Nutrients down the Mersey: Are we over-fertilising the Irish Sea?

Fertilising sea Prince Madog Research Vessel. The Prince Madog research vessel is based in Bangor University, Wales. The purpose of the visit was to get a further understanding of how scientists collect data from the sea.

Childwall School, Liverpool; Proudman Oceonographic Laboratory; Natural Environment Research Council 

Teenagers studying science at Childwall School, Liverpool, are working with the Proudman Oceanographic Laboratory (POL), to gather data on oxygen levels in the Irish Sea. In partnership with the Royal Society, the school has invested in its own monitoring equipment that has been cited in Liverpool Bay, providing ongoing data for analysis as part of GCSE coursework.

‘Exposing students to the real world of scientific research has benefits in terms of their career aspirations but also more generally in improving scientific literacy creating so called citizen scientists,’ suggests Mike McAteer, Information Communication Technology Co-ordinator at Childwall.

POL has been carrying out research in Liverpool bay using a research vessel, The RV Prince Madog, due to concerns that sewerage treatment in the UK is inadaquate. ‘Sewerage increases the levels of nutrients in the sea, algae and plankton proliferate, and reduce the available oxygen for fish and other sea life, a process known as eutrophication,’ explains Mike.

The project will take place over four months and involves 35 pupils who will visit the research vessels that place monitoring equipment out at sea and also POL to meet with scientists and see how they utilise and assess the data they collect.