Posts Tagged ‘Georgia Tech’

Skidaway Institute scientist shares Gulf oil spill research grant

December 17, 2014

University of Georgia Skidaway Institute of Oceanography scientist Catherine Edwards is part of a research team that has received an $18.8 million grant to continue studies of natural oil seeps and track the impacts of the BP/Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico ecosystem.

Known as ECOGIG-2 or “Ecosystem Impacts of Oil and Gas Inputs to the Gulf,” the project is a collaborative, multi-institutional effort involving biological, chemical, geological and chemical oceanographers led by the University of Georgia’s Samantha Joye. The research team has worked in the Gulf since the weeks following the 2010 Macondo well blowout.

The three-year, $18.8 million ECOGIG-2 program was funded by the Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative, or GoMRI.

“Our goal is to better understand the processes that have affected the oil spill since 2010,” Edwards said. “How the droplets were dispersed? Where the oil went? How it was taken up by small microbes and also the effects on animals further up the food chain?”

Skidaway Institute scientist Catherine Edwards adjusts a glider’s buoyancy with graduate students Sungjin Cho and Dongsik Chan.

Skidaway Institute scientist Catherine Edwards adjusts a glider’s buoyancy with graduate students Sungjin Cho and Dongsik Chan.

Edwards’ role in the project is to use autonomous underwater vehicles, also called “gliders,” to collect data on conditions around the spill site. Equipped with sensors to measure characteristics such as depth, water temperature, salinity and density, the gliders can cruise the submarine environment for weeks at a time, collecting data and transmitting it back to a ship or a shore station.

“We want to understand the ocean currents—how they change over time and how they change in depth,” Edwards said. “Surface measurements give us a two-dimensional picture of the ocean. Glider data in the vertical provides more valuable information for more fully understanding ocean currents and how they arise.”

The gliders will operate both in conjunction with shipboard instruments and also independently. One advantage of using the gliders is they can operate during storms and rough weather, when it may not be possible to use ships. Edwards said shipboard work doesn’t always give a full picture of ocean dynamics simply by the fact that they can only go out when the weather is reasonably clear.

When working in conjunction with research ships, the gliders can provide additional observations, significantly improving the quality of the data set. The gliders also report dissolved oxygen concentrations and optical measurements of chlorophyll and organic matter, and may also be used as a test vehicle for new instruments in development.

Edwards will use “GENIoS,” a new software package, to help navigate the gliders. GENIoS uses high-resolution forecast models of wind and ocean currents, along with information from the glider itself, to calculate the optimal path for the gliders. This will improve the quality of the scientific data collected.

GENIoS is a collaboration among Edwards, Fumin Zhang from the Georgia Institute of Technology and their two Georgia Tech Ph.D. students, Dongsik Chang and Sungjin Cho. GENIos has been tested for more than 210 glider-days on the continental shelf off Georgia and South Carolina. This experiment will be its first test in the Gulf of Mexico.

Edwards also hopes to use this project to test the gliders as platforms for new, experimental sensors developed by other members of the ECOGIG-2 team.

Others involved in ECOGIG-2 include UGA marine sciences faculty Christof Meile, Renato Castelao and Catherine Edwards as well as Annalisa Bracco and Joe Montoya of Georgia Tech.

For additional information, contact Catherine Edwards at (912) 598-2471 or catherine.edwards@skio.uga.edu.

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Scientists use underwater robots to excite students about science

March 3, 2014

Can underwater robots catch the imagination of middle and high school students and spark an interest in science, technology, engineering and mathematics? Researchers and educators from the University of Georgia’s Skidaway Institute of Oceanography and Marine Extension (MAREX) think so. They are creating an education program focused on autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs), also called gliders or underwater robots.

The program, “Choose Your Own Adventure,” will capitalize on Skidaway Institute’s expertise with AUVs and MAREX’s extensive history of marine education. Skidaway Institute scientist and UGA faculty member Catherine Edwards, and MAREX faculty members Mary Sweeney-Reeves and Mare Timmons will direct the one-year project.

Catherine Edwards (center) demonstrates an AUV to Mary Sweeney-Reeves (left) and Mare Timmons.

Catherine Edwards (center) demonstrates an AUV to Mary Sweeney-Reeves (left) and Mare Timmons.

