Getting to the bottom of how oceans breathe

UAlberta researcher receives $5M to study how carbon dioxide moves from the surface to the floor of the Labrador Sea.

By Brian Murphy on May 17, 2013

(Edmonton) A University of Alberta researcher’s study of deep ocean exchanges of carbon dioxide will receive close to $5 million over five years from the federal government.

Paul Myers, a professor in the Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, received the award from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada for his climate-change study proposal titled “Ventilation, Interactions and Transports Across the Labrador Sea.”

He says he chose the Labrador Sea because it’s vital to understand more about the deepwater processes close to Canadian shores.

“It’s one of few deepwater bodies in the world where there is exchange from the surface all the way down to the deep layers of ocean,” said Myers.


View Larger Map

Advanced technology for in-depth research

The study will see the development of technologies including new ocean bottom-to-surface transportation equipment manufactured by Rolls-Royce. “The equipment will carry monitoring equipment to the full depth of the Labrador Sea and back to the surface,” said Myers.

He says researchers plan to install moorings far out in the Labrador Sea to support monitoring equipment that will collect data at various depths between the ocean floor and the surface.

The research provides opportunities for Canadian-made technology.

“Canadian physical and biogeochemical sensors will provide a high-visibility showcase of advanced ocean technology,” said Myers. “This will enhance technology transfer to Canadian companies and give international visibility for unique Canadian products.”

Myers says without the federal funding, it wouldn’t be possible to take on a deepwater research project of this scope.

“It’s also an opportunity for U of A students and post-docs to get experience in deepwater research—and they’re the next generation of marine and climate scientists.”

Myers says the researchers will be out on the water this summer and should have the new equipment in place a year from now.