Griet Neukermans - CarbOcean

Description of the PI Griet Neukermans

Griet Neukermans (°1979, Belgium) is an oceanographer studying the diverse kingdom of marine particles – the living and the non-living, the organic and the inorganic. Throughout her career she has acquired expertise in remote and in situ optical sensing of marine particles from the surface of the sea to the bottom of the ocean twilight zone. She has harnessed her skills to tackle research questions in ocean biogeochemistry, ecology, and global change. Her research team at Ghent University aims at a better understanding of the biogeochemistry and ecology of marine particles in a changing ocean using a variety of observational, experimental, and modeling approaches.

Griet Neukermans holds master degrees in applied mathematics (2002) and marine ecology (2004) from the Vrije Universiteit Brussel and obtained a PhD in physics from the Université du Littoral Côte d’Opale in France (2012). She was a postdoctoral researcher at Scripps Institution of Oceanography (USA), held a Banting postdoctoral fellowship at Université Laval (Canada), and a Marie Sklodowska-Curie fellowship at Sorbonne Université (France), and now holds an ERC Starting Grant at Ghent University with kick-off on 1 November 2020. Since May 2020 she is a tenured associate research professor in the Biology department of UGent.

Personal website:

Description of the projectCarboOcean2

CarbOcean – an integrative approach to unravel the ocean’s biological carbon pump
The ocean’s biological carbon pump plays a crucial role in storing atmospheric CO2 in the deep ocean, thereby isolating carbon from the atmosphere for decades to centuries. Yet, its capacity to do so is under-constrained and its mechanisms poorly understood.

The CarbOcean team, led by Griet Neukermans, will develop a mechanistic and quantitative understanding of the biological carbon pump using a novel integrative approach that accounts for its two component pumps: (1) the organic carbon pump driven by the photosynthetic production of particulate organic carbon (POC), and (2) the carbonate pump driven by the production of particulate inorganic carbon (PIC). The CarbOcean team will develop a new optical sensor for autonomous quantification of PIC. This technological breakthrough will in turn empower a unique robotic approach to quantify the two key components of the biological carbon pump, which together determine the net transfer of CO2 to the deep ocean and the fate of carbon in the ocean twilight zone. The robotic ocean profilers will be deployed in a wide variety of ocean environments to gather carbon observations and environmental parameters from the well-lit surface ocean through the underlying twilight zone at high spatiotemporal resolution.

The observations collected by CarbOcean’s robotic profilers will then fuel hypothesis-driven research on the transformations and fate of carbon in the twilight zone, and facilitate improved representations of the biological carbon pump in biogeochemical models.



Project website: (under construction)