February at the mesocosms, I can see Blackpool tower to my left and the Lake District to my right and just behind me the big wind turbine is whooshing around threatening to take off. I am convinced that is how it will all end, diced up by a giant rolling wind turbine blade tending to my plankton. If I close my eyes, which is very tempting as what feels like hypothermia sets in, I can convince myself quite easily that I am in the arctic circle. Don't be fooled by the laughing face, thats my reaction to Heidrun wanting to get one more shot of me putting the algae torch in the water - if you don't laugh you'll cry (or is it die?). I'm actually laughing because its my birthday and in about 2 minutes time I am about to go and eat a lot of cake.
The photo shoot is for a piece on the freshwater blog about the MARS Lake experiments. There are two other MARS Lake mesocosm experiments, the rather impressive lake lab in Lake Stechlin, Germany and another in Denmark led by Eric Jeppesen. All of the lake experiments will be investigating the response of the aquatic systems (phytoplankton, zooplankton and fish) to multiple stressors. Lancaster will be looking at the effects of warming (+4°C), excess nutrients and extreme flushing events (one every 12 weeks), Denmark the effect of extreme heatwaves and excess nutrients and Germany the effects of extreme mixing and nutrients.
I think the last picture of me on the blog captures the feeling of mild exasperation that I am standing outside on the top of a windy hill wearing frozen rubber gloves and an outfit more fitting for a fisherman battling the wild seas.
I have managed to turn my rather unhealthy obsession with plankton in to my day job. Things don't get much better than this! This blog documents my PhD research and the plankton delights I encounter along the way.