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Application of a New Method for Isotopic Analysis of Diatom Microfossil-bound Nitrogen

The Southern Ocean may play a central role in causing ice ages and general global climate change. This work will reveal key characteristics of the glacial ocean, and may explain the cause of glacial/interglacial cycles by measuring the abundances of certain isotopes of nitrogen found in fossil diatoms from Antarctic marine sediments. Diatom-bound N is a potentially important recorder of nutrient utilization. The Southern Ocean's nutrient status, productivity and circulation may be central to setting global atmospheric CO2 contents and other aspects of climate. Previous attempts to make these measurements have yielded ambiguous results. This project includes both technique development and analyses, including measurements on diatoms from both sediment traps and culture experiments. With regard to broader impacts, this grant is focused around the education and academic development of a graduate student, by coupling their research with mentorship of an undergraduate researcher.

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