The AUVs are a cutting-edge technology in marine research. The torpedo-shaped vehicles can be equipped with sensors and recorders to collect observations under all conditions. They are launched into the ocean and move through the water by adjusting their buoyancy and pitch. Because they are highly energy-efficient, gliders can remain on a mission for weeks at a time. Every four to six hours over their mission, they surface, report their data by satellite phone and receive instructions as needed.

Skidaway Institute’s AUV, nicknamed “Modena,” has been used in several recent projects, including “Gliderpalooza,” a simultaneous, cooperative launch of 13 AUVs from different institutions in 2013.

“Gliders are education-friendly, but the existing outreach activities are stale,” said Edwards. “Our program will develop the next generation of AUV outreach programs by combining cutting-edge, interdisciplinary research with educational activities and strong STEM components.”

The proposed work will highlight the problem of working with the strong tides that are characteristic of the Georgia coast. A big issue in operating gliders there is developing a guidance and navigation system that will function well in that kind of environment. The fast-moving Gulf Stream, located roughly 100 miles off the Georgia beaches, also introduces navigation problems.

“Although the AUVs have Global Positioning Systems and can be programmed to travel a set course, tidal and Gulf Stream currents can exceed the glider’s forward speed, which can take the instrument off course and keep us from collecting data where we need it,” Edwards said.

However, on the education side, the predictability of tides makes the proposed program highly intuitive and education-friendly.

“Students who grow up and live on the water already have an intuitive sense of tidal currents,” said Timmons. “Students understand why currents change during certain phases of the moon. This coastal intuition will provide a foundation for us to start an innovative, hands-on approach to STEM activities.”

Activities will depend on grade level so middle school students will have different objectives than those in high school. However, all the activities will address the direction and speed the AUV travels to a destination. The AUV direction and speed will depend on the sea state of coastal waters such as strong currents, storms or high winds.

To address the problem of strong tides, Edwards and a team of Georgia Tech graduate students, co-advised by Fumin Zhang, have developed the Glider Environmental Network Information System, called GENIoS, which optimizes a glider’s path based on data from real-time observations and ocean models. Current doctoral students Dongsik Chang and Sungjin Cho are working to upgrade the system to integrate real-time maps of surface currents measured by Skidaway Institute radar systems.

The education plan is to involve two local educators, April Meeks and Ben Wells, who teach in the Savannah-Chatham County Public School System. Since the activities are multidisciplinary, their expertise in building math curriculum will be valuable as the team integrates concepts of marine science, math and engineering into classroom activities.

“After the initial planning phase, we will be taking the program on the road to Chatham County schools,” said Sweeney-Reeves.

Activities will include student role-playing as an AUV maneuvers through a playing field of vector currents on a large game board. Successful arrival at their destination depends on how the individual pilot responds to currents, wind and density changes in route.

“The real fun will begin when obstacles, like underwater volcanoes, a giant squid or other surprises, cause the pilot to reroute the course of the AUV,” said Sweeney-Reeves.

The activities will allow students to develop analytical skills in a program that will be compliant with Next Generation Science Standards for the 21st Century in the common core state curriculum.

The funded study will include two short glider deployments. A summer 2014 deployment will be used for field-testing, software validation and developing real-world scenarios for the outreach program. A fall deployment will serve as an opportunity for classroom participants to communicate with the glider in real time.

“We hope this one-year program will serve as a springboard for future funding and continued joint outreach by Skidaway Institute and Marine Extension,” said Edwards. “We’d love to develop computer games and apps for tablets and mobile phones that let students fly gliders through even more realistic scenarios based on the measurements we collect in real time.”

The program is being funded through a joint grant from Skidaway Institute, UGA Public Service and Outreach, and the UGA President’s Venture Fund. The UGA President’s Venture Fund is intended to assist with significant funding challenges or opportunities. The fund also supports small programs and projects in amounts typically ranging from $500 to $5,000.

For additional information, contact Catherine Edwards at 912-598-2471 or catherine.edwards@skio.uga.edu; Mary Sweeney-Reeves at 912-598-2350 or msweeney@uga.edu; or Maryellen Timmons at 912-598-2353 or mare@uga.edu.

 

UGA Skidaway Institute participates in Gliderpalooza 2013

September 18, 2013

More than a dozen underwater robotic vehicles called “gliders” will be launched simultaneously this month in a massive, cooperative project involving 10 east coast research institutions, including the University of Georgia Skidaway Institute of Oceanography. Dubbed Gliderpalooza 2013, the fleet of gliders will cruise the waters of the east coast for several weeks, collecting data that could help improve future hurricane forecasts. 

