Microscopic marine plankton are the most diverse organisms on the planet and are fundamental to ocean health. To predict their fate in our future ocean—one that is warming, becoming more acidic and more variable—we need to understand where these cells experience the greatest changes in their growth conditions, and what traits they need to tolerate these changes.

Adrift is a science visualisation project that calls on citizens to map the variable ocean and its microbial inhabitants in a simulated web environment.


Visualised here are oceanic temperature anomalies over the past century that fluctuate around a mean temperature of 22.2ºC. Warmer temperatures drive a brighter background and have an affect on the size of the plankton that float within it. Click/drag to add plankton to this changing ocean.

Rewind years
Fast-forward years
Scroll down arrow


The project is a collaboration between the Climate Change Cluster and School of Design at the University of Technology Sydney together with the Centre for Science Communication at the University of Otago. Adrift is generously funded by the Inspiring Australia – Science Engagement Programme, an initiative by the Australian Government Department of Industry, Innovation and Science, and supported by our partners, the Bureau of Meteorology and Australia’s Integrated Marine Observing System (IMOS).

Adrift team:

Professor Martina Doblin(Lead CI)C3 Faculty of Science, UTS
Dr Jacqueline Lorber Kasunic(Co-I)Data Poetics, School of Design, UTS
Professor Kate Sweetapple(Co-I)Data Poetics, School of Design, UTS
Professor Nancy Longnecker(Co-I)Centre for Science Communication, University of Otago
Thomas Ricciardiello(Designer)Data Poetics, School of Design, UTS
Kristelle De Freitas(Designer)Data Poetics, School of Design, UTS
Dr Michaela Larsson(Postdoctoral Research Associate)C3 Faculty of Science, UTS
Andrea Liberatore(Research Assistant)Centre for Science Communication, University of Otago

Help ocean scientists by launching your marmics (virtual marine microbes) soon.

Contact us to find out more.