Archive for November, 2015

Climate change likely to increase black carbon input to the Arctic Ocean

November 30, 2015

University of Georgia Skidaway Institute of Oceanography scientist Aron Stubbins led a team of researchers to determine the levels of black carbon in Arctic rivers and found that the input of black carbon to the Arctic Ocean is likely to increase with global warming. The results of their study were recently published in the journal Frontiers in Earth Science.

Black carbon, or biochar, is formed when vegetation and other organic matter burns. Today black carbon is a massive store of carbon in global soils, where it is thought to be very stable — so stable, that researchers have previously suggested that adding black carbon to soils might be a good way to lock away carbon dioxide and reduce climate change. This new research reveals that the black carbon stored in Arctic soils is being exported to the oceans.

Arctic rivers are the major way black carbon is transported to the ocean.

Arctic rivers are the major way black carbon is transported to the ocean.

The Arctic is warming faster than other regions of the planet due to climate change. The scientists report that, as the planet warms, the amount of black carbon transported to the Arctic Ocean will likely increase. Once dissolved in the ocean and exposed to sunlight, black carbon may be rapidly converted back to the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide.

In ongoing work at UGA and partner universities, Stubbins and his colleagues are trying to determine just how much black carbon will be exported to the Arctic Ocean as the Arctic continues to warm, and once it reaches the oceans, what percentage will reach the atmosphere as carbon dioxide.

The article is titled “Utilizing Colored Dissolved Organic Matter to Derive Dissolved Black Carbon Export by Arctic Rivers.” In addition to Stubbins, the co-authors include Robert Spencer from Florida State University; Jutta Niggemann and Thorsten Dittmar from the University of Oldenburg, Germany; Paul Mann from Northumbria University; Max R. Holmes from Woods Hole Research Center; and James McClelland from University of Texas Marine Science Institute.

The entire article can be viewed online at: http://journal.frontiersin.org/article/10.3389/feart.2015.00063/abstract

Stubbins has a website detailing this and other work on black carbon at:

http://www.skio.usg.edu/?p=research/chem/biogeochem/blkcarbon

New convention center exhibit touches on Skidaway Institute history

November 13, 2015

UGA Skidaway Institute of Oceanography had an interesting beginning. In 1968, Robert and Dorothy Roebling donated their Modena Plantation on the north end of Skidaway Island to the state to be the site for an oceanographic institute. The Roebling family has a fascinating, going back to Robert’s great grandfather, John Augustus Roebling, who designed and began construction of the Brooklyn Bridge. When Robert and Dorothy first arrived at Skidaway Island in the mid-1930s, they arrived on their 150 foot sailing yacht, the Black Douglas. The exhibit focuses on the Roeblings and the Black Douglas.

http://savannahnow.com/exchange/2015-11-12/roeblings-donate-exhibit-black-douglas

Three Skidaway scientists approved for Georgia Sea Grant funding

November 13, 2015

Three of our scientists have received funding approval for their research from Georgia Sea Grant. Here is the release from UGA.

Georgia Sea Grant awards over $800,000 in funding toward coastal research
November 12, 2015

Writer: Lee Redding
Contact: Mark Risse

Athens, Ga. – The Georgia Sea Grant College Program at the University of Georgia is funding research projects that address critical environmental and economic challenges in coastal Georgia.

The diverse projects include investigations into plastic contamination in coastal waterways, a parasitic threat affecting Georgia shrimp and the economic feasibility of raising homes to reduce the impact of flooding.

The seven new awards, totaling $815,736, mark a 15 percent increase in Georgia Sea Grant’s research investments in natural and social sciences. In order to address the wide range of topics identified as priorities by coastal stakeholders, the program has dedicated a greater proportion of its overall budget toward research for this funding cycle. Funding for Georgia Sea Grant research comes from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration National Sea Grant College Program.

