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#Southern Ocean Mission - An Interview with the 3 key scientists of the SOCLIM project

  • 20.10.2016

Who are the 3 scientific researchers who are coordinating the SOCLIM project aboard the Marion Dufresne? What are their backgrounds, their motivations and their objectives? An interview with Stéphane Blain of the Laboratory for Microbial Oceanography, Hervé Claustre of the Oceanography Laboratory of Villefranche-sur-Mer, and Sabrina Speich of ENS Paris.

As members of the SOCLIM (Southern Ocean CLIMate) project, sponsored by the BNP Paribas Foundation its international Climate Initiative program, these 3 scientists set sail on 6 October aboard the oceanographic research vessel Marion Dufresne for a mission to the Southern Ocean.



Stéphane Blain

Principal investigator of the SOCLIM project

A professor of chemical oceanography at the Pierre and Marie Curie University in Paris, he works at the marine research station in Banyuls-sur-Mer, where he founded and directed the Laboratory for Microbial Oceanography (2010-2013), a research unit that works in partnership with UPMC and CNRS.

With his passionate interest in the Southern Ocean, Stéphane Blain specialises in the mechanisms of the ocean’s biological pump for CO₂ and in particular in the biogeochemistry of iron. He has participated in many missions to the Southern Ocean over the past 20 years. Notably, in 2005 he initiated the KEOPS (KErguelen Ocean and Plateau compared Study) oceanographic mission aboard the Marion Dufresne, the objective of which was to study the influence of the oceans on climate in the Kerguelen Islands region (the impact of iron fertilisation on the carbon cycle). 


Hervé Claustre

Co-principal investigator of the SOCLIM project

Director of Research at CNRS in association with the Oceanography Laboratory at Villefranche-sur-Mer (CNRS/UPMC), biologist specialising in methodologies for observing phytoplankton, Hervé has participated in more than fifteen expeditions, and in late 2004 he led an extraordinary exploration mission in the South Pacific between Tahiti and Chile. 

The author of more than 90 scientific publications, he was awarded the CNRS Silver Medal in 2005. With characteristic modesty, Hervé prefers to describe himself as “a biochemist who develops tools for marine robotics”. ”  

“ Developing new technologies, as we’re currently doing for underwater robots, is very important. I think that, really, it’s through developing new investigative tools that we’ll then be able to explore, discover and enhance our understanding.The part of this that’s particularly dear to my heart is being able to share these tools and this knowledge.“ 

Hervé Claustre

Director of Research at CNRS in association with the Oceanography Laboratory at Villefranche-sur-Mer


Sabrina Speich

Co-principal investigator of the SOCLIM project

A specialist in the understanding of ocean dynamics and their influence on climate change, Sabrina Speich is a globally recognised expert in modelling the oceans and in organising in situ observations on a large scale. She is a pioneer in the use of Argo floats for ocean observation.

As a member of the SOCLIM project, sponsored by the BNP Paribas Foundation, Sabrina, in coordination with Stéphane Blain and Hervé Claustre, will be all she can on this expedition to use the most effective technical means available to collect the most accurate possible data. The technology on board (Bio-Argo beacons) will make it possible to measure, in real time and from every angle, the biological activity of a key component of the oceans and the carbon cycle: phytoplankton, the first link in the food chain.

« What does the future hold for the Southern Ocean? »

Ways to explore the ocean deemed inaccessible? How will evolve its role in the climate system? Will it continue to absorb as much carbon in the future? Takeaways from the conference of Stéphane Blain, organised September 27, by the BNP Paribas Foundation in partnership with the Oceanographic Institute of Paris and Universcience.

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