UGA Skidaway Institute scientist Catherine Edwards makes adjustments to the glider “Modena” while R/V Savannah crewman Mickey Baxley assists.

UGA Skidaway Institute scientist Catherine Edwards makes adjustments to the glider “Modena” while R/V Savannah crewman Mickey Baxley assists.

The gliders are torpedo-shaped vehicles, equipped with sensors and recorders to collect observations under all conditions. These autonomous underwater vehicles, or AUVs, move through the water by adjusting their buoyancy and pitch. Because they are highly energy efficient, gliders can remain on a mission for weeks at a time. Every 4 to 6 hours over their mission, they surface, report their data by satellite phone and receive instructions as needed.

According to Skidaway Institute scientist Catherine Edwards, one goal of Gliderpalooza 2013 is to test the feasibility of using a fleet of gliders to work together and to integrate their data—collected in the same time period, but over a wide geographical range.

“Gliders are powerful tools for oceanographers,” Edwards said. “We believe there is great potential to expand the value of them by working together on the deployments and integrating the data each collects.”

Another reason for promoting the use of gliders is their relatively inexpensive cost of operation. Gliders can operate for weeks at a time and in all kinds of weather conditions for a small fraction of the daily coast of an ocean-going research vessel.

“Gliders will never replace ships in oceanography—ship surveys are often the best way to collect data,” Edwards said. “But AUVs require far fewer resources and personnel than shipboard work, and can operate in conditions that would be impossible for traditional ship surveys. For lengthy data-collection missions, a glider can operate for pennies on the dollar by comparison.”

Scientists at Rutgers University are coordinating the project. Computers there will gather the data from the various glider groups, and make it available through a data assembly center for access to and visualization of the data in real time. Glider groups participating in Gliderpalooza will contribute pictures, updates and other notes of interest to scientists and the general public on a blog available at http://maracoos.org/blogs/main/

September was chosen as the month for deployment because many important fish species migrate in that month, and a coordinated experiment can provide a more complete picture of oceanographic conditions and fish populations. September is the most active month for hurricanes, and there is interest in the use of gliders to better understand the effects of major storms on the mixing and transport of heat, nutrients and material.

The Skidaway Institute glider, nicknamed “Modena,” and several others will also be equipped with a special instrument to monitor fish migration. In order to track fish migration, some fisheries biologists tag fish with an acoustic transmitter. The tag-transmitter sends out a sound signal identifying the fish. Typically, receivers on buoys and other stationary platforms monitor these signals. This will be the first time a fleet of moving gliders will be used to monitor fish migration.

Gliderpalooza will also serve as a field test of a new glider navigation system developed by Georgia Tech graduate students, Dongsik Chang, Klimka Szwaykowska and Sungjin Cho, who are supervised by Edwards and Georgia Tech collaborator Fumin Zhang.

Catherine Edwards works on Modena with her team of grad students.

Catherine Edwards works on Modena with her team of grad students.

Gliders can only receive GPS information at the surface. They navigate underwater by dead reckoning, using information on ocean currents from the last leg of their mission. However, the strong tidal currents on the Georgia shelf, combined with the fast-moving Gulf Stream at the shelf edge often exceed a glider’s forward speed. This creates the opportunity for significant navigational errors.

The Glider Environmental Network Information System (GENIoS) is an automated system that optimizes glider navigation based on real time data from ocean models, high frequency radar and measurements from the glider itself. By integrating these data with ocean models, GENIoS provides a more accurate prediction of the currents the glider will navigate through, and chooses the most efficient target waypoints for the glider to aim for as those currents change in space and time.   

During Gliderpalooza, the Skidaway Institute glider will conduct a triangle-shaped mission that includes one leg along the edge of the continental shelf, which also corresponds roughly to the western edge of the Gulf Stream.

“The combination of strong tidal currents and the influence of the Gulf Stream will serve as a strong test of the system,” Edwards said.

The collected glider data will go through NOAA’s National Data Buoy Center to the National Weather Service, the U.S. Navy and other data users for modeling. Data from the glider missions will also be public and available on the Integrated Ocean Observing System Glider Asset Map and at http://www.ndbc.noaa.gov/gliders.pahp.

Funding for Modena’s mission is provided by the UGA Skidaway Institute of Oceanography and the Southeast Coastal Ocean Observing Regional Association.

