The colour and transparency of the ocean can be used to provide a unique insight into the way that materials are distributed in seawater, as well as telling us about how the processes controlling these distributions operate. Our main focus at Bangor is on the particle-laden waters in shelf seas and estuaries. Satellite images of these waters reveal the distribution of sediments suspended near the sea surface. The patterns seen from space are different to those predicted, in the past, by models and so we have learned how to incorporate new process in models to simulate suspended sediments more faithfully. To gain better quantitative interpretation of satellite data, we have worked on the interaction of light with particles, especially how the aggregation of particles into flocs affects their optical properties. This has led to more direct work on the physics of aggregation and how this depends on turbulence. In collaboration with Plymouth University, we have tested holographic cameras to image particles suspended in seawater.
Often, we work at sea with groups from other universities - we have had fruitful collaborations with Plymouth and Strathclyde universities - and scientists from other disciplines, including biology and geology. Not all of our work is in European seas - recent publications have reported results from Malaysia and Mozambique. Other subjects of interest include the effect of the range and phase of the tide on the light reaching benthic algae and the optical properties and behavior of coloured dissolved organic matter (CDOM) in seawater. CDOM can be used as a tracer for freshwater as it mixes with seawater in the coastal ocean and this has led to recent work on tracing the fate of fresh water. The reverse process - the intrusion of salt water into rivers used for drinking water supply is currently a global health problem. In a recent development we have been collaborating with medical scientists at Imperial College in London to test the use of remote sensing for identifying salt water contamination of drinking water.
Recent Research Grants
2013-2015 dstl 'A study of the main processes governing remotely sensed surface turbidity in U.K. and Atlantic French waters' [with Francis Gohin at IFREMER, France] funds PhD studentship plus associated research costs
2010-2013 NERC 'Measurement of the abundance and optical significance of sub-micron sized particles in the ocean' [with Colin Jago and Plymouth and Strathclyde Universities]. Total value £1.05M, value to Bangor £490k
2010-2013 Carbon Trust 'Algal biomass production and processing' £154k FEC [with Peter Williams and the late Gareth Edwards-Jones]
2007-2010 NERC 'Marine particle sizes and turbulence' £431,710 FEC [with Colin Jago and John Simpson at Bangor and Alex Nimmo-Smith at Plymouth University]
2007-2012 Nuffield Commonwealth Foundation £250,000 for 'Developing Marine Science in Mozambique' [with Lewis Levay and partners in Mozambique].