
  4. Up-grades to the K-Bridge navigational equipment, again carried out by Kongsberg.
  5. Blue drive thruster control up-grades to both Azimuth and bow thruster units, this being carried out by Siemens.

These up-grades will be carried out alongside the normal refit specification work as presented to the Shipyard. This specification will be readily available on-board the vessel during the refit period should any-one wish to consult it.

JC156

Alessandro Tagliabue

University of Liverpool

Subtropical North Atlantic 43 days

The impact of mid-ocean ridges on the ocean's iron cycle - FRIDGE

Mid-ocean ridges are significant sources of iron to the ocean due to hydrothermal activity, with dramatic iron plumes that persist for thousands of km away from the ridge.

The impact of hydrothermal iron on the ocean carbon cycle depends both on the longevity of the iron plumes and the mixing of iron into surface waters, with both aspects poorly constrained.

Thus our understanding of how the ocean iron cycle functions is incomplete. This is important as the influence of ocean biology on ocean-atmosphere carbon dioxide exchanges via the biological pump is controlled by iron availability over large parts of the ocean.

Our cruise will document the changes in iron supply, cycling and speciation along the diverse hydrothermal systems of the northern Mid Atlantic Ridge. We will link observational science with state of the art ocean modelling to assess the global influence of mid ocean ridges on the ocean iron cycle and the sustenance of surface productivity. This cruise is also a UK contribution to the international GEOTRACES programme and is designated as an approved section GA-13.

JC159

Brian King

National Oceanography Centre, Southampton

 

South Atlantic 24S 42 days

Ocean Regulation of Climate through Heat and Carbon Sequestration and Transports (ORCHESTRA): Atlantic 24S

Background:

Climate change is one of the most urgent issues facing humanity and life on Earth.

A critical gap in our understanding of how the climate system works concerns the uptake of heat and carbon by the oceans. Over 93% of the extra heat now present in the Earth System because of global warming has entered the ocean, with the recent IPCC assessment showing strong increases in the energy stored in both the upper ocean and deep ocean since the 1970s. The Southern Ocean is disproportionately important in this regard, since it is a key site where water modified by contact with the atmosphere can feed into both the upper layers of the global ocean and its deepest levels.


Consequently, the Southern Ocean accounts for ~50% of oceanic carbon uptake and >75% of the heat uptake. However, reliable projections of the future trajectories of these uptakes are currently not possible, due to the lack of process-based understanding of the governing mechanisms, the absence of a robust network of in-situ observations with which to detect and interpret changes, and inadequately parameterised models.

The proposed expedition:

The proposed expedition is a coast-to-coast full depth hydrographic section, with physical and biogeochemical measurements. The section will cross the Atlantic at 24S. We will occupy up to 150 full-depth stations, where the ship will stop and lowered equipment will measure ocean temperature from surface to seabed. Water samples will be collected at discrete levels through the profile, and brought back to the ship’s deck, where analysts will measure the concentration of dissolved carbon dioxide, dissolved oxygen and nutrients that are vital for ocean biological productivity.


When we cross the Atlantic at 24S we will measure the amount of heat and dissolved carbon crossing the section from south to north, and therefore being exchanged between the Southern Ocean and the rest of the Atlantic. This will contribute to the global picture of how the oceans redistribute the heat and dissolved carbon taken up by the Southern Ocean. Some of that extra take-up is carried up to the North Atlantic, where it impacts on European climate.


Measurements were last made on this section by a UK expedition in March/April 2009.

We will be looking to see how things have changed in the intervening nine years.

Learn about the research expeditions during 2016–17.

RRS James Cook

Cruise Principal scientist & institution Location Duration in days (begins) Aim
JC136

Kerry Howell

University of Plymouth

Rockall Trough

GBSOU – GBSOU

40

(May 2016)

Influence of population connectivity on depth-dependent diversity of deep-sea marine benthic biota

In the deep-sea (>200m) the bathyal region of the continental slope has been identified as an area where the rate of origination of new species is high. The reasons for this are not clear, but key to its understanding lies in understanding how populations are connected and if and how they become isolated. The aim of this NERC funded project is to elucidate patterns of population connectivity in the deep-sea utilising realised gene flow and larval dispersal models, coupled with analysis of community-scale patterns.

The JC136 expedition will focus on an area of the UKs deep-sea, west of Scotland. The aims of the expedition will be to obtain physical samples of selected animal species for molecular analysis, benthic biological survey data for community level analysis, and a small amount of oceanographic data to validate oceanographic models.

On the expedition will we will use the UK's remotely operated vehicle (ROV ISIS) to collect samples of test species from 6 key study sites and from four depth horizons (500m or summit depth, 1000m, 1500m, 2000m). We will then use a type of DNA fingerprinting to look at how closely related individuals of the same species are from populations at different sites and at different depths. These analyses will tell us how well connected the populations are.

Another part of the project will model the dispersal of larvae from the 6 sites in order to gain a mechanistic understanding of population connectivity and to see if this agrees with the genetic understanding. Another aim of the expedition will therefore be to deploy moorings at the Anton Dohrn Seamount (one of our study sites) to measure ocean currents at different depths to provide us with real data to check our ocean current models against.

Finally, we will use the Autosub6000 autonomous underwater vehicle to gather information on the benthic communities at each of the study sites. We are interested in asking whether sites that are more closely connected by ocean currents have more similar communities of species living on them, and if the degree of community similarity varies with depth.

This research not only has important implications for our understanding of population dynamics in the marine environment, it also has important implications for the future sustainable management of the marine environment because understanding how populations are connected helps us design better networks of protected areas.

Further information can be viewed here

JC138

Bramley Murton

National Oceanography Centre, Southampton

North Atlantic

PTPDL – GBFAL

48

(July 2016)

Breakthrough Solutions for the Sustainable Exploration and Extraction of Deep Sea Mineral Resources

The project is an ambitious €12M international programme to study processes of formation and preservation of seafloor mineral deposits, and evaluate their resource potential and recovery.

During July and August of 2016, Cruise JC138, on the RRS James Cook, will sail to the Mid-Atlantic Ridge to study a series of seafloor massive sulphide deposits that were formed by hydrothermal activity at a depth of 3500m below sea-level.

The cruise, led by Blue Mining project leader Bramley Murton from the National Oceanography Centre, will immediately follow a five week-long site survey cruise on the R/V Meteor by our German partners at the research centre Geomar based in Kiel, using autonomous underwater vehicles and near bottom seismic studies.

The RRS James Cook cruise will deploy novel geophysical tools such as active source electromagnetics to get a three-dimensional image of the deposit subsurface, as well as the robotic underwater vehicle HyBIS to map and sample the seafloor.

The majority of the cruise time will be used deploying a robotic sea-floor drilling rig, the RD2, developed by our project partners at the British Geological Survey. The six ton drilling rig will be lowered to the seafloor to a depth of 3500m where it will drill and recover 50m long cores through the ore deposits, acquire in situ measurements of the subseafloor rocks and their properties, and sample fluids from deep within the bore hole.

The data and samples will be analysed to understand the processes of formation, evolution and preservation of hydrothermal mineral deposits on and below the seafloor.

Blue Mining project partners include German, Portuguese, Dutch and Belgian colleagues and will run for four years.

Further information on the Blue Mining project can be found here

JC139 Refit GBFAL – GBFAL

31 days

(August 2016)

Refit

James Cook will undertake her ten-year special survey in 2016, this survey is conducted by the vessels Classification Society – Lloyds Register of Shipping & Flag State – Maritime and Coastguard Agency. This will be in dry dock for the bulk of this survey with a period alongside on completion.

Major items of note:

  • Inspection, survey, paint renewals and thickness measurements of the vessels hull plating, tanks and void spaces.
  • The rudders will be removed to facilitate removal of both propellers and propulsion tail shafts. It is known that both tail shafts, which are 17m long, have been damaged since build as are the shaft stern bearings, all items are scheduled to be replaced.
  • Two of the vessels thrusters are due for a major overhaul, service and survey.
  • Upgrade to the vessels scientific winch system drive suite.
  • Renewal of the wooden working deck and thickness measurements of the steel structure underneath.
  • Renewal of the floor coverings in parts of the accommodation.
  • Renewal of benches etc., within laboratories.
  • Installation of variable speed drives to sea water pumps, this will result in less erosion of system pipework, saving money on repairs and will realise energy savings.
JC142

Bramley Murton

National Oceanography Centre, Southampton

North Atlantic (Madeir-Tores Rise)

40

(October 2016)

Marine ferromanganese deposits – a major resource of E-tech elements (MarineE-tech)

Seafloor ferromanganese oxides represent the most important yet least explored resource of ‘E-tech’ elements on the planet. These polymetallic deposits form a continuum from nodules rich in manganese and cobalt to crusts rich in tellurium and the heavy rare earth elements (HREE) (Hein et al., 2003). It is this combination of traditional (base) metals and the extreme enrichment of ‘E-tech’ elements that makes seafloor ferromanganese oxide deposits particularly interesting to both science and society. A recent estimate of the global resource, based on the sparse data available, infers a dry mass of ferromanganese crusts on the seafloor of 35 x 109 tonnes (35GT). Of this, 3.7 GT is predicted in the Indian Ocean, 8 GT in the Atlantic, and 23 GT in the Pacific (Halbach, 1984).

At a global scale, the processes controlling the formation and distribution of Fe-Mn deposits are reasonably well understood. Much of this knowledge, however, is drawn from sparse sampling across wide ocean basins. As a result, there remains a fundamental gap in understanding of the role of local-scale factors, such as micro-topography, ocean currents and upwelling, sedimentation rates, micro-organisms, water mass composition and biological productivity, that are considered crucial to controlling the growth and composition of Fe-Mn deposits. Indeed, quantitative information for these processes and their relative importance in deposit formation is almost completely absent. Hence, to make any significant advance in understanding these deposits requires new and fundamental research.

During October to December this year, we will undertake a multi-disciplinary research programme that combines geology, geophysics, geochemistry, hydrography and microbiology to understand the local controls on ferromanganese oxide deposits at a seamount and micro-basin scale. Our study focuses on the Tropic Seamount (north-east Atlantic) and Rio Grande Rise and adjacent basins (south-west Atlantic). In addition, we will explore the environmental impacts of ore extraction and novel low-carbon approaches to the recovery of E-tech elements.

Expedition JC142 will depart and return to Tenerife in the Canary Islands. While at the Tropic Seamount, we will deploy the autonomous underwater vehicle 'Autosub 6000', and the remotely operated vehicle 'ISIS' to map and sample ferromanganese crusts across this 50km wide gyot. The gyot (a flat-topped seamount) rises some 3km from the abyssal plain where it forms a plateaux at a depth of ~1100m. Here, the conditions over the past 20 million years have led to the growth of ferromanganese-rich crusts.

Autosub6000 is NOC's deep-diving autonomous underwater vehicle, famous for its discovery of the deepest hydrothermal vents know on Earth in the Caribbean at a depth of 5000m. It will carry a number of sensors including sidescan and swath bathymetry sonar and bottom photography to map crusts and sessile biology. ISIS is NOC's deep-diving ROV and will deploy a core drill to sample over 100 sites for manganese crusts. In addition, we will deploy hydrographic moorings to map Taylor Columns and other turbulence fields caused by the seamount, and a benthic lander to monitor sediment plumes generated by the ROV to simulate seafloor mining disturbance. We will also deploy HyBIS (NOC's versatile robotic underwater vehicle) to deliver payloads and conduct surveys and collect samples from the Rio Grande Rise.

The MarineE-tech project and expedition JC142 involves partners from NOC, BGS, University of Southampton, HR Wallingford, Gardline Marine Environmental Surveys Ltd., the Spanish Geological Survey and the University of São Paulo, Brazil (funded through the science funding agency FAPESP).

