Lift off! NASA takes flight over St. John's for climate change research
Researches looking at how phytoplankton relates to climate change
A team from NASA has landed in St. John's and is setting up shop, for a five-year research project on climate change.
The group of 20 is trying to understand how underwater plankton are connected to the clouds above, and how those two things relate to climate change and warming oceans.
There are just two Canadians onboard — Dalhousie University ocean researcher Susanne Craig and atmosphere researcher Mark Gibson.
The two are also husband and wife.
Senior research scientist, Chris Hostetler, calls NAAMES — North Atlantic Aerosol and Marine Ecosystems — a unique, cross-disciplinary mission, between oceans and atmospheres.
"We're trying to understand the mechanisms that control the phytoplankton bloom in the North Atlantic," Hostetler said. "This is one of the strongest phytoplankton blooms in all of the global oceans."
Phytoplankton are plants that absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, and are an important part of the food chain.
Researchers are also looking at the degree to which the ocean eco-system influences the amount and properties of aerosol partials, such as sea spray or pollution.
The team plans on taking atmospheric measurements at the same time as samples are taken from the ocean.
The first of two-dozen flights over the next five years takes off Thursday.