Heather Bouman investigates the diversity and physiology of marine cyanobacteria and microalgae over a range of marine ecosystems, from the poles to the tropics.
Due to their planktonic mode of life, the marine microflora can be considered a sentinel of environmental change. Her research explores the utility of marine bio-optics as a tool for monitoring their taxonomic structure and biogeochemical function. The overarching goal of her work is to develop new insights using both ship-based and remotely-sensed observations of the ocean’s biological carbon cycle.
Her most recent field-based research aims to identify the key environmental drivers controlling the seasonal dynamics of Arctic and Southern Ocean marine ecosystems. She leads the Primary Production Work Package of the Arctic PRIZE project funded under the NERC Changing Arctic Ocean programme, which examines the photosynthetic response of Arctic phytoplankton communities in order to understand the ecological consequences of Arctic sea-ice loss.
As part of the Carbon Uptake and Seasonal Traits in Antarctic Remineralisation Depth (CUSTARD) project, she is also examining how seasonal changes in phytoplankton species composition and productivity impact the biological pump in the Southern Ocean.
She is a co-investigator in European Space Agency projects to improve the parameterisation of phytoplankton photosynthesis in satellite models of marine primary production (Marine Primary Production Parameters from Space) and to develop a deeper understanding of the role of the ocean’s biota in the global carbon cycle using satellites - Biological Pump and Carbon Exchange Processes (BICEP).