Dr Katsiaryna Pabortsava
I am a marine biogeochemist at NOCS OBE department. I joined NOCS in 2010 and completed my PhD in 2014 on the downward particle export and sequestration fluxes in the oligotrophic Atlantic Ocean. Since 2015 I am a post-doc investigating distribution and downward fluxes of microplastics in the Atlantic Ocean for the H2020 AtlantOS programme. I also run microplastics analytical facility at NOCS which recently acquired a state-of-the-art Fourier-Transform Infrared imaging system.
My research focusses on quantifying and characterising the amount and type of microplastics in the open ocean, and determining the factors that control their distribution, behaviour and fate therein. I use vibrational spectroscopy and imaging technique to trace and characterise microplastics in the water column particles samples that I collected along the passage of Atlantic Meridional Transect research cruise AMT 26 from the UK to South Georgia and the Falklands in 2016. I also assess changes in microplastic fluxes down to the abyss (3000 m) and their accumulation in the deep-sea sediment (4000 – 5000 m) over the past 30 years and in response to different biogeochemical drivers such as primary production and downward particle flux. For this, I examine the sediment trap material and the deep-sea sediment samples collected at Porcupine Abyssal Plain in the northeast Atlantic and in centres of the North and South Atlantic oligotrophic gyres, where microplastics tend to accumulate.
My other research interests concern observations of biogeochemical cycling of major (C, N, Si) and minor/trace (Al, Fe, Mn, etc.) elements in the ocean, and specifically their transport from the ocean surface to its interior depth. My approaches to quantify and characterise particle fluxes of major and trace elements include both direct sampling of sinking material with sediment traps, and indirect estimations using naturally occurring 234Th isotope as a tracer.