More information and an ongoing update on the progress of the project are available on the Gliderpalooza 2013 blog at http://maracoos.org/blogs/main/?p=448.

Skidaway Institute completes merger with UGA

July 3, 2013

Skidaway Institute of Oceanography is now a part of the University of Georgia (UGA.)

The merger of the Skidaway Institute of Oceanography with the University of Georgia, effective July 1, was initiated by the Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia as part of Chancellor Hank Huckaby’s efforts to streamline operations and was approved by the board in January. It is expected the new alignment between the institute and the university will enhance the research efforts of both the Skidaway Institute and UGA’s marine and coastal programs.

“This historic merger creates new opportunities in research, instruction and outreach while facilitating collaboration among University System of Georgia institutions,” said UGA President Jere W. Morehead. “I appreciate the vision and leadership of Chancellor Huckaby and the board of regents as well as the dedication of Dr. Libby Morris, Dr. Jim Sanders and the many other university officials who have worked to bring these institutions together.”

A land-grant and sea-grant university with statewide commitments and responsibilities, the University of Georgia, is the state’s oldest, most comprehensive and most diversified institution of higher education. With its main campus in Athens, UGA enrolls a student body of nearly 35,000 students in a wide range of academic disciplines.

The Skidaway Institute is an internationally recognized research institution located on a 700-acre campus on Skidaway Island, 16 miles southeast of Savannah. It was created in 1967 by the Georgia General Assembly and operated as a stand-alone institution for four years before coming under the responsibility of the university system. With the merger, the institute’s executive director, Jim Sanders, now reports to the UGA’s Office of the Provost.

“Combining the intellectual and physical resources of the Skidaway Institute with those of the University of Georgia will strengthen an area of research whose impact extends far beyond the coast,” said Libby Morris, interim senior vice president for academic affairs and provost. “Our students and the state we serve will undoubtedly benefit from the synergies that this merger has created.”

According to Skidaway Institute executive director Jim Sanders, in addition to strengthening pre-existing collaborations with UGA researchers, the merger creates new opportunities for cross-disciplinary research with faculty in units such as the College of Engineering.

“Also, we expect Skidaway Institute to continue to maintain the historically strong relationships with other university system institutions, such as Georgia Tech and Savannah State,” Sanders said.

UGA already has a strong presence on the Skidaway Institute campus. The UGA Marine Extension Service Aquarium provides educational programs for approximately 18,000 students annually. The Marine Extension Service Shellfish Laboratory is also located on the Skidaway campus.

Regents Align Skidaway Institute of Oceanography with UGA

January 9, 2013

Atlanta — January 8, 2013

The Board of Regents approved today aligning the Skidaway Institute of Oceanography (SkIO) with the University of Georgia (UGA).

“The new alignment between the institute and the university will streamline operations and enhance the research efforts of both SkIO and UGA’s excellent marine and coastal programs,” said Houston Davis, the University System’s chief academic officer and executive vice chancellor.

Davis said that the change is part of Chancellor Hank Huckaby’s efforts to streamline the University System of Georgia’s operations. He said that the change will become effective July 1, 2013.

The Institute has 65 employees who conduct cutting-edge oceanographic research on both a regional and global scale. The Institute also provides research-based educational opportunities to students from other University System institutions and from around the world.

The University of Georgia has a staff of about 20 who provide classes for as many as 18,000 students from elementary to high school each year at Skidaway. The university also has a site on Sapelo Island for site-based research and instruction of undergraduate and graduate college students in its marine program.

“In addition to enhancing research conducted by UGA, this change provides a synergistic environment that is sure to benefit both Georgia Tech and Savannah State University who also conduct important coastal research at Skidaway,” added Davis.

The Georgia General Assembly chartered Skidaway in 1967 after philanthropist Robert Roebling donated the land to the state. The Institute operated as a stand-alone institution for four years before coming under the responsibility of the University System.

Glider-robots!

December 19, 2011

We had a real nice story on the front page of this morning’s Savannah Morning News. A big thanks to Mary Landers and her editors!

Skidaway Institute, Georgia Tech-Savannah partner on phytoplankton research

April 18, 2011

Sometimes scientific advances provide answers, and sometimes, they simply present more questions. That is what happened when scientists began using satellite imagery to study the ocean.

