Prof Gideon Henderson, Director of the 21st Century Ocean Institute, has won a Royal Society Theo Murphy Blue Skies Award to help understand ocean flows at the sea floor. This new award scheme provides funding for novel and groundbreaking research which is original and exciting, but where there may be a lack of a sufficient evidence base for the projects to be supported by traditional grant schemes.
Like other fluids, the oceans have boundary layers where flow behaves differently. These play a crucial role in the circulation and chemistry of seawater. The boundary layer at the surface of the ocean is easy to access, but the bottom boundary layer is much harder. It is only ten meters or so thick, but is kilometers below the surface, making it tricky to investigate with anything lowered from a ship.
Henderson plans to use the award of £44,800 to build, test and deploy equipment to land on the sea-floor and collect measurements and samples spanning the bottom boundary layer. The initial scientific goal of the work is to assess the supply of the critical nutrient, iron, from marine sediments into the oceans - work that will be conducted on a research cruise to the South Atlantic led by Henderson during 2010.