Diário de Bordo de Mara Gomes embarcada no RV Polarstern

Aboard the Polarstern, a German research vessel, Mara Gomes, doing a Master in Marine Sciences and MARE PiscisMod project fellow, describes her experience as a researcher and even as a teacher.

“During July the German research vessel Polarstern sailed in the Atlantic, departing in the winter of the Falkland Islands towards the summer of Bremerhaven. The expedition aimed to acquire atmospheric and oceanic data to monitor geophysical parameters in the context of climate change. In addition to scientists from various international research centers, the expedition also included students from the Marine Science Partnership for Observation of the Global Oceans (POGO) in developing countries who were given the opportunity to actively participate in the study of the oceans. The modules taught in this sailing school were oceanography, climate, microorganisms, remote sensing and technology and the dissemination of scientific information.

The possibility to participate in this expedition comes from the PORTWIMS project (Portugal Twinning for Innovation and Excellence in Marine Sciences and Earth Observation), particularly due to the collaboration between MARE and the AWI (Alfred Wegener Institute), with the purpose of providing the transfer between institutes, by funding the participation of researchers in expeditions and courses.

Aboard the Polarstern I was responsible for the phytoplankton submodule, inserted in the microorganisms module, which is my area of ​​interest and study at MARE. In this context, I have lectured on phytoplankton dynamics in the Atlantic and on methodologies currently used for this purpose. In addition to the theoretical aspect, I supervised and guided POGO students in data acquisition and sample processing in the laboratory. Throughout the transect, data were acquired for photosynthetic pigment analysis and diversity of phytoplankton species. Additionally, optical data were obtained to extract information on the abundance and composition of phytoplankton communities. These data are intended for the development and validation of chlorophyll concentration determination algorithms from satellite data. In addition, all the information obtained throughout the expedition makes it possible to characterize the Atlantic in terms of phytoplankton dynamics by integrating abiotic factor data also collected from other modules.

My participation in this expedition resulted in immense personal and professional enrichment. It is an exceptional opportunity to take part in an expedition of this size, where different areas of the sea and atmosphere sciences are integrated, and scientists from around the world come together for the same cause. The experience of teaching undoubtedly made me learn more. It inevitably opened me horizons, motivating me to soon be able to return to the second lung of our planet, the ocean.”

Mara Gomes