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Physical and biogeochemical controls on the marine primary productivity of the Galápagos Archipelago

Project Description

Project Rationale:
The waters surrounding the Galápagos Archipelago (GA) are an iconic biological hot spot. The region features an exceptionally productive and distinctive ecosystem, that is sustained by upwelling events – upward surges of deep, cold, nutrient-rich waters (known as the GA upwelling plume) that fuel the growth of the phytoplankton biomass upon which, the entire ecosystem thrives. A foremost challenge in sustainably managing the extraordinary natural resources of GA waters is the acute episodicity and climate sensitivity of upwelling events. Variations in the frequency and intensity of upwelling events have in the past brought about abrupt (and sometimes irreversible) perturbations in the region’s ecosystem state. Worryingly, projections of 21st-century climate change single out the GA region as one the areas on Earth where the frequency and severity of climate extremes will increase the most.

This project will assess the resilience of the GA upwelling plume’s ecosystem to climate change by (i) determining the key physical and biogeochemical controls of marine primary productivity in the region; and (ii) assessing the most likely evolution of those controls over the next 50 years. The project’s findings will be used to future-proof strategies to manage the GA ecosystem’s health against the mounting pressures of climate change.

Funding Notes

You can apply for fully-funded studentships (stipend and fees) from INSPIRE if you:
Are a UK or EU national.
Have no restrictions on how long you can stay in the UK.
Have been 'ordinarily resident' in the UK for 3 years prior to the start of the project.

Please click View Website for more information on eligibilty and how to apply


D. M. Palacios, ‘Factors influencing the island-mass effect of the Galápagos Archipelago’, Geophys. Res. Lett., vol. 29, no. 23, p. 2134, Dec. 2002.

J. T. Pennington, K. L. Mahoney, V. S. Kuwahara, D. D. Kolber, R. Calienes, and F. P. Chavez, ‘Primary production in the eastern tropical Pacific: A review’, Progress in Oceanography, vol. 69, no. 2, pp. 285–317, May 2006.

K. B. Karnauskas, R. Murtugudde, and A. J. Busalacchi, ‘The effect of the Galápagos islands on ENSO in forced ocean and hybrid coupled models’, J. Phys. Oceanogr., vol. 38, no. 11, pp. 2519–2534, Nov. 2008.

How good is research at University of Southampton in Earth Systems and Environmental Sciences?

FTE Category A staff submitted: 68.62

Research output data provided by the Research Excellence Framework (REF)

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