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Home > News > Lauren von Berg, Class of 2020, publishes research from internship studying Antarctic sea ice

Lauren von Berg, Class of 2020, publishes research from internship studying Antarctic sea ice

June 22nd, 2020

Now, von Berg — who received her bachelor’s degree in computer science June 2 — is the first author of a paper in the journal Geophysical Research Letters that examines the role of Antarctic sea ice in regulating phytoplankton growth. Phytoplankton form the base of the ocean’s food chain and absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere through photosynthesis.

Von Berg and the mostly Scripps-based team found that the retreat of sea ice can significantly influence phytoplankton growth and activity, and, thus, the amount of carbon dioxide the organisms can remove from the atmosphere. Study data was collected and made available by the PEI-administered Southern Ocean Carbon and Climate Observations Modeling project (SOCCOM) based at Princeton, which is funded by the National Science Foundation and involves researchers from multiple institutions including Scripps.

Co-authors on the paper included Sarah Gille, professor of climate, atmospheric science and physical oceanography; associate researcher Matthew Mazloff; and Lynne Talley, Distinguished Professor of Oceanography, all from Scripps, as well as Ethan Campbell from Princeton’s Class of 2016, a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Washington and a past PEI intern.

“I was excited about this project because the actual work was largely centered around coding, but I would also get to learn about and participate in another field that I’m interested in, oceanography,” von Berg said.

“Working at Scripps was an amazing experience. All of the people I interacted with had so much passion for their work and were willing to give great advice for my own project,” she said. “My mentors especially were always there to help guide my research. It was very exciting to see my work result in a peer-reviewed paper.”

The paper, “Weddell Sea Phytoplankton Blooms Modulated by Sea Ice Variability and Polynya Formation,” was published May 24 in Geophysical Research Letters. This work was supported by the Princeton Environmental Institute Internship program, the National Science Foundation (NSF) (grant no. PLR-1425989), a NSF Graduate Research Fellowship (grant no. DGE-1650112. ECC), and the U.S. Department of Defense National Defense Science and Engineering Graduate Fellowship Program.

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