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Helen Bostock


Job title and place of work

Marine Geologist, NIWA.

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

RA2 – working with John Zeldis and others modelling the coastal carbonate systems.

Along with my colleague Sara Mikaloff-Fletcher we hope to use the monitoring data from RA1 (and previously collected data) from single sites and use some clever maths to extrapolate what the carbonate system might be doing in other coastal areas around New Zealand that we currently don’t have the resources to monitor.

What do you do on an average work day?

My work days vary depending on what project I am currently working on. I spend a little more time than I would like at my computer. Most of this time involves analysing data and writing/editing/reading proposals, reports or papers.

A lot of time is spent communicating with other researchers, with meetings, but also email and Skype with colleagues overseas. I try to get in the laboratory every few months to get my hands dirty. I spend several hours a week talking with my students and making sure they are on track with their projects. 

Why is studying coastal acidification important?

Coastal ecosystems are diverse and they provide considerable enjoyment, including for recreation and provision of kaimoana. However, these regions could be under threat from a raft of different climate and human influences - one of which is ocean acidification. This could have a significant effect on the coastal regions – creating dead zones, or regions where some species take over.

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

At high school I studied chemistry, maths, economics and art. Then at university I studied natural sciences, specialising in earth sciences. I then did a Masters in carbonate petrology and a PhD on chemical oceanography and past changes in the Southern Great Barrier Reef, Australia.

What outcomes from CARIM do you think there will be?

I hope we can identify the coastal areas around New Zealand that are potentially most at risk of future ocean acidification.

Understanding the effect of ocean acidification on individual marine species, and how these might flow on to the ecosystem in general is one outcome we aim for.

Working with community groups and the public on this will also help to build awareness of the issue. 

What excites you about working on this project?

Working in a multidisciplinary team, all approaching the problem from different perspectives is very educational for everyone involved as we all learn from each other.

The key will be bringing all the data together, as the sum of the results from different sub-projects is much greater than the individual sub-project results.

I am also excited about getting the community and iwi involved, as this will expand the amount of science that the small science team can do, but also help to come up with future management strategies.