Zooplankton defecation rates in the water column

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    The COMICS (Controls over Ocean Mesopelagic Interior Carbon Storage) project consists of observations, at sea, of particle flux and stable isotopes. It applies organic geochemical and molecular biological techniques to samples collected using nets and traps. The study areas are the tropical Atlantic and Southern Oceans. The results will be combined with models to quantify the flow of carbon in the ocean’s ‘twilight’ zone in order to accurately model global climate change. This ‘twilight’ zone is the part of the ocean between 100m and 1000m below the sea surface, where only a small amount of light from the sun can still penetrate. By investigating carbon dynamics in the ocean interior, COMICS will help to improve predictions of future global climate change. The COMICS project is led by the National Oceanography Centre and is a collaboration between the British Antarctic Survey and the universities of Queen Mary London, Liverpool, Oxford and Southampton. The project received funding from the Natural Environmental Research Council and runs between 2017 and 2022.

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    The data set comprises a diverse collection of physical, chemical and biological measurements, encompassing well over 1000 parameters. There are data from over 1000 conductivity-temperature-depth (CTD)/rosette stations, over 440 core profiles, over 180 sediment trap samples, over 140 net hauls and much, much more. The primary study area was a box extending to the base of the slope from Vigo to Cap Finistere. However, data are included from both further offshore (filament tracking) and from the Portuguese Margin. Measurements were taken from November 1996 to October 1999 during 33 cruise legs, involving research vessels from seven nations. Data were collected using a variety of equipment and techniques, including expendable bathythermographs (XBTs), turbulence probes, CTDs and oceanographic undulators with auxiliary sensors. These hydrographic profiles were accompanied by net hauls, plankton recorder deployments, sediment cores and a comprehensive water sampling programmes during which a wide variety of chemical and biological parameters were measured. The station data were supplemented by underway measurements of oceanographic and meteorological properties. Results from production and phosphate uptake experiments are also included in the dataset, as are bathymetric data from multibeam (swath) surveys, coastal upwelling measurements and data from moored instruments and benthic landers. The dataset also includes imagery from satellites, seabed photography and X-ray photographs of core samples. The aim of the project was study biogeochemical processes at the shelf break and to quantify the fluxes of material between the shelf and the open ocean. The project brought together over 100 scientists from 40 research centres and universities throughout Europe. The British Oceanographic Data Centre (BODC) is assembling the data sets collected during OMEX II into its project database system and the data set is also available on CD-ROM.