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News Headlines
Posted:
7/21/2016
Author:
mikesullivan
Description:

 Scientists at the University of Georgia Skidaway Institute of Oceanography have received a $527,000 grant from the National Science Foundation Chemical Oceanography Program to answer one of the long-standing questions about carbon in the ocean—the rate sunlight produces carbon dioxide from organic carbon molecules in the sea.

Researchers Aron Stubbins (l) and Jay Brandes

Jay Brandes, Leanne Powers and Aron Stubbins will use a new technique they developed to measure this process, which is known as photo-degradation.

The ocean is full of millions of different types of organic compounds. Some are consumed by bacteria, but many are not easily consumed and remain in the ocean for hundreds or thousands of years. However, near the surface, sunlight causes the breakdown of organic compounds and converts them into carbon dioxide through photo-degradation. Until recently, this process has been nearly impossible to measure directly in most of the ocean because the additional carbon dioxide produced per day is tiny compared to the existing high concentration of CO2 present in the sea.

Brandes described the problem as looking for a needle in a haystack.

“You might think this is not important because it is hard to measure, but that’s not true,” he said. “We’re talking about a process that takes place across the whole ocean. When you integrate that over such a vast area, it becomes a potentially very important process.”

Researcher Leanne Powers

The project became possible when the team developed a new technique to measure the change in CO2 concentration in a seawater sample. The concept was the brainchild of Powers, a Skidaway Institute post-doctoral research associate. The technique uses carbon 13, a rare, stable isotope of carbon that contains an extra neutron in its nucleus. Researchers will add a carbon 13 compound to a sample of seawater and then bombard the sample with light. The scientists will then use an instrument known as an isotope ratio mass spectrometer to measure the changes in CO2 concentration. 

According to Brandes, this project will be breaking new ground in the field of chemical oceanography.

“We don’t know what the photo-degradation rates are in most of the ocean,” he said. “We are going to establish the first numbers for that.”

The team plans to take samples off the Georgia coast, as well as from Bermuda and Hawaii.

While they will continue to refine the carbon 13 technique, Brandes said it is now time to put that tool to work.

“It is now a matter of establishing what the numbers are in these different locations and trying to develop a global budget,” he said. “Just how much dissolved organic carbon is removed and converted to CO2 every year?”

The project is funded for three years. The team will also create an aquarium exhibit at the UGA Aquarium on the Skidaway Island campus to help student groups and the public understand river and ocean color. 

Tools:
Posted:
7/6/2016
Author:
mikesullivan
Description:

 The soil in the Arctic holds a massive store of carbon. These remnants of plants and animals that lived tens of thousands of years ago have been locked in permafost, soil that is always frozen…until now. 

UGA Skidaway Institute of Oceanography scientist Aron Stubbins is part of a team that travelled to Siberia to discover what happens to that carbon when the permafrost thaws.

 https://youtu.be/ahoo3qeyBmY

Tools:
Posted:
7/1/2016
Author:
mikesullivan
Description:

 University of Georgia Skidaway Institute of Oceanography researcher Catherine Edwards is leading a team that has received a five-year, $750,000 grant from the Southeast Coastal Ocean Observing Regional Association, or SECOORA, to establish a regional glider network.

 UGA Skidaway Institute of Oceanography researcher Catherine Edwards assembles the tail cone assembly of a glider. 

Also known as autonomous underwater vehicles, the gliders are torpedo-shaped crafts that can be packed with sensors and sent on underwater missions to collect oceanographic data. Equipped with satellite phones, the gliders surface periodically to transmit their recorded data and to receive new instructions during missions that can last from weeks to months.

The team will work collaboratively to operate regular glider missions on the continental shelf in an area from North Carolina to Florida known as the South Atlantic Bight. Regular coordinated experiments will involve simultaneous deployment of gliders at multiple locations off Florida, Georgia and North Carolina. Sensors on the gliders will allow the team to map temperature, salinity, density, dissolved oxygen and other scientific data over the entire South Atlantic Bight. The data will help scientists understand ocean processes and how the ocean physics may affect fisheries—for example, the location of fronts or areas of increased productivity where fish often congregate. 

“This glider observatory is the first time regular glider efforts have been funded in the South Atlantic Bight and is complementary to larger SECOORA efforts in observing and modeling,” Edwards said. “The work is highly leveraged by contributions from each of the team members and partnerships with fisheries and observing groups at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and NASA.” 

