For Media

PhD studentship opportunity at Newcastle University

Macro-consumer food web structure of mid-ocean ridge systems

The fate of chemosynthetic and photosynthetic energy input at contrasting sites in the North Atlantic and Southern Oceans

Supervisors: Dr. Ben Wigham and Prof. Nicholas Polunin

Based in the School of Marine Science and Technology at Newcastle University, this project forms part of 2 larger NERC programmes focussed on the deep-water ecosystems of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge (ECOMAR) and the Scotia Arc and Bransfield Strait (ChEsSo). As such you will be working within a wider, multi-disciplinary research community providing increased opportunities for collaboration and support. This project will specifically study the structure of deep-sea macro-consumer food webs at two contrasting localities. The specific aims of this project include; 1) a comparison of the isotopic and lipid signatures of selected macro-consumers (fish and invertebrates), examining the effects of distance from hydrothermal source and overlying productivity regimes, and 2) an assessment of ultimate food sources to whole food webs as indicated by linearity or otherwise of ä 15 N vs, ä 13 C data. This project will involve fieldwork in both the North Atlantic and Southern Ocean/Antarctica and you should be prepared to spend long periods (>4 weeks) at sea. You will also be required to be in a position to pass an ENG1 medical and a Sea Survival course to undertake this project.

For further information contact: ben.wigham@ncl.ac.uk

James Cook Research Vessel naming ceremony

Press invitation

EVENT: 6 FEB 2007 Southampton

HRH The Princess Royal names new scientific research ship

A new 40 million royal research ship, the RRS James Cook, will be formally named by HRH The Princess Royal on 6 February. The naming ceremony will be held at the National Oceanography Centre, Southampton.

The RRS James Cook is the latest addition to the Natural Environment Research Council's fleet of oceanographic research ships. It is one of the most advanced research vessels in the world and will carry scientists to some of the Earth's most challenging environments, from tropical oceans to the edge of the ice sheets. It was commissioned in 2004 to replace the RRS Charles Darwin, which has reached the end of its working life as a scientific research ship.

Ships such as the RRS James Cook help scientists to address fundamental questions, like the issue of climate change, that affect our future. They provide platforms to study marine processes like ocean currents, the deep ocean floor and the extraordinary creatures and organisms that inhabit the seas.

You are invited to attend the naming event, which starts with a press conference at 9.30am on 6 February at the National Oceanography Centre, Southampton.

For security reasons you must register your attendance- if your name is not on the list you will not be able to gain entrance.

Please register by 5pm on 2 February by emailing pressoffice@nerc.ac.uk to give details of your name and your newspaper, journal or media organisation and a contact number. Or telephone Marion O'Sullivan on 01793 411727, mobile 07917 086369.

Details for the day

Press conference 09.30-10.00

David Lewis, Head of the National Marine Facilities Division at the National Oceanography Centre, Southampton, will introduce you to a mix of people who will be able to answer your questions, including:

Ed Cooper, RRS James Cook project team.
Professor Monty Priede, a senior scientist who will be leading research expeditions aboard the ship.
Geraint West, National Marine Facilities Division.
Tor Inge Hansen, Flekkefjord Slipp& Maskinfabrikk AS, shipbuilder.
Dr Mike Webb, NERC Science & Innovation Manager for marine sciences.

Refreshments will be available after the press conference.

You will be directed to a designated area for the naming ceremony, which will begin at 10.55. You will not be able to interview HRH The Princess Royal, or accompany her during her tour of the ship. You will be able to film or take photographs from the designated media area on the quayside.

There will be media tours of the RRS James Cook available from 12.45 - 13.30.

Press packs with more information will be available on the day. The NERC photographer will be able to provide digital images of HRH aboard the ship for picture desks.

An image of the RRS James Cook can be emailed in advance of the event, if requested.

More information

Marion O'Sullivan, Senior Press Officer, NERC. Tel 01793 411727; mobile 07917 086369

Notes for editors

1. The RRS James Cook is substantially larger than its predecessor, the RRS Charles Darwin. It was designed as a world-class multidisciplinary science platform that allows for investigations using sophisticated and precisely targeted instruments, such as deep sea remotely operated vehicles.

2. It is powered by low-sulphur gas oil and uses diesel electric propulsion. Dynamic Positioning thrusters provide exceptional control and manoeuvrability, allowing the ship to hold a stable position to within one metre of a given point - crucial for deployment of scientific equipment and gathering of samples.

3. The ship is multi-functional, can carry large scientific parties and is highly flexible in the use of deck and laboratory space. It can operate in tropical regions and at the edge of the ice-sheets without compromising any performance capabilities.

4. The RRS James Cook is managed by NERC's National Marine Facilities Division, based at the National Oceanography Centre, Southampton. The ship is operated by professional mariners who deliver a working platform and practical assistance to the scientists.

5. The ship was built by Norwegian shipbuilder Flekkefjord Slipp & Maskinfabrikk AS. The shipyard has extensive exerience in building research vessels, offshore vessels and sophisticated fishing vessels. In 2003 the yard delivered the new "G.O. Sars" the flag vessel of the Institute of Marine Research, Norway.

6. The design for the RRS James Cook was developed by Norwegian design company Skipsteknisk AS, a leader in the design of sophisticated research vessels.

7. The National Oceanography Centre, Southampton (NOCS) opened in 1995 in a purpose-built, 50 million waterfront campus on the city's Empress Dock. A joint venture between the University of Southampton and the Natural Environment Research Council, the centre houses around 500 staff and 650 undergraduate and postgraduate students. In addition to the RRS James Cook, its National Marine Facilities Division manages one of NERC's other large research ships, the RRS Discovery. www.noc.soton.ac.uk 8. The Natural Environment Research Council funds world-class science, in universities and its own research centres, that increases knowledge and understanding of the natural world. NERC is tackling the 21st century's major environmental issues such as climate change, biodiversity and natural hazards. It leads in providing independent research and training in the environmental sciences. www.nerc.ac.uk