Further information can be found here

JC146

Darren Rayner

National Oceanography Centre, Southampton

Canary Islands

GBSOU – GBSOU

3

(December 2016)

Recovery of RAPID MYRTLE-X lander

The RAPID project deployed a telemetry system in October 2015 (DY039) that was scheduled to automatically release data pods throughout the 18 month deployment for satellite transmission of the data to shore.

The telemetry system comprises a lander deployed next to a mooring with communication between the two by acoustic modem. The pods are intended to be released from the lander, but there has been no contact from the two pods that should have surfaced before this date.

JC146 will recover the lander frame only, which is sited in international waters approximately 200 miles SW of the Canary Islands. Redeployment is scheduled on JC145.

JC145

David Smeed

National Oceanography Centre, Southampton

North Atlantic

ESSCT – BSFPO

45

(February 2017)

The RAPID 26°N program

There is a northward transport of heat throughout the Atlantic, reaching a maximum of 1.3PW (25% of the combined atmosphere-ocean global heat flux) around 26°N. The heat transport is a balance of the northward flowing warm Gulf Stream, and southward flowing cold North Atlantic Deep Water. Together these are known as the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC). Variations in the AMOC have important impacts on the climate of the Atlantic and surrounding regions.

Since 2004 the RAPID program has been continuously monitoring the AMOC and associated northward heat transport at 26°N. The time series of the AMOC produced by the RAPID program is freely available from here and is widely used by ocean and climate scientists around the world.

There are three components to the AMOC. Firstly monitoring of the AMOC at 26°N is facilitated because the Gulf Stream transport is confined to the Florida Strait where it is measured using a subsea cable. A second part of the AMOC is the shallow wind driven transport, referred to as the Ekman flow. This is measured by satellite scatterometers. The third part is ‘mid-ocean’ circulation from the Florida Strait to the coast of Africa and this flow is monitored by the RAPID team at the National Oceanography Centre, Southampton. An array of moored instruments take measurements of temperature, salinity and currents across the Atlantic. Once every 18 months the array is serviced. Instruments are recovered and serviced and the data downloaded before the moorings are deployed again.

Recently oxygen and biogeochemical sensors have been added to the array as part of the ABC project. The North Atlantic is thought to be accumulating human carbon emissions faster than anywhere else in the ocean and the ABC project aims to quantify the variability of the transport of carbon dioxide by the overturning circulation.

Learn about the research expeditions during 2016–17.

RRS Discovery

Cruise Principal scientist & institution Location Duration in days (begins) Aim
DY050

Mark Stinchcombe

National Oceanography Centre, Southampton

Northeast Atlantic

GBSOU – GBSOU

20

(April 2016)

Biogeochemistry at the PAP sustained observatory

This application is for a cruise which supports the sustained observatory at the PAP site and which continues the observations of the oceanography at this location in the subpolar gyre and the processes which occur there. A crucial part of the cruise is to recover the moorings which comprise the observatory and which were deployed in June 2015 and to deploy a new set of moorings. In addition to this, scientists from across Europe who have expertise in water column and benthic biology and biogeochemistry will make observations which complement the data obtained by the observatory and which cannot be made autonomously such as rate processes (e.g., primary production, zooplankton feeling etc.) and sampling which cannot be done autonomously such as benthic trawling and coring.

Further information can be found at here and here     

DY051

Ursula Witte

Oceanlab, University of Aberdeen

Rockall Trough and Slope

GBSOU – GBGRK

21

(May 2016)

Pressure-dependence of organic matter turnover and hydrocarbon degradation by deep-sea microbial communities

DY051 will visit Goban Spur and Porcupine Seabight, as well as the Rockall Trough, to trial a novel, pressure-coring, experimentation and cultivation system that enables studies of deep-sea prokaryote biodiversity and ecosystem functioning, under ambient or manipulated pressure, temperature and oxygen conditions from any medium sized ocean going research ship with deep-sea coring capability. The MAC-EXP system, developed through a NERC technology development grant, will provide a flexible, cost-effective alternative to in situ experimentation aiming to study the diversity and function of deep-sea prokaryote communities, in particular at the continental margins.

The main aim of the cruise is two-fold:

  • To investigate the pressure dependence of microbial DOC and POC turnover in deep-sea sediments via stable and radio-isotope tracing experiments (ITEs);
  • To investigate the natural capacity for hydrocarbon degradation in deep sea sediments West off Shetland, and identify the micro-organisms involved and their susceptibility to pressure.
DY052

Stefan Gary

Scottish Association for Marine Science

Eastern North Atlantic

GBGRK – GBGRK

18

(June 2016)

The 2016 annual occupation of the Extended Ellett Line

The Extended Ellett Line is a hydrographic section between Iceland and Scotland that is occupied annually by scientists from the National Oceanography Centre (NOC) and the Scottish Association for Marine Science (SAMS), UK.

The measurement programme began as a seasonally-occupied hydrographic section in the Rockall Trough in 1975, building on early surface observations made underway from ocean weather ships.

In 1996 the section was extended to Iceland, sampling three basins: the Rockall Trough, the Hatton-Rockall Basin and the Iceland Basin. These three basins form the main routes though which warm saline Atlantic water flows northwards into the Nordic Seas and Arctic Ocean. The section crosses the eastern North Atlantic subpolar gyre; as well as the net northward flow there is a large recirculation of the upper layers as part of the wind-driven gyre.

During its passage through the region, the warm saline water is subjected to significant modification by exchange of heat and freshwater with the atmosphere. The two deep basins (Rockall Trough and Iceland Basin) contain southward flowing dense northern overflow waters, and Labrador Sea Water in the intermediate layers.

The specific objectives of the 2016 Extended Ellett Line cruise are:

  • To complete the annual Extended Ellett Line CTD section;
  • To collect water samples for measuring biogeochemical properties including dissolved oxygen, nutrients, carbon and trace metals;
  • To collect underway measurements of surface currents, surface temperature and salinity, bathymetry, surface meteorology;
  • To complete epibenthic sled tows at a deep location in the central Rockall Trough;
  • To capture water column and sea floor video with a downward-looking camera attached to the CTD;
  • To listen for whales and dolphins with a towed hydrophone; and
  • To deploy Argo floats provided by the UK Met Office as a contribution to the International Argo Project.

Further information can be found at here

DY053

Stuart Cunningham

Scottish Association for Marine Science

Subpolar North Atlantic

GBGRK – ISREY

24

(June 2016)

The UK overturning in the Subpolar North Atlantic Program (UK-OSNAP)

UK-OSNAP is a large project which aims to generate new knowledge and understanding of the North Atlantic Subpolar Gyre and its wider impacts on climate. The project duration is five years and it began on 1 September 2013. It entails activities in ocean measurement, modeling of the ocean and climate, and the analysis of results, requiring significant skills in those fields. Accordingly we assembled a team of experts from around the UK: from the National Oceanography Centre's two sites in Southampton and Liverpool, from the Scottish Association for Marine Science in Oban, from the Physics and Earth Sciences Departments of the University of Oxford, and from the Department of Earth, Ocean and Ecological Sciences of the University of Liverpool.

There is mounting evidence from measurements and models of the importance of the transports of heat and freshwater by the North Atlantic Subpolar Gyre (SPG) for impacts on North Atlantic, European and global climate via temperature, precipitation and wind strength, and also on marine ecosystems, hurricanes, even rainfall in the Sahel, the Amazon and parts of the US. The SPG behaves substantially differently from the Subtropical Gyre, and their mechanisms and timescales for transport and storage of heat and freshwater are very different. The SPG is inadequately measured, and no ocean general circulation or climate model represents it accurately. UK-OSNAP aims to generate new knowledge and understanding of the SPG, to improve predictions of the contribution of the SPG to climate. We are conducting a programme of sustained observation of SPG circulation and fluxes, coupled with the modelling and analysis required to deliver enhanced understanding of processes critical to the improvement of model physics and (ultimately) to the improvement of climate models. UK-OSNAP will form part of an international SPG measurement project, leveraging additional national and international investment in excess of £25M.

The outputs from UK-OSNAP are designed to benefit decadal and seasonal forecasters – particularly at the UK Met. Office and UK, European and international climate modellers. We aim to inform and influence international and domestic climate policy and decision makers through the reduction of the uncertainty of seasonal, decadal and longer-term model forecasts. These ultimately contribute to increasingly reliable projections of future climate, thereby underpinning mitigation and adaptation strategies. New understanding of environmental variability is highly valuable to organisations that provide advice for maintaining healthy and productive seas. Combination of OSNAP results with data from other locations will aid detection of any large-scale change in the system that may be underway, or evolve, in the coming years, likely to influence regional climate and require modified adaptation and mitigation policies to those currently in place

This cruise is completing work for the international and UK components of OSNAP. The purpose is to recover and redeploy US moorings in the Iceland Basin (Prof. William Johns, RSMAS) and UK moorings in the Rockall Trough (Prof. Stuart Cunningham, SAMS); deploy Argo floats to sustain the distribution of North Atlantic floats (Jon Turton, UK Met. Office); deploy RAFOS floats targeted to depths of the deep overflows (Dr Amy Bower, WHOI); deploy and recover Seagliders in the Hatton-Rockall Plateau (Prof. Mark Inall, SAMS); deploy and recover Spray gliders in the Iceland Basin (Prof. Dalei Song, Ocean University China). Standard CTD-LADCP sections will be occupied and routine shipboard observations of underway meteorology, sea-surface properties and ocean currents will be monitored.

Further information about the OSNAP program can be found here  and here

DY054

Penny Holliday

National Oceanography Centre, Southampton

Subpolar North Atlantic

ISREY – GBSOU

21

(July 2016)

The UK overturning in the Subpolar North Atlantic Program - UK-OSNAP

UK-OSNAP is a large project which aims to generate new knowledge and understanding of the North Atlantic Subpolar Gyre and its wider impacts on climate. The project duration is five years and it began on 1 September 2013. It entails activities in ocean measurement, modeling of the ocean and climate, and the analysis of results, requiring significant skills in those fields. Accordingly we assembled a team of experts from around the UK: from the National Oceanography Centre's two sites in Southampton and Liverpool, from the Scottish Association for Marine Science in Oban, from the Physics and Earth Sciences Departments of the University of Oxford, and from the Department of Earth, Ocean and Ecological Sciences of the University of Liverpool.

There is mounting evidence from measurements and models of the importance of the transports of heat and freshwater by the North Atlantic Subpolar Gyre (SPG) for impacts on North Atlantic, European and global climate via temperature, precipitation and wind strength, and also on marine ecosystems, hurricanes, even rainfall in the Sahel, the Amazon and parts of the US. The SPG behaves substantially differently from the Subtropical Gyre, and their mechanisms and timescales for transport and storage of heat and freshwater are very different. The SPG is inadequately measured, and no ocean general circulation or climate model represents it accurately. UK-OSNAP aims to generate new knowledge and understanding of the SPG, to improve predictions of the contribution of the SPG to climate. We are conducting a programme of sustained observation of SPG circulation and fluxes, coupled with the modelling and analysis required to deliver enhanced understanding of processes critical to the improvement of model physics and (ultimately) to the improvement of climate models. UK-OSNAP will form part of an international SPG measurement project, leveraging additional national and international investment in excess of £25M.

