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Holly Winton

Dr Holly Winton (Photo: Supplied)

2018: Dr Victoria (Holly) Winton, Victoria University of Wellington, has been awarded a Rutherford Foundation postdoctoral fellowship for research entitled: “How did marine primary production in the Ross Sea change over the past 2000 years?”

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Dr Holly Winton (Photo: Supplied)

Marine primary production, the mass of tiny photosynthetic plants floating in the upper ocean, plays a critical role in the oceans uptake of carbon dioxide. Despite their enormous importance, observational records of marine primary production only commenced in 1978 using satellite measurements. Owing to the brevity of this record, development of longer records are essential to improve our understanding of the natural changes of the ocean’s primary production with time.

Dr Holly Winton, from the Antarctic Research Centre, Victoria University of Wellington, has received a Rutherford Foundation Postdoctoral Fellowship to extend the primary production record using novel biomarker techniques on Antarctic ice cores from the Ross Sea. Ice cores provide a natural archive of environmental change. The new record will provide a window into primary productivity in this region over the past 2000 years, and help Dr Winton answer two fundamental questions: how did primary production change over this time period, and what drove the change?

Dr Winton will work with Associate Professor Nancy Bertler from the Antarctic Research Centre, Victoria University of Wellington, and GNS Science, a leading expert on ice core research. Their research will provide a baseline of primary production for the Ross Sea Marine Protected Area across time, and help climate models predict future Southern Ocean conditions in a warming world.