Dr Robyn Tuerena

        Head and shoulder photo of SAMS biogeochemist Robyn Tuerena during an oceanographic expedition

Lecturer in Nutrient Biogeochemistry

Marine biogeochemist researching nutrient and carbon cycles in the open ocean. Interests include: nutrient uptake and limitation by algae, sources and sinks of nutrients and links to ocean circulation.

Contact details:

I am a marine biogeochemist interested in nutrient and carbon cycling on local to basin scales and their interactions with phytoplankton and marine food webs. My research utilises nutrient concentrations, stable isotope techniques and stoichiometric tools to better understand:

1) the marine nitrogen and carbon cycles: sources, sinks and feedbacks

2) the role of phytoplankton in controlling the distribution of carbon and nutrients in the modern ocean (from the Southern Ocean to the nutrient impoverished gyres)

3) how climate change is influencing carbon and nitrogen cycling in the Arctic and the implications to the marine food web

4) dissolved organic matter sources to the ocean (from hydrothermal vents to Arctic permafrost)

5) how corals respond to environmental change in the past and present ocean


Current projects

Ikirassaaluit Qikiqtaimi (Polynyas of the Belcher Islands): A proposal to support marine conservation efforts for the Qikiqtait: developing an improved understanding of how the local ecosystem of the Belcher Islands, Hudson Bay, is responding to environmental changes. Funded by DFO. 2022-24

C-Streams: The Gulf Stream control of the North Atlantic carbon sink. Funded by NERC. 2023-26

eSWEETS: Enabling Sustainable Wind Energy Expansion in Seasonal Seas. Funded by NERC. 2023-26

DOGMA: Dissolved Organic matter subduction and transport along the east Greenland MArgin: Funded by NERC. 2023-26

CUSTARD (Carbon Update and Seasonal Traits in Antarctic Remineralisation). Funded by NERC. 

ORCHESTA (Ocean Regulation of Climate by Heat and Carbon Sequestration). Funded by NERC.


Important past projects

ARISE. Funded by NEC. 2017-21

Ridgemix. Funded by NERC. 2015-18

UKGEOTRACES. Funded by NERC. 2010-15

Peer-reviewed publications

Francis, A., Ganeshram, R. S., Tuerena, R. E., Spencer, R. G. M., Holmes, R. M., et al., (2023) Permafrost degradation and nitrogen cycling in Arctic rivers: insights from stable nitrogen isotope studies, Biogeosciences, 20, 365–382, https://doi.org/10.5194/bg-20-365-2023

Santos-Garcia, M., Ganeshram, R. S., Tuerena, R. E., Debyser, M. C. F., Husum, K., et al., (2022) Nitrate isotope investigations reveal future impacts of climate change on nitrogen inputs and cycling in Arctic fjords: Kongsfjorden and Rijpfjorden (Svalbard), Biogeosciences, 19, 5973–6002, https://doi.org/10.5194/bg-19-5973-2022 

Debyser, M. C. F., Pichevin, L., Tuerena, R. E., Dodd, P. A., Doncila, A., et al., (2022) Tracing the role of Arctic shelf processes in Si and N cycling and export through the Fram Strait: insights from combined silicon and nitrate isotopes, Biogeosciences, 19, 5499–5520, https://doi.org/10.5194/bg-19-5499-2022 

Tuerena, R.E, C. Mahaffey, S. F. Henley, L. Norman, T. Brand, et al., (2022) Nitrogen and phosphorus pathways and their susceptibility to past and future change in the Eurasian Arctic Ocean. AMBIO 51, 355–369.

Spingys, C., R. G. Williams, R. E. Tuerena, A. Garabato et al., (2021) The nutrient supply from diapycnal mixing and eddy stirring for the oligotrophic North Atlantic. Global Biogeochemical Cycles, 35 (12), e2021GB007200.

Sanders, T, …, R. E. Tuerena, et al., (2021) Seasonal Nitrogen Fluxes of the Lena River Delta, AMBIO 51, 423–438.

Verwega, M-T., C. J. Somes, M. Schartau, R. E. Tuerena, A. Lorrain, et al., (2021) A global marine particulate organic carbon-13 isotope data set, Earth Syst. Sci. Data, 13, 4861–4880.

Tuerena, R.E, J. Hopkins, P.J. Buchanan, R.S. Ganeshram, L. Norman, et al., (2021) An Arctic strait of two halves: The changing dynamics of nutrient uptake and limitation across the Fram Strait. Global Biogeochemical Cycles, 35, e2021GB006961.

Tuerena, R. E., Hopkins, J., Ganeshram, R. S., Norman, L., de la Vega, C., Jeffreys, R., and Mahaffey, C. (2021) Nitrate assimilation and regeneration in the Barents Sea: insights from nitrate isotopes. Biogeosciences, 18, 637–653. https://doi.org/10.5194/bg-18-637-2021 

de la Vega, C., Mahaffey, C., Tuerena, R.E., Yurkowski, D.J., Ferguson, S.H., Stenson, G.B., Nordøy, E.S., Haug, T., Biuw, M., Smout, S., Hopkins, J., Tagliabue, A. and Jeffreys, R.M. (2020), Arctic seals as tracers of environmental and ecological change. Limnol Oceanogr. https://doi.org/10.1002/lol2.10176