The outputs from UK-OSNAP are designed to benefit decadal and seasonal forecasters – particularly at the UK Met. Office and UK, European and international climate modellers. We aim to inform and influence international and domestic climate policy and decision makers through the reduction of the uncertainty of seasonal, decadal and longer-term model forecasts. These ultimately contribute to increasingly reliable projections of future climate, thereby underpinning mitigation and adaptation strategies. New understanding of environmental variability is highly valuable to organisations that provide advice for maintaining healthy and productive seas. Combination of OSNAP results with data from other locations will aid detection of any large-scale change in the system that may be underway, or evolve, in the coming years, likely to influence regional climate and require modified adaptation and mitigation policies to those currently in place

This cruise is completing work for the international and UK components of OSNAP. The purpose is to recover and redeploy the Netherlands moorings in the eastern Irminger Sea( Dr Laura de Steur, NIOZ) and UK moorings in the western Irminger Sea (Dr Penny Holliday, NOC). Standard CTD-LADCP sections will be occupied and routine shipboard observations of underway meteorology, sea-surface properties and ocean currents will be monitored.

Further information about the OSNAP program can be found here  and here

DY056 Refit GBHUL – GBHUL

29

(August 2016)

Refit

This is the vessel planned refit period, during which annual statutory surveys will be carried out in conjunction with various vessel maintenance tasks and scientific system improvements/modifications.

DY068 Liverpool GBLIV – GBLIV

3

(October 2016)

NERC in the North West

Following the success of the 2015 Discovery in London event, NERC and NOC are keen to continue to develop the national interest in research in the UK. A ‘NERC in the North West’ showcase event is now planned to take place in Liverpool in October 2016. This project will involve the RRS Discovery hosting a series of events and exhibitions targeted at industry, business, outreach and civic members of Liverpool and the North West community.

Further information can be found here

 

       

Scientific Verification Periods (SVPs)

To enable RRS Discovery to provide the specified scientific disciplines as designed, NERC have programmed a set of specific expeditions.

This opportunity will allow NMFSS to conduct an array of specialist scientific disciplines ensuring that each can be conducted safely, efficiently and effectively.

The expeditions will be broken down into specific elements of shore side preparation and sea going activities.

DY058

Aitken Hunter

Scientific Verification Period

North Atlantic

GBSOU – GBSOU

10

(October 2016)

DY058

During this period, NMFSS Technical Staff and External Ship Yard Repair teams, will conduct structural alterations and additions to both Discovery and the NMEP Nioz Piston Coring System.

On completion, a full mobilisation will be under taken ensuring all equipment is loaded for DY059.

DY059

Jez Evans

Scientific Verification Period

North Atlantic

GBSOU – ESSCT

19

(November 2016)

DY059 – Piston coring

During this element it is intended to conduct a variety of deployments of the Piston Coring System utilising the Bullhorn overboard gantry.

It is also the intention to commission the Ifremer Cinema Piston Corer Modelling System.

The LEBUS General Purpose Containerised Winch fitted with the Nexans Synthetic rope will be used to conduct full ocean depth (6000M+) samples.

This period will also provide an ideal opportunity for less experienced sea going technicians to receive a full course of on the job training by more senior collegues.

DY060

Aitken Hunter

Scientific Verification Period

North Atlantic

ESSCT – ESSCT

5

(October 2016)

DY060 – Shore

A quick demobilisation of equipment from DY059 will take place before the structural repair work is completed to enable the design specification of a 2 beam 6 gun array to be fitted on board.

This in itself has provided technical staff with a unique set of constraints due to the requirement to house the compressor units on the working deck in addition to the normal array of deployment equipment.

So new deployment and operation techniques will be adapted alongside the physical equipment operations.

DY061

Jason Scott

Scientific Verification Period

North Atlantic

ESSCT – ESSCT

14

(October 2015)

DY061 – Seismic

Initially work will focus on training staff and ensuring deployment operations can be conducted safely, before progressing to conducting a full seismic survey ensuring the system operates and receives data as expected.

DY071

Aitken Hunter

Scientific Verification Period

North Atlantic

GBSOU – GBSOU

25

(December 2016)

DY071 – Shore

Another quick turnaround of equipment and repair works to enable the ROV element of the SVPs to commence.

Considerable structural alterations will have been required to the overboard gantry to enable the ROV to deploy on the starboard side.

DY063

Dave Turner

Scientific Verification Period

North Atlantic

ESSCT – ESSCT

20

(January 2017)

DY063 – ROV

It is intended to conduct a full array of ROV operations paying particular attention to the deployment and recovery procedures on both the Port and Starboard sides of the ship.

Considerable modifications have been made to the propulsion and structure of the vessel to enable operations to commence.

This again leads itself to the ideal opportunity to deliver additional training to newer members of the NMFSS technical teams.

DY064

Aitken Hunter

Scientific Verification Period

North Atlantic

ESSCT – ESSCT

25

(February 2017)

DY064 – Commission

This element will provide NMFSS with the opportunity to conduct operations utilising the latest addition to the NMEP for items such as the new Lebus Double Barrel Winch for the use of mooring deployment and recovery and the new Romica PAP Winch.

It is again another valuable opportunity to provide additional training to staff to work towards the implementation of the new tiered skilled enhancement of technical staff.

DY072

Nick Harmon

National Oceanography Centre, Southampton

North Atlantic

ESSCT – GBSOU

38

(March 2017)

DY072 – Passive Imaging of the Lithosphere-Athenosphere Boundary (PiLAB)

Plate tectonics has been a fundamental tenet of Earth Science for nearly 50 years, but fundamental questions remain, such as where is the base of the plate and what makes a plate, "plate-like?" A better understanding of the transition from the rigid lithospheric plate to the weaker mantle beneath has important implications for the driving forces of plate tectonics, natural hazards, and climate change.

The Passive Imaging of the Lithosphere-Asthenosphere Boundary (PILAB) Experiment led by Catherine Rychert aims to understand the nature of the base of the tectonic plate. We will systematically image the entire length of an oceanic plate, from its birth at the Mid Atlantic Ridge to its oldest formation on the African margin. This is a large-scale focused effort with multiple scales of resolution and sensitivity, from a metre to kilometre scale using seismic and electromagnetic methods. This scale, focus, and interdisciplinary approach will finally determine the processes and properties that make a plate strong and define it.

In March 2015, on a previous cruise, 39 broadband ocean bottom seismometers (BOBS) and 39 ocean bottom electromagnetic instruments (OBEM) were deployed in the equatorial Mid Atlantic to record for one year. The dense seismic and EM array will achieve the imaging goals of the study. DY072 is the recovery cruise for these instruments and will continue marine geophysical mapping of the area.

Further information on this expedition can be found at here and here

Learn about the research expeditions during 2015–16.

RRS James Cook

Cruise Principal scientist & institution Location Duration in days (begins) Aim
JC120

Daniel Jones

National Oceanography Centre, Southampton

Pacific

MXZLO – MXZLO

34

(April 2015)

Managing Impacts of Deep-seA reSource exploitation (MIDAS)

As part of the EU Project MIDAS (Managing Impacts of Deep-seA reSource exploitation) the James Cook cruise JC120 will visit the polymetallic nodule fields in the Clarion-Clipperton Zone (CCZ) of the equatorial Pacific. There is substantial commercial interest in harvesting metal-rich nodules, which occur naturally in large quantities on the seafloor in this area, and mining activities could take place in the next few years. It is really important, before industrial extraction takes place, to assess the ecosystems of the CCZ at a scale similar to that of the potential mining activity.

The cruise will map a large area of the seafloor in very high resolution, using both acoustic techniques and photography, and carry out a detailed seabed sampling programme with two main aims:

  • To map variation in abyssal nodule habitat and link to faunal distribution, abundance and diversity in the CCZ
  • Understand geochemical properties of nodules and surrounding sediments
JC121 & JC122

Passage

Atlantic

MXZLO – GBSOU

31

(May 2015)

Passage

The vessel transited the Panama Canal on 29 May and will passage to Southampton.

Port Call Port Call

Southampton

GBSOU

15

(June 2015)

Port Call

Intentions are for 'James Cook' to commence demobilisation after arrival. The 'James Cook' will then start mobilisation for JC123. Departure from Southampton to start JC123 is scheduled for 3 July. There is a crew change scheduled for the 2 July.

JC123

Colm O'Cofaigh

Durham University

North Sea

GBSOU – GBSOU

31 days

(July 2015)

BRITICE-CHRONO – rates and style of ice sheet retreat: collapse, punctuated or steady?

Cruise JC123 is the second of two cruises on the UK vessel the RRS James Cook related to the UK 5 year NERC-funded research project “BRITICE-CHRONO: constraining rates and style of marine-influenced ice sheet decay”.

The project is led by Professor Chris Clark (University of Sheffield) and a steering group comprising Professor Colm O'Cofaigh (Marine Geology - Durham), Dr Richard Chiverrell (Terrestrial - Liverpool), Dr Derek Fabel (Geochronology - Glasgow), Professor James Scourse (Oceanography - Bangor) and Dr Richard Hindmarsh (Ice sheet modelling - BAS). The project involves some 40+ researchers from eight universities, plus the British Geological Survey, British Antarctic Survey, NERC's radiocarbon facility and Scottish Universities Environmental Research Centre as well as project partners in Ireland, Italy, Sweden and Norway.

The underlying rationale behind BRITICE-CHRONO is concern about the retreat/stability of the marine-influenced West Antarctic and Greenland ice sheets, and consequent sea-level rise. It is imperative that we can predict the future rates of change of these large ice masses but our current ability to do so is limited and a weakness in climate science. Numerical ice sheet models – capable of making predictions have yet to be adequately tested against data on the pattern and timing of a shrinking ice sheet. Although recent work has constrained the pattern of retreat of the ice sheet that once covered Ireland and Britain, the timing of that retreat is inadequately constrained. BRITICE-CHRONO is a systematic and directed campaign to collect and date material to constrain the timing and rates of change of the collapsing British-Irish Ice Sheet (BIIS).

The focus of the project is on retreat rates from marine-calving to terrestrial-melting margins and this requires that effort is split between these environments. The marine and terrestrial work is fully integrated and follows a common sampling strategy and procedure. Research effort is organised via a series of 8 transects from the continental shelf edge to a short distance (~30 km) onshore. The marine component utilises existing geophysical data archives supplied through our collaboration with the Geological Survey of Ireland and also from British Geological Survey to identify target locations.

There are two cruises on the James Cook during the project. The first cruise (JC106) took place in 2014 and focused on the Celtic and Irish seas, the northern approaches to the Barra Fan, and the NW and western Irish shelf. The second cruise (JC123) will take place in from July 3-August 3 2015 and will focus on the North Sea, the seas around the Shetland Islands and NW Scotland.

During cruise JC123 geophysical data in the form of multibeam echo sounder and sub-bottom profiler data will be collected and will be used to identify targets for coring. Coring will utilise a British Geological Survey 6m long vibrocorer system and UK Natural Environment Research Council 10m piston corer. Following collection the cores will be analysed using a range of techniques and samples of marine bivalves and foraminifera will be dated to provide a chronology of ice sheet retreat.

Further information can be viewed here

JC124

Russell Wynn

National Oceanography Centre, Southampton

Celtic Sea

GBSOU – GBSOU

4

(August 2015)

Novel AUV deployments to inform future marine monitoring strategy in UK waters

This Defra-funded project involves repeat mapping of seabed habitats and fauna within a Marine Protected Area off southwest UK. The study site is at Haig Fras, which is a candidate Special Area of Conservation (SAC) and a proposed Marine Conservation Zone (pMCZ); it is the only substantial area of rocky reef away from the coast off southwest UK.

The project involves repeat mapping of the seabed using the Autosub6000 AUV, building upon a previous Autosub6000 survey at this site undertaken in 2012. Geophysical mapping (multibeam bathymetry and sidescan sonar) will be combined with high-resolution seafloor photography to assess the extent to which different habitats and their associated fauna have changed over the three-year period. Repeat mapping during the 2015 cruise will also enable assessment of change over shorter timescales (days to weeks), and potential variability introduced by AUV survey methods.