Edwards and her team have designed the deployments with input from fisheries management partners and interests of commercial and recreational fisheries. Gliders will also be outfitted with passive and active acoustics receivers that will record sound and measure signals from tagged fish.   Fisheries managers at Gray’s Reef National Marine Sanctuary, state Department of Natural Resources offices, the South Atlantic Fisheries Management Council and others will be able use this information to better understand the ocean “soundscape,” fish migrations and key species use of their habitat. 

“The glider missions will contribute important information related to research underway at Gray’s Reef,” said Sarah Fangman, superintendent of Gray’s Reef National Marine Sanctuary. “We have been studying fish movement patterns inside the sanctuary, and the gliders’ acoustic receivers will provide a valuable new tool to expand where we can observe fish movements.”

In addition to regular coordinated experiments with multiple gliders and maximum regional coverage, the project will leverage opportunities to develop regular transects in areas where glider data may be of interest, for example near marine protected areas like Gray’s Reef National Marine Sanctuary and other critical habitat zones designated by the South Atlantic Fisheries Management Council.

The glider data will provide valuable information for validation of ocean models—regional models of ocean circulation funded by SECOORA as well as the larger modeling community. Further, the data will be packaged and used to improve ocean model forecasts.

“We’re sending all of the glider data to the National Glider Data Assembly Center as it comes in so that it can be assimilated into the U.S. Navy’s operational models,” Edwards said. “The gliders will improve Navy forecasts on the fly with real time data.”

The remainder of the research team includes Chad Lembke from the University of South Florida, Ruoying He from North Carolina State University, Harvey Seim from the University of North Carolina and Fumin Zhang from the Georgia Institute of Technology.

Data and maps from the project will be shared freely and made available to the research community, fisheries managers and other stakeholders and the general public in near-real time through SECOORA at http://secoora.org/ and the National Data Buoy Center.

 

Tools:

Upcoming Event
What:
SkIO Seminar: Le monde du silence? Acoustic ecology of estuaries in the southeast U.S.
Who:
Dr. Damon Gannon, Academic Professional, University of Georgia Marine Institute, Sapelo Island, GA
When:
8/5/2016 11:00 am
Where:
John F. McGowan Library Auditorium, Skidaway Institute of Oceanography
Type:
Public
Description:

Sound production is common among teleost fishes, having evolved independently in several different taxa. Soniferous species are particularly common in coastal waters of the southeast U.S.  Sound production provides an opportunity to study spawning behavior, habitat selection, population biology, and predator-prey dynamics using noninvasive observational and experimental techniques. In this seminar, I will discuss the evolutionary, physiological, behavioral, and ecological aspects of sound production, and demonstrate how passive acoustic survey methods can be used to supplement traditional methods of fishery stock assessment.

Tools:

Publications
Kujawinski, E. B., M. A. Moran, A. Stubbins, and R. Fatland. 2016. The ocean microbiome: Metabolic engine of the marine carbon cycle: Sea-surface microorganisms fix carbon dioxide, fueling a dynamic community of heterotrophic bacteria at the surface and in the depths of the ocean. Microbe 11(6): 262-267. doi: 10.1128/microbe.11.262.1
Hansel, C. M., C. Buchwald, J. M. Diaz, J. E. Ossolinski, S. T. Dyhrman, B. A. S. Van Mooy, and D. Polyviou. 2016. Dynamics of extracellular superoxide production by Trichodesmium colonies from the Sargasso Sea. Limnology and Oceanography (pagination pending). doi:10.1002/lno.10266
Hawkes, A. D., A. C. Kemp, J. P. Donnelly, B. P. Horton, W. R. Peltier, N. Cahill, D. F. Hill, E. Ashe, and C. R. Alexander. 2016. Relative sea-level change in northeastern Florida (USA) during the last ~8.0 ka. Quaternary Science Reviews 142:90-101. doi: 10.1016/j.quascirev.2016.04.016
Paffenhöfer, G. -A., and H. Jiang. 2016. On phytoplankton perception by calanoid copepods. Limnology and Oceanography (pagination pending). doi: 10.1002/lno.10294
Schaffner, L. C., T. W. Hartley, and J. G. Sanders. 2016. Moving forward: 21st century pathways to strengthen the ocean science workforce through graduate education and professional development. Oceanography 29(1): 36-43. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.5670/oceanog.2016.09
 
 
 
 
 
 
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