Buchanan P, R. Tuerena, A. Tagliabue, and C. Mahaffey (2020) How Nutritious Will the Future Arctic Ocean Be? Front. Young Minds. 8:93. https://doi.org/10.3389/frym.2020.00093

Tuerena, R. E., R. S. Ganeshram, M. P. Humphreys, T. J. Browning, H. Bouman, and A. Piotrowski (2019) Isotopic fractionation of carbon uptake in phytoplankton across the South Atlantic subtropical convergence.  Biogeosciences, 16 (18), 3621-3635. https://doi.org/10.5194/bg-16-3621-2019

De la Vega, C, R. Jeffreys, R. E. Tuerena, R.S. Ganeshram and C. Mahaffey (2019) Temporal and spatial trends in marine carbon isotopes in the Arctic Ocean and implications for food web studies. Global Change Biology. https://doi.org/10.1111/gcb.14832  

Tuerena, R. E., R. G. Williams, C. Mahaffey, C. Vic, J. A. M. Green, A. C. N. Naveira-Garabato, A. Forryan, and J. Sharples (2019) Internal tides drive nutrient fluxes into the deep chlorophyll maximum over mid-ocean ridges. Global Biogeochemical Cycles, 33 (8), 995-1009. https://doi.org/10.1029/2019GB006214

Davis, C., M. C. Lohan,  R. E. Tuerena,  E. Cerdan‐Garcia,  E. M. S. Woodward,  A. Tagliabue and C. Mahaffey (2019) Diurnal variability in alkaline phosphatase activity and the potential role of zooplankton. Limnology and Oceanography Letters, 4, 71-78. https://doi.org/10.1002/lol2.10104 

Schlitzer, R., …, R. E. Tuerena, et al. (2017) The GEOTRACES Intermediate Data Product 2017. Chemical Geology, 493, 210-223, 2018. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.chemgeo.2018.05.040 

Henley, S. F., R. E. Tuerena, A. L. Annett, R. S. Ganeshram, A. E. Fallick, M. P. Meredith, H. J. Venables and A. Clarke (2016). Macronutrient supply, uptake and recycling in the coastal ocean of the west Antarctic Peninsula,  Deep Sea Research Part II, 139, 58-76, 2016. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.dsr2.2016.10.003 

Tuerena, R. E., R. S. Ganeshram, W. Geibert, A. E. Fallick, J. Dougans, A. Tait, S. F. Henley and E. M. S. Woodward (2015) Nutrient cycling in the Atlantic basin: The evolution of nitrate isotope signatures in water masses. Global Biogeochemical Cycles, 29 (10), 1830-1844, 2015. https://doi.org/10.1002/2015GB005164 


BSc (Hons) Marine Science: Module leader for year 4 'Defining the marine carbon cycle'

BSc (Hons) Marine Science: Lecturer Year 2 'Chemical Oceanography'

BSc (Hons) Marine Science: Lecturer Year 3 'Marine Biogeochemical Cycles'


Current research students

Marta Santos Garcia: Nitrogen cycling in a changing Arctic Ocean. PhD University of Edinburgh. 2022-26

Adam Francis: Controls on nitrogen fixation in the subtropical North Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea. PhD University of Edinburgh. 2021-25


Alumni research students

Phillip Punter: δ15N of skeletal-bound organic Nitrogen in corals. MSc University of Edinburgh. 2019-20

Margot Debyser: Characterizing geochemical cycles in the Arctic Gateway using dissolved silicon and nitrogen isotopes. PhD University of Edinburgh. 2018-21

Antonia Doncila: The nitrogen cycle in a warming Arctic Ocean. PhD University of Edinburgh. 2016-20

Charlotte Haugk: Melting permafrost in the Russian Arctic. MSc AWI Potsdam (Germany). 2018-20

Adam Francis: Permafrost degradation and nitrogen cycling in Arctic Rivers: Insights from stable nitrogen isotope studies. MSc University of Edinburgh. 2018-19

Celeste Kellock: Carbon cycling in the Barents Sea. MSc University of Edinburgh. 2017-18


Research expeditions

RRS James Clark Ross, JR18002, ORCHESTRA, Drake Passage

RRS James Clark Ross, JR17005, Changing Arctic Oceans

RRS James Clark Ross, JR15007, Ridgemix Cruise, North Atlantic

RRS James Clark Ross, JR15001, Atlantic Meridional Transect

RRS Discovery, D357, Geotraces A10 transect, South Atlantic

RRS James Cook, JC068, Geotraces A10 transect, South Atlantic


Public engagement / outreach

As part of the ARISE fieldwork programme I created an Arctic outreach website and blog (www.ariseatsea.com) aimed at communicating science and fieldwork to primary and secondary school children. I designed and implemented the webpage and created links with a school children. We made blog articles and encouraged questions, which were answered throughout the cruise.


Prizes / Awards

Challenger Woodward Fellowship (2021)

Employment history

Since 2020: Lecturer in Nutrient Biogeochemistry. SAMS

2017-20: Post-doctoral Research Associate: ARISE project - Can we detect changes in Arctic food webs? University of Edinburgh

2015-17: Post-doctoral Research Associate: RidgeMix poject - A nutrient and carbon pump over mid ocean ridges. University of Liverpool



2015 PhD 'Nitrogen and carbon cycling in the South Atlantic Ocean: A stable   isotope study along a 40°S transect (UK GEOTRACES)' University of Edinburgh

2010 BSc Environmental Sciences. University of Southampton