Understanding the plankton’s strategy to survive



The Southern Ocean plays a key role in regulating global climate as it contains regions where deep, carbon dioxide-rich water comes to the surface and communicates with the atmosphere. Southern Ocean surface waters are also perennially anaemic (iron impoverished), and as a result plankton growth is stifled. In this project we hope to understand the strategies that plankton use to survive in this harsh environment.

We will do this through a combination of field experiments and shore-based analysis of samples collected from this region. The results from this research program will help us develop a greater understanding of the adaptability of Southern Ocean plankton, which will hopefully feed into public policy on the role that the Southern Ocean plays in moderating climate.


Principal Investigator (PI)

Michael Ellwood

Research School of Earth Sciences Australian National University, Australia


Linking marine primary production to the cycling of dissolved organic compounds and trace elements in Southern Ocean waters.

Principal institution / country

  • University of Bern (Switzerland)
  • University of Geneva (Switzerland)
  • ETH (Switzerland)
  • University of Canberra (Australia)
  • CNRS (France)
  • University of Otago (New Zealand)
  • University of British Columbia (Canada)
  • AWI (Germany)