When Skidaway Institute of Oceanography scientists Jim Nelson and Catherine Edwards looked at satellite imagery of the ocean off the Carolinas, they noticed persistent blooms of phytoplankton, an important part of the marine food web. These mysterious blooms occurred during the winter along edge of the continental shelf off Long Bay — located between Cape Romain, South Carolina and Cape Fear, North Carolina. Phytoplankton blooms like those observed off Long Bay can provide a considerable boost to the bottom of the food chain, with significant implications for fisheries.

“The immediate cause of the blooms is an input of nutrients, like nitrogen and phosphorous, associated with transport and mixing of deep, cold onto the continental shelf,” said Edwards. “The Long Bay blooms persist for weeks or even months during the winter, suggesting multiple modes of nutrient input.”

Two of the guiding questions are why this feature is so persistent over the winter, and what are the dynamics that sustain this bloom?

Edwards and Nelson are teaming with Harvey Seim from the University of North Carolina and Fumin Zhang from Georgia Tech-Savannah on a project to answer those questions. The project is funded by a $1.6 million grant from the National Science Foundation supporting a team of scientists from all three institutions. With the help of Skidaway Institute research coordinators Trent Moore, Julie Amft and Charles Robertson, the project team will deploy moored and mobile instrument packages and conduct shipboard surveys to test hypotheses of how the winter blooms are formed and sustained.

The team will use some cutting-edge technology that will enhance its ability develop a clear picture of what is happening. This includes instrument packages mounted on moorings; mobile, autonomous “gliders”; underway ship surveys; standard ship-based station sampling; and satellite measurements of sea surface temperature and ocean color.

Skidaway Institute researchers (l-r) Catherine Edwards, Trent Moore, Julie Amft and Jim Nelson examine a glider.

Three moored packages will be deployed to provide continuous measurements of water properties and currents through the winter months. One mooring will be placed at 35 meters of depth, the approximate position of the shoreward edge of the winter bloom.

Two more packages will be placed in approximately 75 and 150 meters of water, with the 75 meter mooring equipped with an instrument package called a SeaHorse. Powered by wave motion, the Seahorse moves up and down its mooring wire, taking measurements throughout the water column. A telemetry system in the surface mooring periodically reports its observations.

The research team will also use another high-tech tool, autonomous underwater vehicles, also called gliders.

Skidaway Institute researchers lower a glider into a tank of water to adjust buoyancy and trim. (l-r) Trent Moore, Dongsik Chang, Charles Robertson and Julie Amft

Two of these torpedo-shaped vehicles, equipped with sensors and recorders, will provide the ability to collect observations under all conditions, including during winter storms when ship operations are not possible. The gliders will survey across the study area, taking and recording measurements as they go. From time to time over the four to five week missions, they will surface, report their data by satellite phone and receive instructions as needed.

The gliders will be controlled from shore with an autonomous glider control system co-developed by Fumin Zhang at Georgia Tech Savannah. Two Georgia Tech-Savannah graduate students, Klimka Szwaykowska and Dongsik Chang, are developing algorithms to optimize the glider sampling given real-time data collected by satellite, the SeaHorse profiler and the gliders themselves.

Catherine Edwards (r) and Dongsik Chang work on the tail of a glider while Klimka Szwaykowska looks on.

Members of the research team will spend much of the winter of 2012 aboard the Skidaway Institute research vessel R/V Savannah, conducting experiments and collecting data.

Armed with a better understanding of the physical processes that “fertilize” the outer shelf and how phytoplankton take advantage of the nutrient input, the research team will be able to answer larger questions about how biology and physics interact in Long Bay.

The project will run for three years.

Skidaway scientist Dana Savidge promoted

July 28, 2010

Skidaway Institute of Oceanography researcher Dana Savidge has been promoted to associate professor.

Dr. Dana Savidge

A physical oceanographer, Savidge joined Skidaway Institute in 2003 as an assistant professor. Savidge studies Gulf Stream variability and ocean circulation, with projects on the continental shelves of Cape Hatteras, Georgia, and Antarctica. One key component of Savidge’s research is a shore-based radar system that measures surface ocean currents as far as 125 miles off the Georgia coast.

Savidge earned her bachelor’s degree in physics from Hanover College (Indiana) and her master’s degree in geophysics from Georgia Tech. Her doctorate in marine sciences is from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Skidaway Institute mourns loss of Professor Peter Verity

January 4, 2010

Skidaway Institute Professor Peter G. Verity died unexpectedly at his home on Thursday, December 31.

