Using cylindrical tanks that are filled to the brim with water, and inoculated with different monocultures of phytoplankton, researchers can simulate conditions that a particle of marine snow would undergo as it sinks through the layers of the ocean towards the ocean floor. The constant rolling motion of the tanks at a calculated speed creates a phenomenon call “solid body rotation” in which the water inside each tank begins to act as a solid substance rotating together. This allows the particles of marine snow to be perpetually suspended in the water within the tank as they sink.
Often these experiments are conducted in dark conditions to better represent the environment of the deep ocean that is cold and without light. Our researchers use green Christmas light to see while they conduct the experiment, this is due to the fact that green light wavelengths are not utilized by phytoplankton, and therefore do not disrupt the photosynthetic cycle during the experiment.