genre image of the ocean
Photo: Jonathan Havenhand

Two marine researchers receive the Swedish King's Environmental Grant


Alexandra Kinnby and Marcel du Plessis both receive SEK 100 000 from the King Carl XVI Gustaf 50th Anniversary Fund. Alexandra Kinnby for her research on how seaweed is affected by ocean acidification, Marcel du Plessis for his research on rainfall measurements at sea to improve climate models.

“It is a great honour to be awarded a grant by The King. I think my research topic is important and it feels good to have it recognised in this way,” says Alexandra Kinnby, post doc at the Department of Marine Sciences at the University of Gothenburg.

Alexandra Kinnby.
Alexandra Kinnby, post doc at the Department of Marine Sciences at the University of Gothenburg.

In her research, Alexandra Kinnby has discovered a previously unknown effect of ocean acidification on the large brown algae bladder wrack. Although a bladder wrack cultivated in ocean acidified water grows faster, it also becomes less resilient. When exposed to waves, the plants more easily break and tear apart.

Ocean acidification makes seaweed weaker

Seaweed forests in the world's oceans play an important role in providing habitats for other species such as fish, crustaceans, and marine mammals. It also provides food for both fish and invertebrates. If seaweed forests are destroyed due to ocean acidification, there could be major negative impacts on our ecosystems.
Alexandra Kinnby will use the grant money to study whether the experiments with bladder wrack also apply to other brown algae species. Part of the grant will be used to deepen contacts with researchers in Vancouver, where Alexandra Kinnby plans to conduct experiments with kelp, perhaps the most important brown algae in the world.

“I also want to investigate how the cell structure is affected by acidification to understand more about why the seaweed becomes weaker,” says Alexandra Kinnby.

Marcel du Plessis
Marcel du Plessis, researcher at the Department of Marine Sciences at the University of Gothenburg.

Rainfall over the ocean affects the climate

Marcel du Plessis is working within the Polar Gliders research team to develop new techniques to measure the effects of rainfall at sea with the aim of making weather and climate forecasts more accurate. His latest research shows that the ocean and the atmosphere are interacting much faster and at smaller spatial scales than scientists had previously assumed.
“Changes in ocean temperature, or the wind blowing just above the sea surface for the period of a few days, can have a lasting impact on the longer-term effects of the season, such as through warmer than usual ocean temperatures, which can lead to knock-on effects of enhanced evaporation and so more rainfall,” says Marcel du Plessis, researcher at the Department of Marine Sciences at the University of Gothenburg..
In his research, Marcel du Plessis uses autonomous ocean robots that sail on the ocean surface for long periods of time to collect data. He will invest the grant money in a very important mini radar sensor to be integrated into an autonomous ocean robot owned by the University of Gothenburg.

“I am extremely grateful to receive this grant. This award will help put Sweden at the forefront of ocean-atmosphere climate research," says Marcel du Plessis.


Alexandra Kinnby

Tel: + 46 766-18 51 38

Marcel du Plessis


King Carl XVI Gustaf 50th Anniversary Fund

The foundation was established in connection with H.M. The King's 50th birthday on the initiative of The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, The Royal Swedish Academy of Engineering Sciences, The Royal Swedish Agricultural Academy, and the Confederation of Swedish Industry (now the Confederation of Swedish Enterprise).  

Its purpose is to promote research, technological development, and enterprise that contribute to the sustainable utilisation of natural resources and the conservation of biodiversity.