Archive for November, 2014

Evening @ Skidaway features underwater robots

November 10, 2014

Exploring the ocean with underwater robots will be the focus of an Evening @ Skidaway at the UGA Skidaway Institute of Oceanography on Thursday, November 13. The program will held in the McGowan Library at the University of Georgia Skidaway Institute of Oceanography, beginning with a reception at 6:30 p.m. to be followed by the lecture program at 7:15 p.m.

Catherine Edwards (center) demonstrates an underwater robot (AUV) to Mary Sweeney-Reeves (left) and Mare Timmons, both from the UGA Marine Extension Service.

Catherine Edwards (center) demonstrates an underwater robot (AUV) to Mary Sweeney-Reeves (left) and Mare Timmons, both from the UGA Marine Extension Service.

UGA Skidaway Institute professor Catherine Edwards will discuss her adventures and misadventures in the exciting field of underwater robots. Shaped like a six-foot long torpedo with stubby plastic wings, these autonomous underwater vehicles, or gliders, can be packed with sensors and are set lose to cruise the submarine environment for weeks on end. They produce amazing results, and sometimes face unusual and unexpected perils.

An “Evening @ Skidaway” is sponsored by the Skidaway Institute of Oceanography and the Associates of Skidaway Institute.

The program is open to the public, and admission is free.

For additional information, call (912) 598-2325.

26 Hours on the Marsh — November edition

November 6, 2014

Associate Professor Aron Stubbins led a 26 hour sampling program on the marsh. The team, including Thais Bittar, Robert Spencer, Zachary Tait, Megan Thompson, Alison Buchan, and Drew Steen, spent the day and night monitoring a day in the life of the microbes, gases and organic carbon molecules that form the biogeochemical milieu of the marsh. This work is part of two National Science Foundation projects involving professors and students from Skidaway Institute of Oceanography, University of Tennessee – Knoxville, and Florida State University.

Cutting edge techniques are being employed to watch the marsh creek in real time over 18 months. The sampling event shown in the time lapse video is the fall rendition of four seasonal sampling events that are recording the daily life of the creek. Manual sampling is required so that we can collect live bacteria and gas (such as carbon dioxide) samples that need to be processed by hand, immediately upon collection. The bacteria collected are being genetically characterized, so we know who was in the creek at different times of day (DNA). Then we will also determine which genes were active (RNA). This tells us what the bacteria present in the marsh were doing throughout the day.

We also record the changes in dissolved organic carbon throughout the day. Dissolved organic carbon is a major part of the global carbon cycle and so understanding its cycling is important with respect to understanding how natural carbon cycling responds to and plays a role in climate change. For the microbes in the creek, the dissolved organic carbon (DOC) is food. So by looking at which bacteria are there (DNA), what they are doing (RNA), and what types of food is present (DOC), we hope to gain a more complete understanding of the miniature world within every drop of creek water. The daily routines of these tiny bacteria and dissolved organic molecules shape the marsh ecosystem and play important roles in determining the current and future climate of our planet.