The results will provide valuable scientific information about natural change in shelf habitats and faunal distribution over timescales of days to years (and whether this can be separated from human-induced change), and will inform policy-makers about the suitability of AUVs for repeat survey and monitoring of offshore Marine Protected Areas.

JC125

Veerle Huvenne

National Oceanography Centre, Southampton

North-east Atlantic Ocean

GBSOU – GBSOU

27

(August 2015)

Complex Deep-sea Environments: Mapping habitat heterogeneity As Proxy for biodiversity

Expedition JC125 is part of the ERC Starting Grant project CODEMAP (COmplex Deep-sea Environments: Mapping habitat heterogeneity As Proxy for biodiversity, Grant No 258482), and has affinities with the NERC MAREMAP programme. It will focus on the Whittard Canyon, a large submarine canyon system along the Celtic Margin, south-west of Ireland and the UK.

Submarine Canyons are the main transport pathways between the shelf and the deep sea, and are often considered biodiversity hotspots. Their irregular topography can create specific oceanographic effects that result in enhanced primary productivity, which then gets transported to deeper waters through the canyon. At the same time, the steep canyon walls and enhanced sediment dynamics create a wide range of seabed substrates, providing different niches for a large variety in faunal communities.

However, studying these communities and the underlying processes is a major challenge in this complex terrain. Whittard Canyon has several sections with near-vertical or overhanging walls, which cannot be studied using traditional ‘over-the-side’ scientific equipment. Using the MARS vehicles (ROV Isis and AUV Autosub6000), we will be able to obtain a correct picture of these environments, mapped and quantified in true 3D. After an initial test in Whittard Canyon in 2009, using the ROV Isis, we are now developing a new methodology to carry out further sideways mapping of the canyon walls, using Autosub6000.

Hence, the aims of the cruise are:

  • To carry out further habitat mapping at different resolutions in Whittard Canyon, to increase our understanding of the system and to test the predictive habitat models built within CODEMAP using the 2009 data
  • To test and apply further sideways multibeam mapping, in order to develop a true 3D habitat model of the canyon
  • To revisit key habitats in the canyon in order to establish potential changes over the last six years.

Further information can be viewed here

Cruise blog can be viewed here

JC126

Pete Talling

National Oceanography Centre, Southampton

Whittard Canyon

GBSOU – GBSOU

3

(September 2015)

Field test of ISIS ROV-vibracorer

The purpose of this short expedition is to field test a new type of corer, called a vibracorer, which vibrates its way into the seafloor. Other types of corer can recover samples from areas of muddy seafloor, but only a vibracorer can successfully sample areas of sandy seafloor.

This new vibracorer is attached to the NERC's Romotely Operated Vehicle (ROV) ISIS, which is able to precisely located the vibracorer. This would be the first vibracoring system that operate to full ocean depths, and be available for science worldwide. We would like to thank the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI) in helping to design the new ROV-vibracorer

JC128

Refit

NLAMS

Damen Ship Repair in Amsterdam

21

(September 2015)

Refit

During this period the vessel will undertake afloat repairs consisting of an overhaul of the main engine; the renewal of the ‘red deck’ coating and UTs of deck underneath; repairs to deck matrix sockets and science modification carried out as required.

JC130

Carol Cotterill

British Geological Survey

Mid Atlantic Ridge

GBSOU – GBSOU

46

(October 2015)

International Ocean Discovery Program (IODP) Expedition 357 – Atlantis Massif Seafloor Processes: Serpentinisation and Life

IODP Expedition 357 will address two exciting discoveries in mid-ocean ridge research: off-axis, serpentinite-hosted hydrothermal activity, exemplified by the Lost City Hydrothermal Field (LCHF) on the Atlantis Massif oceanic core complex (30°N, Mid-Atlantic Ridge); and the significance of tectono-magmatic processes in forming and exposing heterogeneous mafic and variably serpentinised ultramafic lithosphere that are key components of slow and ultraslow spreading ridges. Serpentinisation is a fundamental process that controls rheology and geophysical properties of the oceanic lithosphere and has major consequences for heat flux, geochemical cycles and microbial activity in a wide variety of environments. However, we currently have no constraints on the nature and distribution of microbial communities in ultramafic subsurface environments. Our proposed drilling focuses on:

  • exploring the extent and activity of the subsurface biosphere in young ultramafic and mafic seafloor;
  • assessing how abiotic and biotic processes change with aging of the lithosphere and with variations in rock type;
  • quantifying the role of serpentinisation in driving hydrothermal systems, and in sustaining microbiological communities, and in the sequestration of carbon in ultramafic rocks; and
  • characterising tectono-magmatic processes that lead to lithospheric heterogeneities and the evolution of hydrothermal activity associated with detachment faulting.

This expedition will utilise seabed rock drill technology (MeBo and BGS Seafloor Rockdrill 2) to core a series of shallow (50-80 mbsf) holes across the Atlantis Massif, where detachment faulting exposes both mafic and ultramafic lithologies on the seafloor. We aim to recover in-situ sequences of sediments, hydrothermal deposits/veins, and basement rocks that comprise a broad zone of detachment faulting across: a spreading-parallel (E-W) profile along the southern wall and at varying distances from the LCHF; and a ridge-parallel (N-S) profile into the center of the massif, where the dominant rock compositions changes from ultramafic to gabbroic. Drilling the E-W profile will allow us to evaluate how microbial communities evolve with variations in hydrothermal activity and with age of emplacement on the seafloor.

We aim to compare microbial activity and diversity in areas of diffuse H2-rich fluid flow and carbonate precipitation with communities in areas away from the active hydrothermal system and with variable substrates and crustal ages. By quantifying the extent and evolution of carbonate precipitation, we will evaluate the potential for natural CO2 sequestration in serpentinising peridotites. Drilling the N-S profile will allow us to evaluate how faulting and lithospheric heterogeneities influence hydrothermal alteration and the nature of the deep biosphere in varying lithologies; and to assess the role of the differing rheologies of gabbros and serpentinised ultramafic rocks in localising detachment faults.

Further information can be found here  and here

JC131

Colin Day

National Oceanography Centre, Southampton

GBSOU – CVMIN

14

(December 2015)

Trials

This is an opportunity to trial equipment prior to JC132.

JC132

Tim Reston

University of Birmingham

Mid Atlantic

CVMIN – TTPOS

41

(January 2016)

Role and Extent of Detachment Faulting at slow-spreading mid-ocean ridge

The objectives of JC132 are to acquire the necessary geophysical data to test the very different, often contrasting, hypotheses for the spatial and temporal evolution of oceanic core complexes (OCCs). These were believed to be the unroofed plutonic and partially serpentinised mantle footwalls of large-offset normal "detachment" faults, structures apparently responsible for accommodating a significant proportion of the plate separation. Following the passive recording of microearthquakes from the active faults using 25 ocean bottom seismographs (OBS) deployed on JC102 and recovered on JC109, the primary objective of JC132 is to collect active source geophysical data (multichannel seismic reflection (MCS) profiles and wide-angle data using OBS) across, between and around oceanic core complexes in the vicinity of 13° 20´N on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. At the same time, high-resolution, near-seabed magnetic and micro-bathymetry imaging will determine spreading history.

It is also hoped that gravity and swath bathymetry data will also be acquired port to port.

Further information can be found here and here and here

JC133

Jenny Collier

Imperial College London

Carribbean

TTPOS – AGSJO

11

(March 2016)

Volatile recycling at the Lesser Antilles Arc: Processes and Consequences

Everyone has probably heard of the water cycle at the Earth’s surface, where the exchange happens between the sea and the atmosphere via evaporation, cloud formation and rain. However there is also a water cycle within the Earth, where the exchange happens between the sea and the solid Earth. The most important step in this lesser-known cycle is when water trapped in the oceanic crust is returned to the deep interior at subduction zones as part of the plate tectonic cycle. As the sinking plate heats up and gets squeezed a large fraction of the incoming water is "sweated off" and added to the overlying mantle where it causes melting. These melts feed volcanoes above which are dangerously explosive. This activity, combined with the earthquakes triggered by the plates scraping past each other and the consequent tsunamis and landslides, makes subduction zones the most hazardous places on Earth. Yet these regions also have benefits: the cocktail of fluids travelling with the melts concentrates valuable metal deposits and the fine ash erupted by the explosive volcanoes produces nutrient-rich, fertile soils.

The aim of the NERC VOILA (Volatile cycling in the Lesser Antilles arc) research programme is to take a holistic approach to the cycling of volatiles (water, along with other volatiles such as carbon dioxide and sulphur) into the deep Earth at the Lesser Antilles subduction zone. Here the North American plate, soaked with water from the Atlantic Ocean subducts beneath the Caribbean plate. The project combines a range of Earth scientists with skills in petrology, geochemistry, numerical modelling as well as marine geophysics to track the passage of the water as it goes into and out of the subduction zone system.

Cruise JC133 contributes to Work Package 2: Water Pathways from the Slab to the Arc of the VOILA programme. We will lay out an array of seismometers on the seabed to record distant earthquakes in order to image the wedge (area between the top of the underlying subducting slab and the seabed). We will use methods similar to medical X-ray imaging to determine the seismic velocity and attenuation structure and hence the pathways of the water and melt. The seismic array will also record local earthquakes from the scraping of the North American and Caribbean plates which will help regional hazard assessment and answer specific questions such as is there a link between the fluid pathways and the pattern of earthquakes?

The VOILA passive array is the largest of its type ever deployed at an Atlantic subduction zone. The instruments will sit on the seabed for about 15 months, when we will return to pick them (and their precious data recordings) up. We will then conduct further geophysical measurements to determine the pattern of water on the incoming plate in order to complete our understanding of this interior water cycle.

Further information can be found here

JC134

Jan-Berend Stuut

Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research

Mediterranean Sea

AGSJO – ESSCT

28

(March 2016)

DUSTTRAFFIC: Transatlantic fluxes of Saharan dust

DUSTTRAFFIC is a project in which we are monitoring and sampling Saharan dust that is being blown from Northwest African sources across the Atlantic Ocean. In particular, we are studying the marine environmental effects of deposition of mineral dust on the ocean surface.

To this end, a Transatlantic array of moorings (N=5) was deployed along the 12th parallel between 23°W (just South of the Cape Verde Islands) and 57°W (just East of Barbados) for the first time in 2012. These stations were re-visited during consecutive cruises in 2013 and 2015.

Each of the moorings contains a set of instruments that are measuring/logging oceanographic properties like Temperature, Salinity, currents, etc., as well as collecting material –both mineral dust as well as plankton remains— settling through the water column. Automated sediment collection is being done using two sediment traps at 1200 and 3500m water depth, at a two-weekly resolution. In addition, two moored surface buoys were added in 2014 to the stations at 38°W and 49°W. With these buoys, Saharan dust is sampled from the atmosphere in sync with the material that is collected from the water column.

During RRS James Cook cruise JC134 - DUSTTRAFFIC IV, five sediment-trap moorings and two dust-collecting buoys will be recovered and two moorings and two buoys will be re-deployed at two positions along the 12th parallel, this time between 23°W and 38°W (East of the Mid Atlantic Ridge). In addition, a third dust-collecting buoy, which is located at 21°N/21°W (off Cape Blanc, Mauritania) will also be recovered, serviced, and re-deployed.

On board, we will collect mineral dust from the atmosphere to be analysed for its mineralogical, chemical, organic geochemical, and physical properties as well as microbiological content. In addition, we will carry out incubation experiments with in-situ collected surface-ocean water with different kinds of Saharan dust. Finally, we will bring different scientific instruments to measure optical- and radiative properties of mineral dust in the atmosphere.

