Master’s intern studying marine biogeochemistry in the Mediterranean Sea.
Laura Giraud is doing a Master’s 2 internship at the Mediterranean Institute of Oceanography (MIO), Aix-Marseille University, where she completed a degree in physics-biogeochemistry. Prior to that, she got a Master’s 1 degree in geosciences from the École Normal Supérieur and a bachelor’s degree in Earth Sciences from the University of Tours.
SWOT AdAC : What is your field of research and how did you choose it?
Laura Giraud: I’m currently working in marine biogeochemistry with Elvira Pulido and Thierry Moutin on Phosphorus and Nitrogen in the oligotrophic ocean, and more specifically in the Mediterranean Sea. I try to understand how phosphorus and nitrogen are distributed spatially and within the water column. I’ve always been fascinated by biogeochemical cycles, ever since my degree at Tours. I first became interested in Carbon, then I discovered the importance of Phosphorus and Nitrogen for phytoplankton in the oligotrophic ocean (60% of the ocean surface). What interested me in working in biogeochemistry is to be able to do chemistry while still being able to work on ocean physics.
SWOT AdAC: How does your field of research relate to SWOT?
LG: Working on the horizontal and vertical distribution of phosphorus and nitrogen, the impact of fine-scale structures on this distribution and on the fluxes of phosphorus and nitrogen to the surface is of importance, as these structures are ubiquitous in the ocean. SWOT provides access to very fine-scale altimetry and surface velocity data. As a result, these structures are easier to detect using satellite measurements. This will enable us to precisely target a frontal structure in order to sample on either side of it as part of our biogeochemical studies.
SWOT AdAC: What excites you about SWOT and the BioSWOT-Med campaign in which you’ll be participate? How will you contribute to the campaign?
LG: What excites me about SWOT is the resolution of the maps it makes available to us thanks to its measurements from space. Being able to work on satellite maps with such precision is very exciting. During BioSWOT-Med I’ll help to measure high-resolution dissolved phosphate and nitrogen, as well as the activity of an enzyme (phosphatase) in water samples taken at the surface and in the water column on both sides, as well as on the front.
SWOT AdAC: What are your plans after the campaign?
LG: After the campaign, the idea is to continue the analyses on the samples we have taken and frozen. We also want to measure organic phosphorus and nitrogen at high resolution, as well as taking measurements of phosphorus and nitrogen in particulate matter. In this way, we want to study the nitrogen and phosphorus profiles on either side of the structure and try to quantify the fluxes of these elements to the surface due to physics and biology.