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Emily Frost


Job title and place of work

PhD student, University of Auckland

What is your role in the CARIM project? What work package are you contributing to?

I am working on RA-1. I am helping with the deployment, maintenance and data processing of specialized carbonate chemistry sensors in a highly impacted New Zealand embayment, the Firth of Thames. 

What do you do on an average work day?

After starting at a crisp 7:30 at the Auckland City laboratory, we head out with the boat packed and the sensors ready to go at 8:30. We take the road out to Kawakawa Bay where we launch our stabby craft (and give the harbour dog Louie his monthly pat). After a 20 minute boat ride, we have arrived to our destination, Jake and Alan Barstrom’s mussel farm. We pull up next to the backbone, hitch on and secure the boat, and get to work. This includes a large chunk of time removing whatever critters have made the sensors home over the past few weeks, uploading all of the current data, and re-calibrating. We collect our bottle samples, and once nice and clean, the sensors are deployed back into the murky waters of the Firth of Thames to record data for another few weeks. Once we get back to the lab in the mid-afternoon, I get to work processing the nutrient and algal bottle samples and check over the data we have just collected. 

On days which we are not in the field, I am usually in the laboratory processing samples from some of my other experiments, or writing up the results we have already attained. 

Why is studying coastal acidification important?

With the increase in atmospheric CO2 and nutrient run off, it is incredibly important to try and tease apart what impacts future ocean change, especially acidification, will have on important marine species across New Zealand. As coastal environments are highly variable, and there are many other factors contributing to a change in ocean chemistry in these areas (such as nutrient run-off in the Firth of Thames), we need to work to try to predict the impact lowered pH will have in these ecosystems. This is especially so in areas, such as the Firth of Thames, where aquaculture is located.        

What study did you do at high school? And after high school?

I have had a passion for marine biology throughout my life, tailoring my high school subjects to meet this passion. My high school subjects were very science heavy. Once I left high school, I moved to Dunedin and completed a Bsc in Zoology and Ecology with a minor in Marine Science. I then went on and completed my Msc at the department of Zoology. My passion continued to grow during this time, and I fell in love with investigating the impact of a changing ocean, in particular, ocean acidification. I moved to Auckland and have been completing my PhD in Professor Mary Sewell’s laboratory at the University of Auckland.

What outcomes from CARIM do you think there will be?

CARIM will certainly expand our understanding on the impact of ocean acidification throughout the coastal waters of New Zealand. In addition, it will highlight the impact coastal acidification will have on key aquaculture species and coastal communities. This will aid the development of targeted policy to help ensure of New Zealand’s fantastic coastal environment.

What excites you about working on this project?

This project is the epitome of excellent collaboration with some of New Zealand’s best scientists. Additionally, the project pushes the boundaries of what we know, and aim to know, they project is brilliantly designed, and it is very exciting being a part of this cutting-edge science. 

Where do you think your contribution to CARIM and your experience as part of this project will lead you to?

CARIM has already allowed me to grow as a young scientist, and as a person. The collaboration and opportunity to help with a range of the projects, as well as helping with outreach and policy, has helped me build my passion for the ocean and research towards the impact of a future changing ocean.