“I am pleased to see the quality and breadth of our research portfolio that spans a spectrum of disciplines, from the fundamental understanding of coastal processes to the economic analysis of retrofitting homes in coastal Georgia,” said Mark Risse, director of Marine Extension/Georgia Sea Grant, a unit of UGA Public Service and Outreach. “Enabling university-based research to develop solutions for the unmet needs of Georgia’s coast, and linking that research to economic development, is a major focus of the Georgia Sea Grant College Program.”

One such project, led by Skidaway Institute of Oceanography professor Marc Frischer, is a continuing investigation into black gill, a condition threatening Georgia’s top fishery-shrimping. Georgia Sea Grant will also be funding a proposal by Warren Kriesel, an associate professor in the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, to analyze the viability of elevating houses, an approach more homeowners and local governments are considering in order to combat flooding. Given recent flooding from Hurricane Joaquin and the supermoon lunar tidal event, the research aims to give property owners strategies for protecting their homes and businesses from incurring flood damage, while bearing in mind the economic constraints that many homeowners face.

The seven projects are part of Georgia Sea Grant’s Request for Proposals process, which occurs every two years to address research priorities identified by coastal stakeholders. The RFP is developed incorporating feedback from a coastal advisory board and then distributed statewide to institutions of higher education. The research projects that are selected for funding undergo a competitive merit review process: They are initially evaluated by a Georgia stakeholder review panel and are then ranked by an external technical science review committee to determine their scientific rigor, technical soundness and relevance to Georgia Sea Grant’s research priorities, which address current problems on the coast.

For FY2016-2018, the awards will begin on Feb. 1, 2016, and will terminate on Jan. 31, 2018. Selected research projects and the lead investigators are:

• Oyster and Salt Marsh Edge Interactions: Informing Living Shoreline and Oyster Restoration Design, James Byers, Odum School of Ecology, UGA.
• Black Gill in Georgia Shrimp: Causes and Consequences, Marc Frischer, Skidaway Institute of Oceanography, UGA.
• Assessing Prevalence and Composition of Ingested Plastic Contaminants by Georgia’s Estuarine Organisms, Jay Brandes, Skidaway Institute of Oceanography, UGA.
• A Novel Hybrid Approach for Mapping Belowground Productivity and Carbon Sequestration Potential within Georgia Salt Marshes, Deepak Mishra, department of geography, UGA.
• Investigation of the Shallow Hydrogeologic System on St. Catherine’s Island to Define Salt Water Intrusion Pathways and the Potential for Shallow-Deep Aquifer Communication, Robert Vance, department of geology, Georgia Southern University.
• Promoting Flood Hazard Resilience: The Economics of Elevation Retrofitting of Homes, Warren Kriesel, College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, UGA.
• A Geospatial Assessment of Nearshore Sand Resources and Sediment Transport Pathways for Georgia Coastal Resiliency and Recovery, Clark Alexander, Skidaway Institute of Oceanography, UGA.

The Georgia Sea Grant College Program
The Georgia Sea Grant College Program is a unique partnership that unites the resources of the federal government, the state of Georgia and universities across the state to create knowledge, tools, products and services that benefit the economy, the environment and the citizens of Georgia. It is administered through the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and is one of 33 university-based Sea Grant Programs around the country. Georgia Sea Grant, along with its partner, the University of Georgia Marine Extension, are units of the Office of Public Service and Outreach at the University of Georgia. The programs’ mission is to improve public resource policy, encourage far-sighted economic and fisheries decisions, anticipate vulnerabilities to change and educate citizens to be wise stewards of the coastal environment. For more information, visit http://georgiaseagrant.uga.edu.

Cruising the North Atlantic in November

November 12, 2015

Skidaway Institute researcher Elizabeth Harvey is one week into a five-week-long North Atlantic research cruise. Here is the latest post from the cruise blog, including a picture of Liz in the blue parka.

The Impacts of Sea Level Rise

November 5, 2015

Source: The Impacts of Sea Level Rise

Skidaway scientist’s study front-cover news

November 2, 2015

Aron Stubbins’ recent work on deep-ocean hydrothermal vents (earlier post) is the cover story for this month’s Nature Geoscience. Wayi to go, Aron!

Aron Cover