Ocean scientist Phoebe Lam leads Pacific Ocean research cruise

Physical and Biological Sciences News

The 277-foot R/V Roger Revelle is the home, laboratory, and transportation for the 59 scientists and crew studying ocean chemistry between Alaska and Tahiti. Here the Revelle sits in port at Smith Cove in Seattle, Washington, during preparations for more than two months at sea. (Photo by Alex Fox)Ocean scientist Phoebe Lam is one of three chief scientists on the U.S. GEOTRACES GP15 cruise.Many trace elements, such as iron, are critical for marine life and influence the functioning of ocean ecosystems and the global carbon cycle. Some trace elements (mercury, for example) are also of concern as contaminants, while others, together with a diverse array of isotopes, are used by scientists to study ocean processes and the role of the ocean in climate change.
An international program called GEOTRACES aims to improve the understanding of trace elements and their isotopes in the marine environment, including their large-scale distribution and how they cycle through biological, geological, and chemical processes.
Phoebe Lam, associate professor of ocean sciences at UC Santa Cruz, is a chief scientist on the U.S. GEOTRACES GP15 cruise, which will be studying the Pacific Ocean along a line of longitude (152° W) from Alaska to Tahiti from September 18 to November 24. This is the fourth U.S. GEOTRACES cruise, and Lam’s lab has been involved in all of them. This time, she is participating both as a chief scientist helping to coordinate the whole operation and as a principal investigator overseeing her lab’s research project.
“The GEOTRACES cruises have really revolutionized our understanding of trace elements,” she said. “It’s a huge operation. I’m one of three cruise leaders, and there are over 26 research groups to coordinate.”
Joining the scientists and crew as the shipboard science communicator will be Alex Fox, who graduated in June from the UC Santa Cruz Science Communication Program. Fox will be writing blog …

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