Learn about the research expeditions during 2015–16.

RRS Discovery

Cruise Principal scientist & institution Location Duration in days (begins) Aim
DY029

Alex Poulton

National Oceanography Centre, Southampton

Celtic Sea

GBSOU – GBSOU

29

(April 2015)

Shelf Sea Biogeochemistry

This cruise forms part of the NERC shelf seas biogeochemistry cruise programme, contributing mainly to the pelagic workpackage, Candyfloss, lead by Professor Jonathan Sharples at the University of Liverpool.

It will make observations of biological processes such as phytoplankton production and zooplankton grazing in the shelf seas to discover how they decouple carbon and nitrogen from each other and also measure seasurface carbon dioxide fluxes to discover how they vary spatially, and with other cruises in the programme, seasonally.

Both these activities are part of a wider research effort to understand how the shelf sea carbon pump – the process by which carbon is transferred to the open ocean via the shelf seas, a key term in the global carbon cycle, functions.

Further information can be found here

Cruise blog is here

Facebook page is here

Twitter page is here

DY030

Gary Fones

University of Portsmouth

Celtic Sea

GBSOU – GBSOU

21

(May 2015)

Shelf Sea Biogeochemistry

The aim of the NERC Shelf Sea Biogeochemistry research programme is to take a holistic approach to the cycling of nutrients and carbon, and the controls on primary and secondary production in UK and European Shelf Seas, and to increase understanding of these processes and their role in wider biogeochemical cycles.

Of the four main work packages this cruise will mainly focus on Work Package 2 (Biogeochemistry, macronutrient and carbon cycling in the benthic layer) and Work Package 3 (The Supply of Iron from Shelf Sediments to the Ocean), but with facets of the CANDYFLOSS Pelagic Work package. All Work packages contribute to the overall Integrated modelling effort of Work Package 4.

This mainly benthic focused cruise is the third of four benthic cruises following on from DY008 in Spring 2014 and DY021 in March 2015. DY030 will include the use of a number of benthic lander systems, Autosub 3, gliders, benthic trawl equipment, benthic flumes, CTD water column sampling, Sediment Profile Imaging (SPI) camera and various coring systems.

Further information can be viewed here

Cruise blog can be viewed here

Facebook page can be viewed here

Twitter page can be viewed here

DY031

Penny Holliday

National Oceanography Centre, Southampton

North-East Atlantic

GBSOU – GBLIV

21

(May 2015)

The 2015 annual occupation of the Extended Ellett Line

The Extended Ellett Line is a hydrographic section between Iceland and Scotland that is occupied annually by scientists from the National Oceanography Centre (NOC) and the Scottish Association for Marine Science (SAMS), UK.

The measurement programme began as a seasonally-occupied hydrographic section in the Rockall Trough in 1975, building on early surface observations made underway from ocean weather ships.

In 1996 the section was extended to Iceland, sampling three basins: the Rockall Trough, the Hatton-Rockall Basin and the Iceland Basin. These three basins form the main routes though which warm saline Atlantic water flows northwards into the Nordic Seas and Arctic Ocean. The section crosses the eastern North Atlantic subpolar gyre; as well as the net northward flow there is a large recirculation of the upper layers as part of the wind-driven gyre.

During its passage through the region, the warm saline water is subjected to significant modification by exchange of heat and freshwater with the atmosphere. The two deep basins (Rockall Trough and Iceland Basin) contain southward flowing dense northern overflow waters, and Labrador Sea Water in the intermediate layers.

The specific objectives of the 2015 Extended Ellett Line cruise are:

  • To complete the annual Extended Ellett Line CTD section;
  • To collect water samples for measuring biogeochemical properties including dissolved oxygen, nutrients, carbon and trace metals;
  • To collect underway measurements of surface currents, surface temperature and salinity, bathymetry, surface meteorology;
  • To complete epibenthic sled tows at a deep location in the central Rockall Trough;
  • To launch a seaglider (near Rockall);
  • To recover a FASTNeT mooring.

Further information can be viewed here   

DY032

Richard Lampitt

National Oceanography Centre, Southampton

Northeast Atlantic

GBLIV – GBSOU

18

(June 2015)

Sustained observations of properties and processes at the PAP Observatory

This cruise will service the multi instrumented PAP Sustained Observatory. We will replace, update and enhance the suite of instruments that record and telemeter key physical and biogeochemical properties of the water column all the year round.

In addition we will be collecting water samples at many depths at the Porcupine Abyssal Plain, to benchmark all our instruments and ensure our data is always accurate. We will sample the mesopelagic and the seabed and in cooperation with our colleagues at the NOC and at other leading oceanographic institutions, we will continue to identify and measure fundamental processes that occur in open ocean waters.

This will enhance our understanding of and confidence in connecting the essential biogeochemical cycles of our oceans.

Further information can be viewed here and here

DY033

Mark Moore

National Oceanography Centre, Southampton

Celtic Sea

GBSOU – GBSOU

23

(July 2015)

Shelf Sea Biogeochemistry

The aim of the NERC shelf seas biogeochemistry (SSB) research programme is to take a holistic approach to the cycling of nutrients and carbon, and the controls on primary and secondary production in UK and European Shelf Seas, and to increase understanding of these processes and their role in wider biogeochemical cycles.

This cruise contributes to Work Packages 1 and 3 of the NERC SSB programme, namely the pelagic work package, Candyfloss and the Iron cycling workpackage.

We will make observations of biological processes such as phytoplankton production and zooplankton grazing in the shelf seas to discover how they decouple carbon and nitrogen from each other and also measure sea surface carbon dioxide fluxes to discover how they vary spatially, and in combination with the other cruises in the programme, seasonally. We will also make observations to constrain the cycling of the crucial micronutrient iron both on the shelf and across the shelf break and into the open ocean to the west of the Celtic Sea.

These activities are part of a wider research effort to understand how the shelf sea carbon pump – the process by which carbon is transferred to the open ocean via the shelf seas, a key term in the global carbon cycle, functions in combination with the cycling of major nutrients and iron through the shelf sea system.

Further information can be found here   

Cruise blog can be found here

Twitter page can be viewed here

Facebook page can be found here

DY034

Henry Ruhl

National Oceanography Centre, Southampton

Celtic Sea

GBSOU – GBSOU

27

(August 2015)

Shelf Sea Biogeochemistry

The aim of the NERC Shelf Sea Biogeochemistry research programme is to take a holistic approach to the cycling of nutrients and carbon, and the controls on primary and secondary production in UK and European Shelf Seas, and to increase understanding of these processes and their role in wider biogeochemical cycles.

Of the 4 main work packages this cruise is will mainly focus on Work package 2 (Biogeochemistry, macronutrient and carbon cycling in the benthic layer) and Work package 3 (The Supply of Iron from Shelf Sediments to the Ocean), but with facets of the CANDYFLOSS Pelagic Work package. All Work packages contribute to the overall Integrated modelling effort of Work package 4.

This mainly benthic focused cruise, DY034, will include the use of benthic lander systems, Autosub6000, benthic trawl equipment, benthic flumes, CTD water column sampling, wire deployed sensors and various sediment coring systems.

This cruise is the last of a series four cruses which have used this suite of tools to examine how our shelf seas process carbon at the seafloor, and will be the last of nine UK Shelf Seas programme cruises on NERC vessels. Because it’s the last of the cruises we also expect to recover a substantial amount of automated marine observatory equipment that has been deployed continuously since the first Shelf Sea Biogeochemistry research programme cruise that began in March 2014.

Further information can be found here   

Cruise blog can be found here

Twitter page can be viewed here

Facebook page can be found here

DY036  

Santander, Spain

ESSCT

18

(September 2015)

Refit

During this drydock period, statutory annual/intermediate surveys will be undertaken alongside the following:

  • the servicing of underwater equipment;
  • fuel tank Modifications to give a further 34m3 capacity;
  • main engine overhaul;
  • retractable Azi survey/service;
  • whit Gill Thruster survey/service;
  • crane hydraulic cylinder replacement ×18;
  • improvements to noise and light pollution in accommodation;
  • replacement of SW Chlorination System;
  • hull paint repairs;
  • mods to science equipment as required.
DY038

NERC

London

GBLON

5

(October 2015)

Discovery in London

In October 2015 RRS Discovery will be berthed alongside HMS Belfast in London as the focal point for a series of events to mark the Fiftieth Anniversary of NERC. Centre and HEI staff from across the UK will showcase the achievements of NERC’s research and technology community. A busy programme is in preparation that will enable engagement with a broad range of NERC’s stakeholders, including industry and policy makers, and members of the general public, including students and school groups.

DY039

Darren Rayner

National Oceanography Centre, Southampton

Subtropical North Atlantic

GBSOU – BSNAS

45

(October 2015)

RAPID-AMOC MOC-OBS System and ABC Fluxes Observations

Since April 2004, researchers have developed and maintained an observing system for the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC) at 26.5°N under the Rapid Climate Change programme, the Rapid WATCH programme and now the Rapid AMOC programme.

These programmes investigate how the changes in the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC) will affect us globally.

The overall intention during this expedition is to service the RAPID-MOC 26°N moorings. The MOC is the most important dynamical quantity to determine ocean transports of heat, freshwater, carbon, and other properties, and is central to all considerations of rapid climate change and the role of the thermohaline circulation.

In addition to redeploying the normal array of instruments we shall be adding biogeochemical sensors as part of the ABC Fluxes project, which aims to calculate time series of inorganic carbon and nutrient fluxes in the Atlantic at 26.5°N.

We shall also be deploying a recently developed telemetry system for the transmission of subsea moored instrument data to shore at regular intervals throughout the 18-month deployment period, and servicing the NOG mooring near the mid-Atlantic ridge.

Further information can be viewed here

The RAPID Challenge blog can be viewed here

DY040

Brian King

National Oceanography Centre, Southampton

North Atlantic

USPVS – ESLPA

45

(December 2015)

RAGNARoCC

Cruise DY040 is part of a program of research studying the role of the North Atlantic Ocean in controlling greenhouse gas concentrations. Our project name is RAGNARoCC, and you can find out more by following this link

Oceanographers around the globe measure the amount of dissolved carbon dioxide (CO2) in the ocean, and compare it with the level that would have been there without human contribution from burning fossil fuels. The excess amount is what we call the ‘anthropogenic’ CO2. The North Atlantic has a higher concentration of anthropogenic CO2 than anywhere else in the world, and this expedition is part of a study to explain why that is the case. Importantly, we also want to understand the combined ocean-atmosphere system, so that we can predict future ocean uptake of CO2. The oceans have already absorbed 25% of the CO2 released by human activities. We want to know if that trend will continue. Without it, global warming would be much quicker than it already is, and could accelerate in the future.

Our expedition will travel from the eastern seaboard of the USA, to the African continent, along latitude 24°N. Every 30 miles we will stop and lower sampling equipment from the ocean surface to the seabed. We will measure temperature, concentration of dissolved carbon dioxide, and a raft of other chemical concentrations that will enable us to understand the physical-chemical-biological balance of the ocean. We will measure ocean currents, so we know how much of each chemical is crossing the line into or out of the North Atlantic. We will also know how much heat is being carried by the ocean currents. Ocean currents on this line carry warm water northwards at the surface, with colder water flowing southwards at depth. The exchange of warm water for cooler water acts like a domestic hot water central heating system, but the effective rating of the boiler that warms the North Atlantic is one thousand, million, million Watts. This helps give Northern Europe a more temperate climate than, say Alaska, since the Pacific has no equivalent circulation. We undertook similar measurements on RRS Discovery’s predecessor ship, also named RRS Discovery, in 2010 and 2004. We will look for differences, and find out what they can teach us about long-term changes in climate.

