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Charel Wohl searching for trace gases in the polar regions

Charel completed his BSc Biochemistry in 2016. During his time at Highschool he was actively interested in doing research as a career and participated in the Contest for Young Scientists in Luxembourg with a project about the defence of garlic against herbivory and heavy metals later published in the Journal “Junge Wissenschaft”. In his free-time he completed the Mérite Jeunesse (Duke of Edinburgh Award) which encourages young people to become active members in society by enrolling them in certain regular activities and taking them on backpacking trips.

For his PhD, Charel no combines his passion for the outdoors with his interest in science.

Oxygenated Volatile Organic Compounds (OVOCs) are a group of organic compounds like acetone, methanol or acetaldehyde present in the atmosphere. They play an important role her oxidative capacity and hence ozone production or loss in oceans. Moreover, the sum of these three gases accounts for 37-63% of organic carbon observed in oceans and dissolved OVOCs represent a carbon and energy source for surface microbes. A major uncertainty is the role of the oceans in being a sink or a source for these compounds due to a lack of measurements.

The aim of his PhD is to increase the available data set and measure the Air-Sea gas exchange of these traces gases in the polar regions. As part of his PhD, he will develop a protocol to extract the gases from the surface ocean and quantify them using a Proton-Transfer-Reaction Mass Spectrometer.

Last summer Charel participated at Canadian led Arctic cruise on the ice-breaker CCGS Amundsen to measure these compounds in the high Canadian Arctic. He has taken a PTR-Mass Spectrometer to sea which he coupled to a newly developed equilibrator which extracts these gases from the water phase. A broad range of auxiliary data (radiation, Chla conc, methane conc., O3 conc., Particle size distribution) will allow to deduce their unique production mechanisms and role in the polar atmosphere.

Charel is a PhD student at the University of East Anglia (UEA), Norwich and is based in Plymouth Marine Laboratory (PML). He also has a supervisor at the British Antarctic Survey (BAS) and he is part of the EnvEast DTP.

His supervisors are: Phil Nightingale (PML), Ming-Xi Yang (PML), Bill Sturges (UEA), Anna Jones (BAS) and Rachael Beale (PML).



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