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Sources & Sinks: A Tale of Coastal Biogeochemistry - BONUS COCOA

Insights into the biogeochemistry work of the COCOA project: from the water column to the sediment, from the field to the lab. Secrets of the coastal filter and a life in aquatic sciences.
04.07.2017 21:57

An affair of the heart

Dana Hellemann

Last month I went to Canada to attend the 14th International Estuarine Biogeochemistry Symposium (IEBS) in Rimouski, Québec, and unintentionally discovered my relationship status. More on this later- first the really interesting news, such as what did I learn at the symposium?

Exploring the Canadian east coast during the 14th IEBS.
In particular, I learned that the St. Lawrence Estuary is the biggest in the world, a detail that the local scientists and organizers did not miss to emphasize, extensively. Smaller estuaries were however also tolerated, which was good news for the in comparison rather small estuaries of the Baltic Sea that I presented. Particularly the northern Baltic Öre estuary (64 km2) must have received a cuteness bonus in many minds.

Rimouski and its university (UQAR) are directly situated at the St. Lawrence Stream and thus a perfect spot to discuss estuarine biogeochemistry.
The theme of the 14th IEBS was “Estuaries: biogeochemical reactors in the land-sea continuum” and sessions included the topics “eutrophication & nitrogen cycling”, “carbon” and “trace metals & technology-critical elements”. Excellent key note presentations were given by Alfonso Mucci, Markus Huettel, Sue Ziegler and Montserrat Filella. COCOA member Christophe Rabouille joined the meeting as well and had as French native speaker a clear language advantage over many of the international guests from as far as Brazil, Mexico, China or Finland. Nevertheless, no language barrier could stop the ~ 55 enthusiastic scientists of all levels from MSc students to professors to discuss and exchange about estuaries at large and the latest ongoing work. The organizing team of the Université du Québec à Rimouski (UQAR) did a great job in providing a snug atmosphere for talks, poster sessions and all evening mingle; having the local brewery as a sponsor was clearly a good move.

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The happy participants of the 14th International Estuarine Biogeochemistry Symposium in Rimouski, Canada (picture: UQAR).

And then one night, at a later hour, in a pub, I apparently decoded the feelings at the bottom of my heart. If your thoughts now went wild, please get a grip and reconsider- this is a decent platform. During a student night organized by UQAR we battled for the cup of the best PhD/MSc thesis presentation by drawing (3 min) and explaining (30 sec). Speed presentations with a touch of modern art.

And here it comes: my drawing turned out to be dominated by hearts. Hearts around N2. In relationship with a gas? Well, that does solve the problem of “plus avec” invitations via “take a breath of air”, but of course there was also a deeper meaning in using the symbols. Take a look at the drawing / bar-scribble, for better understanding re-coloured:


The 30 sec explanatory talk went somewhere along the lines of....

“The Baltic Sea in northern Europe has too many nutrients, mostly nitrate, which leads to algae blooms (--> green scribble) and oxygen deficiency, so the sea is in bad ecological condition (--> sad smiley). The only way to remove nitrogen from an aquatic ecosystem is via denitrification and anammox, which results in N2 that goes into the air (--> that´s good *at least in a eutrophic system* --> HEARTS). Estuaries are recognized as potential hot spots of nitrogen removal and these are the 3 estuaries I looked at.“ FULL STOP and a deep breath.

Don´t put me down on scientific spotless accuracy, but nevertheless, my piece of art & speech was convincing enough to score second place. Now I am proud owner of a new coffee cup.

The conference was rounded up by a hike in the national park Bic at the St. Lawrence Stream on World Ocean Day, strengthening our attachment to the biggest estuary of the world.

National Park Bic, Québec.

Thanks UQAR for organizing such an interesting symposium!

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