There is a wider context for our measurements. In June and July 2014, we had a similar expedition around the northern perimeter of the Atlantic, from Canada to Greenland to Iceland to Scotland. We will now look at what goes in and out across each line. Of the carbon that crosses our section at 24°N, how much leaves at about 60°N? We have colleagues working out how much enters and leaves through the ocean surface. And other colleagues will work how much is being stored in between our two lines. When we put all our results together we will have a better idea of the workings of a critical part of the earth’s climate system, which will lead to better confidence in predictions of future trends.

The cruise blog can be viewed here

DY065 Repair ESLPA – ESLPA

16

(February 2016)

Repair

It is planned to stop the vessel on completion of science after DY040 to undertake the following:

  • Extension of the scientific winch control cab, this includes the fitting of a new control chair from which all future winch operations will be conducted.
  • Completion of improved sound proofing/habitability to all Officers cabins and scientific berths not achieved during last Septembers docking.
  • Preparations for the installation of an additional fuel oil separator due for delivery in March, this will provide redundancy for a vessel critical system.
  • Strengthening of the deck in way of the vessels fast rescue boat to eliminate flexing of the deck during launch and recovery.
DY066 Winch trials ESLPA – ESLPA

10

(February 2016)

Winch control cab commissioning period

Operate all ship fitted winch systems following the modifications to the main ship fitted winch control cab.

DY067

Autosub Long Range AUV (ALR-1) Trials

ESLPA – GBSOU

16

(March 2016)

Deep dive and communications testing of Autosub ALR-1

Trials of the Autosub Long Range AUV (ALR-1) are required in support of the programme in 2015–2016.

The main aims are:

  1. ALR controlled descent to at least 3700m depth. The main issue is the validation of the ALR flight control, and descent rate while the vehicle buoyancy varies due to the increasing water density as it dives deeper. This will also test the correct functioning of all the vehicle components at this environment. This is so that the navigation accuracy is not too seriously degraded by long periods of the descent being without seabed DVL.
  2. Simultaneously testing the performance of the newly installed acoustic ranging system, to confirm that this system will work adequately at a slant range of up to 6000m.
  3. Test launch and recovery procedures on a research ship (as will be needed for the DynoPoo and FISS deployments).
DY041 Alongside GBSOU – GBSOU

27

(March 2016)

Scientific Verification Period

Discovery arrived into Southampton evening of 15 March. Demobilisation of the Autosub Trials equipment commenced 16 March. Discovery is scheduled to be alongside NOC until 18 April when the ship departs for DY050.

DY050 is part of the Porcupine Abyssal Plain (PAP) program. DY050 supports the sustained observatory at the PAP site and which continues the observations of the oceanography at this location in the subpolar gyre and the processes which occur there. A crucial part of the cruise is to recover the moorings which comprise the observatory and which were deployed in June 2015 and to deploy a new set of moorings.

 

Learn about the research expeditions during 2014–15.

RRS James Cook

Cruise Principal scientist & institution Location Duration in days (begins) Aim
JC098

Rafael Bartolome de la Pena

Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Cientificas

MXZLO – MXZLO

30

(February 2014)

Characterisation of seismic and tsunami hazard associated with the structural contact of plate Rivera-Jalisco Block

The scientific experiment that will take place aboard the RRS James Cook, under a barter agreement between the NERC and the CSIC, between 17 February and 19 March 2014 is located between the Rivera Plate and the Jalisco Block, West Pacific coast of Mexico at the following coordinates 18° 00'N–22° 30'N, 103° 30'W–107° 30'W.

The cruise aims to conduct a detailed marine geophysical study using seismic refraction and reflection methods, along with multibeam mapping and gravity records.

The project aims to determine the lithospheric structure from the seabed into the upper mantle, and identify the sources which can trigger earthquakes and tsunamis on the West coast of Mexico.

The project also seeks to evaluate the potential energy resources of the methane that may exist in the BSR reflectors detected along the continental shelf and slope, using the MCS data recorded during the Spanish CORTES project (1996).

JC099 Passage MXZLO – TTPOS

12

(March 2014)

Passage

The ship will passage from Manzanillo, Mexico via the Panama Canal to Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago to start the next scientific expedition. The ship will pass through the canal on Thursday 27 March.

JC102

Christine Peirce

Durham University

TTPOS – TTPOS

12

(April 2014)

Role and Extent of Detachment Faulting at slow-spreading mid-ocean ridge

The primary objective of this cruise is to install 25 ocean-bottom seismographs (OBS) at the 13° 20´N oceanic core complex on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, to record local passive micro seismicity. These instruments will be recovered during the JC109 cruise, six months after deployment.

It is also hoped that gravity and swath bathymetry data will also be acquired port to port.

The objectives of this Mid Atlantic Ridge cruise are to acquire the necessary geophysical data to test the very different, often contrasting, hypotheses for the spatial and temporal evolution of oceanic core complexes (OCCs). These were believed to be the unroofed plutonic and partially serpentinised mantle footwalls of large-offset normal "detachment" faults, structures apparently responsible for accommodating a significant proportion of the plate separation.

Data will be collected by carrying out the first, combined wide-angle and reflection seismic and micro-seismicity study of, and between, actively forming OCCs, and couple this with high-resolution, near-seabed magnetic and micro-bathymetry imaging to determine spreading history.

JC103

David Smeed

National Oceanography Centre, Southampton

TTPOS – ESSCT

42

(April 2014)

RAPID-WATCH MOC-OBS system

Since April 2004, researchers have developed and maintained an observing system for the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC) at 26.5°N under the Rapid Climate Change programme and now the RAPID-WATCH programme.

These programmes investigate how the changes in the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC) will affect us globally.

The overall intention during this expedition is to service the RAPID-MOC 26°N mooring. The MOC is the most important dynamical quantity to determine ocean transports of heat, freshwater, carbon, and other properties, and is central to all considerations of rapid climate change and the role of the thermohaline circulation.

There are cruise blogs for RAPID and the fieldwork.

JC104 Passage ESSCT – GBSOU

7

(June 2014)

Passage

The vessel will passage from Tenerife to Southampton before commencing the next science cruise.

JC105

Joanne Hopkins

National Oceanography Centre, Liverpool

GBSOU – GBSOU

15

(June 2014)

Shelf Sea Biogeochemistry

JC105 was funded as part of the NERC Shelf Sea Biogeochemistry (SSB) programme. This programme aims to reduce uncertainly in our process understanding of the cycling of nutrients and carbon, and the controls on primary and secondary production in both the UK and European shelf seas, and in wider global biogeochemical cycles.

A series of long-term moorings and gliders were deployed in the Celtic Sea in early 2014 (DY008) and will remain in the water until late summer 2015. They will provide an unprecedented recorded of both physical and biogeochemical measurements across a full seasonal cycle providing the research community with (a) a long term record of the parameters controlling biogeochemical cycling rates and pathways, (b) a background against which to set process studies carried out on subsequent cruises and (b) essential data for model validation and development.

The main objective of JC105 was to service these gliders and moorings. Specifically:

  1. to service eight moorings/landers distributed across five different sites in the Celtic Sea
  2. to recover four gliders (two from the SSB programme and two from NERC's Sensors on Gliders (SoG) programme)
  3. to calibrate both the moorings and gliders

Further information can be viewed here

JC106

Colm O Cofaigh

Durham University

GBSOU – GBSOU

40

(July 2014)

BRITICE-CHRONO - rates and style of ice sheet retreat: collapse, punctuated or steady

Cruise JC106 is part of the research programme BRITICE-CHRONO: constraining rates and style of marine-influenced ice sheet decay”and is the first of two cruises on the RRS James Cook which make up the marine component of this programme.

The first of these cruises will be to the Celtic and Irish seas, the northern approaches to the Barra Fan, and the NW and western Irish shelf. The second cruise will take place in 2015 to the North Sea and northern Britain.

During the cruises geophysical data in the form of multibeam echo sounder and sub-bottom profiler data will be collected and will be used to identify targets for coring. Coring will utilise a British Geological Survey 6m long vibrocorer system and NOC 10m piston corer.

The cruise blog can be viewed here

JC116 Passage GBSOU – ESSDR

3

(August 2014)

Passage

The ship will passage from Southampton to Santander. The vessel is due to dock in Santander on 31 August and will commence a period of 20 days in refit.

JC107 Aitken Hunter ESSDR – ESSDR

30

(August 2014)

Refit

This period has been scheduled to renew the Kongsberg Sonar Array, in addition to focusing on the Starboard frame for the metal free CTD, scientific winch upgrade level winds, overhaul of main engines and the renewal of underwater paint coatings.

JC108 Aitken Hunter ESSDR – GBSOU

15

(September 2014)

Post Refit Trials

The vessel is due to sail on 21 September following twenty days in refit. These trials will provide an opportunity for a post refit shakedown; commission ship fitted instrumentation and computing systems; stream the DW core and trawl to check new scrolling gear; Commission the Lebus MF CTD rope on new sheave arrangements and test PLASMA out-hauler arrangement using 2Te steel weight.

JC109

Christine Peirce

Durham University

GBSOU – TTPOS

25

(October 2014)

Role and Extent of Detachment Faulting at slow-spreading mid-ocean ridge

The primary purpose of this cruise is to recover an array of 25 ocean-bottom seismographs (OBS) which were deployed in April 2014 on JC102. These instruments will then be serviced and prepared for another upcoming cruise on board RRS James Cook in December 2014 (JC112).

JC110 Jason Scott TTPOS – TTPOS

9

(November 2014)

NMF Seismic Trials Cruise

This cruise will trial the seismic systems required for JC114 and train staff in the operational deployment and maintenance of NMFSS seismic systems.

There is also a requirement to test and commission the hired EEL equipment with an EEL representative in attendance.

The intention is also to:

  • carry out multiple deployments of the Bolt airgun beam(s) and Sercel GI gun array for training purposes;
  • carry out deployments of the EEL multichannel seismic streamer at the two different lengths required for JC114 for test purposes and testing of that and the associated recording equipment.
JC111 Passage TTPOS – PABLB

5

(November 2014)

Passage

The ship will transit to Balboa through the Panama Canal PM on Tuesday 2 December.

JC112

Miguel Ángel Morales Maqueda

National Oceanography Centre, Liverpool

PABLB – CRCAL

40

(January 2015)

Oceanographic and Seiemic Characterisation of heat dissipation and alteration by hydrothermal fluids at an Axial Ridge (OSCAR)

The OSCAR programme consists of a two-ship marine geophysical and oceanographic investigation of the hydrothermal fluid flow and plumbing within the oceanic crust at the Costa Rica Rift on the East Pacific Rise, and how this changes as the crust ages and spreads off-axis.

Further information can be viewed here

JC113

Robert Harris

Oregon State University

Panama Basin

CRCAL – PABLB

6

(January 2015)

Oceanographic and Seismic Characterisation of heat dissipation and alteration by hydrothermal fluids at an Axial Ridge (OSCAR)

The objective of this cruise is to obtain a new suite of conductive subseafloor heat flow data to better understand the nature of conductive and convective heat transfer in young sedimented crust of the Panama Basin. This heat flow data, when combined with existing heat flow data will provide a better estimate of total hydrothermal heat loss from the crust in the study region.

Further information can be viewed here

JC114

Richard Hobbs

Durham University

PABLB – CRCAL

45

(January 2015)

Oceanographic and Seismic Characterisation of heat dissipation and alteration by hydrothermal fluids at an Axial Ridge (OSCAR)

This cruise is the second of three cruises which will form part of a combined sampling and survey project (JC112/13, JC114 and SO238) funded under the Oceanographic and Seismic Characterisation of heat dissipation and alteration by hydrothermal fluids at an Axial Ridge (OSCAR) programme.

