29th May 2017

We’re getting closer to our scientific cruise! We’ll be flying out of the UK (and other countries!) in just over a month’s time, to St Johns in Canada, where we will meet the RRS Discovery and head off on cruise number DY081.

The Discovery, however, is about to start its own journey in just a few days, heading off from Southampton on another scientific project, before our rendez-vous in Canada. This means that we have to get as much packed and on to the ship as we possibly can!

We have been busy buying all the bits and pieces that you need at sea, from sample bottles and spectrophotometers, all the way through to mops and buckets.

Kate and Hong Chin buying a mop and a bucket for DY081!

Then it’s a matter of getting everything in boxes. How much stuff do we really need to take?!

Steph, and all the boxes!

Welcome to ICY-LAB!

Isotope CYcling in the LABrador Sea!

This page is under construction, but will be all about Project ICY-LAB!

The high-latitude regions are experiencing some of the most rapid changes observed in recent decades: polar temperatures are rising twice as fast as the global mean and there are concerns about the impact of sea-ice and glacier retreat on global oceans and climate. The high-latitude North Atlantic is also a key region for ecologically and economically important natural resources such as fisheries. How these resources will change in the future depends strongly on the response of marine biogeochemical cycling of essential nutrients to increasing anthropogenic stress.


Diatoms are photosynthetic algae that are responsible for nearly half of the export of carbon from the sea surface to the seafloor, and they are a sensitive indication of the state of nutrient cycling. Diatoms are one of many organisms that precipitate biogenic opal, an amorphous glass made of silica (hydrated SiO2), to form protective skeletons, and one of the essential nutrients is therefore dissolved silicon (Si) in the form of silicic acid. The response of the silicon cycle to changing environmental conditions is critical for both carbon and nutrient cycling and it can now be addressed through high precision silicon isotopes, which is the focus of ICY-LAB.


The approach will be to capture the whole silicon cycle system in areas of marked environmental change using careful field sampling strategies – with research expeditions to coastal Greenland and the open ocean Labrador Sea – coupled with cutting-edge analytical methods. The results will lead to an unprecedented and cross-disciplinary view of nutrient cycling, biomineralisation, and the taxonomy and biogeography of siliceous organisms in an ecologically important region of the North Atlantic.