Verity was a Professor of Biological Oceanography at Skidaway Institute.  He received his B.A. in 1975 from Dartmouth College, and his M.S. in 1979 and Ph.D. in 1984, both from the University of Rhode Island. He joined the faculty of Skidaway Institute in 1986.

Verity was the author or co-author of more than 100 scientific articles and papers. He was a frequent speaker at professional conferences. His research interests include microzooplankton ecology, feeding interactions among plankton; gelatinous plankton, invasive jellyfish, the role of life cycles in ecosystem function; and the status and future of ocean ecosystems as they respond to increasing climate variability and human perturbations.

Verity was well known in the environmental community for his work on the impact of coastal land use and development upon the environmental quality and ecosystem health of Georgia estuaries. He was a frequent speaker to local civic and environmental groups. He was recently awarded the prestigious Nick Williams Award for Coastal Sustainability by the Center for a Sustainable Coast.

Verity was also a dedicated and passionate teacher who believed that perhaps the most important contribution of his professional career would be the legacy of his teaching and outreach efforts. Verity served on the graduate faculties of Armstrong Atlantic State University, Savannah State University, University of Georgia, and Georgia Institute of Technology, where he taught, advised and mentored graduate and undergraduate students. Verity also served on numerous advisory groups and committees responsible for the development and implementation of science curriculum in the public school system and for the preparation of future teachers. Among his many responsibilities at the Skidaway Institute of Oceanography, Verity was the Institute’s Education Coordinator.

As a person, Peter was uniquely gifted in his ability to inspire and motivate those around him to examine their priorities and to reach valuable realizations about what matters most. He was fun and funny, serious and superfluous, comforting and irritating. He was someone worth knowing and who impacted his family, friends, students, teachers, and colleagues profoundly.

Peter Verity is survived by his loving wife of 21 years, Melanie Elizabeth Mirande, his step-mother, Martha Verity; one sister, Diane Verity, and four half-brothers, Mark Verity, Todd Verity, Bruce Verity and Craig Verity. He will also be missed by many cousins, nieces, nephews, friends, and colleagues.

He was 56 years old.

A memorial service will be held on Saturday, January 9, at 11 a.m.

Asbury Memorial United Methodist Church

1008 East Henry Street

Savannah, GA 31401-7128

(912) 233-4351

A reception will follow.

To make a tax deductible donation in memory of Peter, send gifts to the Peter G. Verity Memorial Fund for Ocean and Environmental Research, Education and Scholarship.

Make checks out to “Skidaway Marine Science Foundation” and indicate “Verity Fund” on the memo line.

Mail to:

Skidaway Marine Science Foundation—Verity Fund

10 Ocean Science Circle

Savannah, GA 31411

To view or leave comments for the family, visit this site.

Skidaway Institute awarded NSF grants

August 26, 2009

The Skidaway Institute of Oceanography has received two research grants from the National Science Foundation totaling more than $761,000. The awards are being funded under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.

Dr. Marc Frischer

Dr. Marc Frischer

The first grant for $356,139 was awarded to Skidaway Institute scientist Marc Frischer to investigate how a warming climate will affect the food web dynamics in the Arctic Ocean.

“We are most appreciative to the National Science Foundation for funding this significant research,” said Skidaway Institute Director James Sanders. “A warming climate is causing significant changes in the Arctic marine environment, including reduced sea ice and increased terrestrial discharge from rivers of nutrients such as carbon and nitrogen. It is very important that we understand the way these changes will affect food web dynamics and, ultimately, the entire Arctic marine ecosystem.”

Frischer will work with collaborators Deborah Bronk from the Virginia Institute of Marine Science and Patricia Yager from the University of Georgia Research Foundation on the project.

Dr. Elizabeth Mann

Dr. Elizabeth Mann

The second grant for $404,833 was awarded to Elizabeth Mann of Skidaway Institute, along with collaborators Eric Stabb of the University of Georgia and Hongwei Wu of Georgia Tech. They will investigate the way some marine bacteria obtain and utilize the key nutrient iron in environments where this metal is scarce.

According to Mann, it is important to understand how organisms produce the compounds that help keep iron in solution in the surface ocean. Iron is a key nutrient for the growth of microscopic algae, known as phytoplankton, which absorb large amounts of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

“In many areas of the world’s ocean, iron concentrations are so low that phytoplankton growth is reduced,” Mann said. “An increase in iron availability will lead to the removal of more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere through photosynthesis.”