This cruise will essentially comprise of 3 mooring deployments and recoveries. 12 MT lander deployments, CTDs, VMP and heat flow deployments.

Further information can be viewed here

Learn about the research expeditions during 2014–15.

RRS Discovery

Cruise Principal scientist & institution Location Duration in days (begins) Aim
DY006 Colin Day GBSOU – PTLIS

17

(January 2014)

Ship Fitted Winch Trials

The primary objective of the DY006 trials cruise was to continue the ship fitted winch trials which took place during the DY004 trials.

It was also planned to use the trials passage to deep water to deploy a number of scientific moorings in advance of the DY008 cruise, to attempt to recover the ‘broken away’ PAP mooring buoy which was adrift and to commission and trial a range of NMEP equipment.

Unfortunately, poor weather prevented the deployment or recovery of any of the mooring equipment and the PAP buoy had to be recovered by a charter vessel.

The scientific mooring deployments are now planned to be carried out during further winch trials planned following the refit in Virgo early February.

DY007 Colin Day PTLIS

33

(February 2014)

Refit

RRS Discovery will dry dock in Vigo on 3 February to undertake modifications to the ‘head boxes’ for the vessels main Azimuth thrusters. These modifications will eliminate the cavitation issues noted during the vessels manufacturers sea trials and increase the vessels fuel efficiency, subsequent trials on completion of the refit will measure the effectiveness of these improvements.

The build yard will also be undertaking the rectification of defects and deficiencies as part of the guarantee/warranty arrangements in the build contract.

In addition the final preparations will be undertaken for the vessels first planned science cruise in March.

DY016

Aitkin Hunter

GBHUL – GBSOU

18

(September 2014)

Post refit trials

These trials will provide an opportunity for a post refit shakedown and an opportunity to commission all ship fitted instrumentation and computing systems.

DY007 Colin Day ESVGO – GBSOU

9

(March 2014)

Winch trials

The objective of the DY007 trials cruise is to continue the ship fitted winch trails process following the initial DY004 and DY006 trials.

DY007 will focus on the winches necessary to support the Shelf Sea Biogeochemistry cruise programme.

The winches not trialled on DY007 will be trialled on a further commissioning cruise in June 2014.

The prioritised winches are CTD 1 and 2, MF CTD, and the GP winch.

DY008

Henry Ruhl

National Oceanography Centre, Southampton

GBSOU – GBSOU

10

(March 2014)

Shelf Sea Biogeochemistry (WP2/WP3)

This is the first of five expeditions funded under the Shelf Sea Biogeochemistry research programme on board RRS Discovery.

The programme aims to reduce the uncertainty in our understanding of nutrient and carbon cycling within the shelf seas, and of their overall role in global biogeochemical cycles.

This expedition is part of Work Package 2 (Biogeochemistry, macronutrient and carbon cycling in the benthic layer (BMCC)) and Work Package 3 (The Supply of Iron from Shelf Sediments to the Ocean).

This activity will include the deployment of lander systems, a benthic flume, Autosub6000, trawl systems, CTD rosettes, wire deployed sensors, and coring devices. and here

Further information can be viewed here and  here 

DY020 Richard Stoop GBSOU

21

(May 2014)

Winch remedial work

The overall objective of DY020 is to operate, commission and prove the ship's scientific winch and over side handling systems for delivery of science support. The key activities are to operate and test all the winches (except the MFCTD), as well as all the wires, cables and ropes over all the stern handling systems to evaluate the overall capability using steel weights only at this point.

DY026

Richard Sanders

National Oceanography Centre, Southampton

GBSOU – GBSOU

21

(August 2014)

Shelf Sea Biogeochemistry

The objective of this expedition is to undertake a tidal resuspension study using the marine snowcatchers, deploy and recover CTDs and undergo various sediment coring exercises. This cruise will also provide a training opportunity for a number of students.

Further information about the Shelf Sea Biogeochemistry research programme can be viewed here and  here 

DY022 Passage GBSOU – GBHUL

2

(September 2014)

Passage

The vessel will passage from Southampton to Hull to commence a 14 day refit period.

DY015 Aitkin Hunter GBHUL

14

(September 2014)

Refit

Discovery is undertaking annual renewals of all statutory certification during the repair period in Hull.

Work also being undertaken includes the following:

  • repairs to soft shell plate damage on the stbd side which has caused the bulkhead to trip between cabin 268 and the winch room;
  • fuel monitoring equipment is being fitted to all four main generators that will provide an accurate account of fuel used over any given period;
  • fuel bunker meters are also being fitted to accurately measure fuel delivered to the vessel;
  • additional air cooling unit is also being fitted in the main switchboard to assist in cooling the static frequency converters;
  • both aft knuckle cranes and the gangway crane are having the hydraulic cylinders changed to those of a higher specification to prevent corrosion, current cylinder rams are pitted;
  • the deck head in the thruster room and hydraulic pump space is being insulated, to reduce heat soak from the main working deck;
  • additional cabling is being pulled in to enable better CCTV cameras and additional monitors for observing the scientific winch system, to be fitted at a later date when they become available from our suppliers;
  • Classification Society hull and machinery items are being surveyed as part of the vessels ongoing maintenance program;
  • RR-Odim and Wartsila are attending to investigate guarantee defect items, registered before the end of the vessels guarantee period.

Trials are being conducted en-route to the repair yard for the implementation of a power limiting operating mode.

DY017

Stuart Painter

National Oceanography Centre, Southampton

GBSOU – GBSOU

18

(October 2014)

Shelf Sea Biogeochemistry: Outer Hebrides Process Study

This cruise sampled the Hebridean and Malin shelf areas west of the UK, and parts of the Rockall Trough. The objectives are to map the large scale gradients in nutrients, dissolved iron and dissolved inorganic carbon within the context of studying shelf edge exchange processes with the open ocean.

Data from this cruise will contribute towards the NERC Shelf Sea Biogeochemistry programme.

Further information can be viewed here and  here 

DY018

Jonathan Sharples

National Oceanography Centre, Liverpool

GBSOU – GBSOU

29

(November 2014)

Shelf Sea Biogeochemistry

This cruise is the fourth of a series of dedicated research cruises focused on understanding the seasonal cycle of biological and chemical processing of the different forms of the nutrients and carbon.

We will measure the rates at which both the photosynthetic and consumer plankton incorporate nutrients and carbon into their cellular material, and subsequently how the combined activity of this biological/chemical system influences the cycling of the major elements. This will allow us to understand the ways in which the role of the shelf system in global cycles is maintained.

The cruise blog can be viewed here 

Further information can be viewed here and  here 

DY043 Passage

North Sea

GBSOU – NOAES

3

(December 2014)

Passage

The vessel will dock in Southampton (United Kingdom) to undertake a short demobilisation port call prior to commencement of a passage leg to Alesund (Norway). Upon arrival, all scientific equipment will be lifted off the ship and before departure bunkers will be taken.

DY044 Repair period

Norway

NOAES – NOAES

11

(December 2014)

Repair period

Following DY043, the vessel will spend a period of around eleven days undergoing repairs to replace the traction drums for the GP, trawl and CTD winches. The manufacture and installation of these replacements will occur in Alesund, Norway.

DY045 & DY046 Passage and alongside North Sea

NOAES – GBSOU

20

(December 2014)

Passage and alongside period in Southampton

Following successful completion of the work plan, the Discovery will commence a passage from Alesund, (Norway) to Southampton, (United Kingdom) and spend the festive holiday period alongside before commencing the first in a series of three sea acceptance trials that are required to prove the repairs. This package of trials is scheduled to end in time for mobbing of the next science cruise in the programme (DY021).

DY047, DY048 & DY049

Andy Henson

National Oceanography Centre, Southampton

Iberian Abyssal Plain / Canary Basin

GBSOU – PTFNC

22

(January 2015)

Sea Acceptance Trials (SAT) for the ship fitted winch system

Following the winch repair period in Aalesund, Norway, the RRS Discovery will sail from Southampton on 7 January to commence around 48 days of deep water Sea Acceptance Trials (SAT) for the ship fitted winch system. This trials programme will be split into three legs DY047; DY048 and DY049 and all ship fitted winch wires, cables and ropes will be streamed behind the ship at least once during the trials, with all wires, cables and ropes streamed down to the drum.

DY021

Malcolm Woodward

Plymouth Marine Laboratory

GBSOU – GBSOU

25

(March 2015)

Shelf Sea Biogeochemistry

The aim of the NERC Shelf Sea Biogeochemistry research programme is to take a holistic approach to the cycling of nutrients and carbon, and the controls on primary and secondary production in UK and European Shelf Seas, and to increase understanding of these processes and their role in wider biogeochemical cycles.

Of the four main work packages this cruise is will mainly focus on Work Package 2 (Biogeochemistry, macronutrient and carbon cycling in the benthic layer) and Work Package 3 (The Supply of Iron from Shelf Sediments to the Ocean), but with facets of the CANDYFLOSS Pelagic Work package. All Work packages contribute to the overall Intergrated modelling effort of Work Package 4.

This mainly benthic focused cruise, DY021, will include the use of benthic lander systems, Autosub 6000, benthic trawl equipment, Benthic flumes, CTD water column sampling, wire deployed sensors and various Coring systems..

This cruise is essentially a repeat of DY008 in 2014, which was the first of the UK Shelf Seas programme cruises.

Further information about the Shelf Sea Biogeochemistry research programme can be viewed here and  here 

 

Learn about the research expeditions during 2013.

RRS James Cook

Cruise Principal scientist & institution Location Duration in days (begins) Aim
JC082

Jonathan Copley

National Oceanography Centre

Mid-Cayman Rise

19

(February 2013)

Hydrothermal activity and deep-ocean biology of the Mid-Cayman Rise

Exploration of ecosystems to discover novel biodiversity, increase knowledge of how ocean circulation influences ecosystems and determine how the properties of the Earth's interior influence its surface environment.

JC083

Peter Talling

National Oceanography Centre, Southampton

en route to Cayman Trough

11

(February 2013)

Building and testing a new tool for precisely located coring and coring of sandy substrate in water depths of up to 6,000m

The project will make a vibrocorer that is attached to the ISIS ROV. The cruise will aim to operationally test the vibrocorer on ISIS in a range of water depths.

JC085

Richard Lampitt

National Oceanography Centre, Southampton

Porcupine Abyssal Plain, North Atlantic

15

(April 2013)

EuroBASIN programme and OSMOSIS project support

EuroBASIN - Investigating the rate that sinking organic matter is absorbed and how this relates to plankton community structure and the process that control it.

OSMOSIS - The recovery and re-deployment of gliders, calibratation of both the gliders being recovered and those being deployed.

JC086

Colin Griffiths

Scottish Association for Marine Science

North East Atlantic

20

(May 2013)

Extended Ellett Line

To create a time series of the evolution water flow of the Northeast Atlantic. It involves taking full depth hydrographic measurements between Scotland, Rockall and Iceland. It is designed to capture the warm saline inflow into the subpolar gyre and the Nordic Seas, and the path of the deep returning flow in the lower branch of the meridional overturning circulation.

JC087

Richard Lampitt

National Oceanography Centre, Southampton

Porcupine Abyssal Plain, North Atlantic

18

(May 2013)

EuroBASIN programme

Following on from JC085 this combined EuroBASIN and OSMOSIS cruise will be studying marine snow and how it links to the climate, and the processes of mixing in the upper Ocean using gliders.

