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Page last updated at 11:11 GMT, Wednesday, 23 July 2008 12:11 UK

Dr Raymond Leakey - Chief Scientist

Raymond Leakey

I started out in science studying a charismatic group of singled-celled animals called ciliates which live in coastal and oceanic waters.

Since then my research, conducted in tropical, temperate and polar seas, has contributed to our understanding of how ciliates and other small microbial animals called protozoa, live their lives and affect our world.

Protozoa are just one small part of a much larger assemblage of marine microbial plants and animals which, acting together, support all life in the oceans and shape our climate.

We are still only just beginning to work out how all these tiny but important organisms interact with each other and their environment, especially in the more remote and inaccessible polar oceans.

Such understanding is vital if we are to predict more accurately the effects of future climate change.

Dr Raymond Leakey tells Newsnight's Susan Watts about what they will see in the Arctic. Filmed at their base at the Scottish Association for Marine Science - or SAMS in Oban.

This Arctic expedition will be my sixth to the polar oceans.

Working in this environment is always a challenge and never easy, and I'm sure this trip will be no exception.

There are lots of scientific and logistical problems to sort out and the unpredictable Arctic weather and sea-ice conditions make them more interesting, if not always pleasant! Working in polar seas can, however, be a unique and rewarding experience.

Scientifically we will get a rare insight into a little known environment and have the fun of working out how the different parts of the marine "jigsaw" fit together.

More personally I will have the privilege of leading a great team of scientists and working with the highly professional officers and crew of one of the world's best research ships.

I will also get to leave everyday life behind, see some amazing sights and reflect once again on the vastness of ocean: everyone should go to sea at least once, to see how "blue" our planet really is.

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