Find out more at the expedition blog - Down to the twilight zone page

JC088

Mark Inall

Scottish Marine Institute

Central North Sea

26

(June 2013)

Ocean Shelf Exchange – FASTNEt

Furthering the Fluxes Across Sloping Topography of the North East Atlantic project. This physical oceaongraphy cruise will be using gliders, moorings and drifters to study the exchange of nutrients and carbon between oceanic and shelf waters.

JC089

David Hodell

University of Cambridge

Southwest Iberian Margin

25

(August 2013)

Survey of the "Shackleton sites" on the Southwest Iberian Margin

A survey using high-resolution seismic reflection profiles and swath bathymetry to map the terrain. Collect water samples to characterise the physical and chemical properties of the water. Acquire sediment cores to study sediment processes. Analyse piston, gravity and multicores for pore water chemistry at various intervals of the core. Study the distribution and shell geochemistry of living benthic foraminiferal species within the core.

JC090

Alberto Naveira Garabato

National Oceanography Centre, Southampton

Porcupine Abyssal Plain, North Atlantic

17

(August 2013)

Ocean Surface Mixing, Ocean Sub-mesoscale Interaction Study

This cruise will be supporting the OSMOSIS project, which aims to understand the physical processes that control the depth and other aspects ocean surface boundary layer and upper thermocline. It also seeks to develop and define the parameters of some of those processes so they can be included in accurate climate-scale ocean models.

JC090 objective is to recover the OSMOSIS Mooring Array in its entirety, nine subsurface full instrumentation moorings and four surface expression guard moorings.

JC094

Laura Robinson

Bristol University

Equatorial Atlantic

48

(October 2013)

Ocean Chemistry: past and present

Mapping deep water coral habitats and reconstruction of their population history through dating work. Geochemical proxy calibrations pairing seawater with modern corals and core top sediments. Reconstruction of the history of Antarctic intermediate and bottom waters, and of North Atlantic deep water either side of the mid Atlantic Ridge.

Ted talk (Technology, Entertainment and Design) can be viewed here

JC097

Mark Trimmer

University of London

Eastern Tropical North Pacific

44

(December 2013)

Nitrous oxide and nitrogen gas production in oxygen minimum zones: a process and community based study

In this project we aim to link Nitrogen cycling to bacterial gene diversity. Firstly by characterisation of the water column (for example, Nitrous oxide profiles) and then experimental manipulations to test if the ratio of nitrogen to nitrous oxide production is fixed or flexible.

Learn about the research expeditions during 2013.

RRS Discovery

Cruise Principal scientist & institution Location Duration in days (begins) Aim
Delivery of the NERC vessel   National Oceanography Centre, Southampton July 2013

Delivery of the RRS Discovery to NERC

RRS Discovery was delivered to NERC on the 8 July 2013 by builders CNP Freire, SA from Vigo.

The RRS Discovery comes with sub-bottom profiling and multi-beam equipment for mapping the seabed, while her dynamic positioning capability means Remotely Operated Vehicles such as Isis can be used. Her wide range of cranes and overside gantries, with associated winches and wires, will allow many different types of equipment to be deployed from the ship. These facilities and the many more listed below help support the UK marine science community as it undertakes research of national and global importance.

Further information can be viewed here

DY001 Master Atlantic

22

(July 2013)

Marine Familiarisation and Training Trials

This is the first marine familiarisation and training trials cruise in preparation for winch trials.

DY004 Colin Day Atlantic

11

(September 2013)

Deep Water Sea Acceptance Trials for the Ship Fitted Winch Systems

Representatives from Freire ship yard, ODIM, RRS Discovery project team and NMFSS marine engineering/technical teams conducted the first part of the deep water sea acceptance trials for the ship fitted winch systems.

All ship fitted winch wires, cables and ropes were streamed down to the drum behind the ship; deloyed vertically with various steel weights to defined deployment plans, with specific winches being further trialled with instruments or sea bed sampling devices.

Naming Ceremony   National Oceanography Centre, Southampton

2

(October 2013)

Naming Ceremony

The ship was named by Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal at the National Oceanography Centre in Southampton on Thursday 10 October.

Around 200 guests, including the Science Minister David Willetts, local MPs, civic guests and senior figures from the UK’s marine science community were present to see a bottle of champagne smashed in the traditional manner on the vessel’s bow. The Honorary Assistant Bishop of Winchester, the Right Reverend John Dennis, blessed Discovery.

For further information can be viewed here

DY003 Gareth Knight West of Ireland in international waters and SW approaches

17

(October 2013)

Hydrographic Familiarisation and shakedown Trials Cruise

pThis was a successful trials cruise combining training with the sea acceptance testing of Kongsberg hydrograpic equipment and familiarisation with the vessel.

A calibration of Sonardyne USBL system was also undertaken with deployment and recovery of a tracking beacon.

Learn about the research expeditions during 2011–12.

RRS James Cook

Cruise Principal scientist & institution Location Duration in days (begins) Aim
JC067

Jonathan Copley

National Oceanography Centre, Southampton

South West Indian Ridge, Indian Ocean

40

(November 2011)

Biogeography and ecology of the first known deep-sea hydrothermal vent site on the ultraslow-spreading Southwest Indian Ridge

This cruise aims to complete the first ROV dives at a deep-sea hydrothermal vent field on the Southwest Indian Ridge (SWIR). The information from these dives will help to test key theories relating to the global biogeography and ecology of chemosynthetic ecosystems. It is hoped to both conduct video surveys and to collect a number of samples from these dives.

JC068

Gideon Henderson

Oxford University

South Atlantic

34

(December 2011)

UK-GEOTRACES

This project is looking to answer three questions: how are micronutrients supplied to support the productivity in a specific ocean floor basin in this region, and how does this supply influence the nature of the ecosystem across the basin? Which processes control the concentration and distribution of micronutrients in deep waters in the South Atlantic, and how do these get to the surface systems? Finally, what are the changes of micronutrients in the global ocean, and what are the key processes that control these levels?

JC069

Alberto Naveira Garabato

National Oceanography Centre, Southampton

Southern Ocean / Scotia Sea

51

(January 2012)

UKD-3: DIMES

This expedition forms the third leg of the UK DIMES project. The project aims to complete a CTD survey, recover six moorings at the blue star in Drake Passage and recover five sound sources en route.

JC071

Henry Ruhl

National Oceanography Centre, Southampton

Porcupine Abyssal Plain, North Atlantic

13

(April 2012)

Porcupine Abyssal Plain - Sustained Observatory

This cruise will conduct maintenance on the Porcupine Abyssal Plain - Sustained Observatory. Use will be made of the PAP3 sediment trap mooring and the bathysnap camera system. A replacement ODAS buoy will be brought to the site and the existing buoy will be returned to shore.

JC073

John Roberts

Heriot-Watt University

North East Atlantic

29

(May 2012)

Impacts of ocean acidification on key benthic ecosystems, communities, habitats, species and life cycles

This expedition will look at the impacts of ocean acidification on key benthic ecosystems, communities, habitats, species and life cycles. An ROV will be used to survey, sample and experiment within cold-water coral habitats at two contrasting areas where it is predicted there will be differences in aragonite saturation state within the coming century. This cruise is linked to the European EPOCA (ocean acidification) and HERMIONE (deep-sea ecology and anthropogenic impact) projects.

JC077

Ian Wright

National Oceanography Centre, Southampton

Central North Sea

24

(September 2012)

Environmental monitoring studies of the Sleipner Carbon Capture Storage Site

This cruise will investigate the carbon capture storage at the Sleipner Site in the North Sea. The project is to assess the marine environmental risks associated with sub-bed CO2 storage. Little is known about the short-term and long-term impacts of CO2 storage on marine ecosystems even though CO2 has been stored in the North Sea (Sleipner) for over 13 years with injection of over 12 million tonnes of CO2 some 800-1000m beneath the seafloor. The team will be examining the Sleipner Site to establish the effects of possible leakage, and develop novel monitoring techniques will be applied to detect and quantify the fluxes of formation fluids, natural gas, and CO2 from storage sites.

JC079

Andy Rees

Plymouth Marine Laboratory

Atlantic Ocean - UK to Falklands/South America

45

(October 2012)

Atlantic Meridional Transect - AMT22

This sustained observing system aims to provide basin-scale understanding of the distribution of planktonic communities. Dissolved organic matter (DOM) is an important sink of organic carbon in pelagic ecosystems but remains poorly studied in oceanic environments. AMT enables the measurement of plankton community structure, over large spatial scales and seasonal, interannual and decadal time scales, to better define natural variability and long term trends.

JC080

Paul Tyler

National Oceanography Centre, Southampton

East Scotia Ridge, South Sandwich Islands

34

(December 2012)

Chemosynthetic ecosystems south of the Polar Front: Ecology and biogeography

A varied combination of observations, sampling and analyses at each site encountered, with a common priority to complete a thorough mapping and photographic (video and stills photography, and mosaicking) documentation of each site.

Find out more by following this link

Learn about the research expeditions during 2011–12.

RRS Discovery

Cruise Principal scientist & institution Location Duration in days (begins) Aim
D374

Jonathan Copley

University of Southampton

Cayman Trough, Caribbean

3

(March 2012)

Recovery of moorings deployed on the Mid-Cayman Rise by JC044

This cruise will be recovering deep-water moorings that were deployed on the Mid-Cayman Rise during a previous cruise on the James Cook in April 2010. The moorings will be inspected and have their batteries replaced so they will continue to record data.

D376

Colin Griffiths

Scottish Association for Marine Science

Celtic Sea

23

(June 2012)

Ocean Shelf Exchange - FASTNET

This forms part of the Ocean Shelf Exchange – FASTNET programme, which aims to construct a new view on ocean/ continental shelf exchange. Using new observations and model techniques, the team will look at the key seasonal, interannual and regional variation information missing from current knowledge.

Standard oceanographic moorings will be paired with 60 satellite tracked drifters and a fleet of eight Gliders patrolling the shelf break from west of the Isles of Scilly to north Scotland.

D377

Henry Ruhl

National Oceanography Centre, Southampton

Porcupine Abyssal Plain, North Atlantic

14

(July 2012)

Autonomous Ecological Surveying of the Abyss (AESA): Understanding Mesoscale Spatial Heterogeneity in the Deep Sea

Using Autosub and Benthic trawling, the team aims to look at a possible link between the sea floor features and the related disbursement of marine life at depths of up to 100km. The information gained form this study will provide information as to how surface climate change activity impacts life in the deep oceans.

Find out more here

D378

Henry Ruhl

National Oceanography Centre, Southampton

Porcupine Abyssal Plain, North Atlantic

7

(July 2012)

Autonomous Ecological Surveying of the Abyss

This cruise adds time to the above cruise and aims to look at the same objectives over a larger scale.

D381

Alberto Naveira Garabato

National Oceanography Centre, Southampton

Porcupine Abyssal Plain, North Atlantic

32

(September 2012)

Ocean Surface Mixing, Ocean Sub-mesoscale Interaction Study

This cruise will be supporting the OSMOSIS project, which aims to understand the physical processes that control the depth and other aspects ocean surface boundary layer and upper thermocline. It also seeks to develop and define the parameters of some of those processes so they can be included in accurate climate-scale ocean models.

D382

Stuart Cunningham

National Oceanography Centre, Southampton

Sub tropical North Atlantic

35

(October 2012)

Monitoring the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation at 26.5°N

This cruise forms part of the ongoing RAPID-WATCH programme. This visit will monitor the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC), which is a major part of Earth's climate system. It has specific effects on the UK, and is responsible for increasing UK air temperatures to 5-10°C warmer than would be expected for the UK’s position on the globe. Information from these moorings is fed into climate change research and potentially influences national and international government policy.