Skidaway Institute of Oceanography
Research About US Education Faculty Publications R/V Savannah
Aron Stubbins

Dr. Aron Stubbins
Associate Professor
Skidaway Institute of Oceanography
10 Ocean Science Circle
Savannah, Georgia 31411
Telephone: (912) 598-2320
Fax: (912) 598-2310

B.Sc. in Marine Biology with Honours, Newcastle University, UK, 1998
Ph.D. in Marine Biogeochemistry, Newcastle University, UK, 2001

Editorial Appointments:
Associate Editor of Estuarine and Coastal Shelf Science
Associate Editor Journal of Geophysical Research: Biogeosciences

If you are interested in undergraduate intern, graduate student or postdoc positions within the Stubbins laboratory, please contact email

Local Pages:
Glaciers: A window into man’s impact upon the global carbon cycle
Dissolved Black Carbon
Marsh Carbon Cycling
Pulse Shunt Concept of River Carbon Cycling

Published Videos:
The Pulse Shunt Concept: Collaborator Pete Raymond talks on River Carbon
Fire in the Ocean: Collaborator Thorsten Dittmar on Black Carbon
Groves Creek, Skidaway Island, December 2013

In the news:
26 hours on the marsh (About UGA)
26 hours on the marsh (Connect SAV)
Black Carbon Mobilization
Biogeochemistry: Ancient organics reign on glaciers
Scientists Unlock Record of Ecosystem Changes Frozen in World's Glaciers
Manmade carbon may be affecting ocean food web

 Research Interests and Projects 

Research Interest

Our group studies an integral component of the global carbon cycle, dissolved organic matter (DOM). All forms of life release DOM, sometimes on purpose, sometimes as waste. DOM lost from one organism provides sustenance to others, including microorganisms at the base of the aquatic foodwebs that fuel our fisheries. DOM cycling also redistributes carbon between land, ocean and atmospheric stores. Rivers carry vast amounts of DOM from land to the ocean. The amount of carbon stored in the ocean as DOM is equivalent in magnitude to the carbon dioxide pool in the Earth’s atmosphere. Consequently, processes that alter how carbon is distributed between the ocean DOM pool and the atmospheric carbon dioxide pool can alter global climate as well as impacting ocean ecosystems.

The complexity of DOM chemistry and its biogeochemical roles make DOM incredibly rewarding to study. DOM contains thousands, if not millions or trillions, of different molecules. Each derived from a living organism and subsequently altered in the environment. On mass these molecules provide a suite of tracers carrying the signatures of each molecule’s source and subsequent history in the environment. Decoding these signatures is casting new light upon the biogeochemical cycles of the planet. Follow the links at the top of the page, and to our projects and papers below to learn more about DOM biogeochemistry from the deepest regions of the ocean, where hydrothermal vents are hotspots of DOM cycling, to glaciers and permafrost soils on the Tibetan Plateau, the very top of the world.

Current and Recent Projects:

2015-2016 Chinese Academy of Science President’s International Fellowship Initiative. Dissolved Organic Matter Compositions of the Everest Ice Core. Sole PI. ~$10,000 for travel and fieldwork associated with time in Beijing and on the Tibetan Plateau.

2015-2018 NSF: DEB. Collaborative Research: Linking microbial diversity, gene expression, and the transformation of terrestrial organic matter in major U.S. rivers. Byron Crump (Oregon State University), Peter Raymond (Yale), George Aiken (USGS), A. Stubbins (SkIO, UGA).

2014 German Research Foundation (DFG): Support to attend “Geo-metabolomics: first steps towards a systems biology understanding of organic matter cycling in aquatic systems” workshop as a group discussion leader, Delmenhorst, Germany.

2014 Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation: Support to organize and steer the “Linking microbes and DOM” workshop, New York.

2014 Microsoft Research Division: Support for Biogeochemistry Data System (BGC-DS) development and Alaskan fieldwork.

2014-2019   NSF: Macrosystems Biology. Collaborative Research: RUI: The Pulse-Shunt Concept: A conceptual framework for quantifying and forecasting watershed DOM fluxes and transformations at the MacroSystem scale.

2014-2017   NSF: Biological Oceanography. Collaborative Research: Marine priming effect - molecular mechanisms for the biomineralization of terrigenous dissolved organic matter in the ocean.

2013   Microsoft Research Division: Support for Biogeochemistry Data System (BGC-DS) development and Alaskan fieldwork.

2012-2015   NSF: Chemical Oceanography. Tempo and mode of saltmarsh exchange.

2012-2014   NSF: Division of Environmental Biology. Collaborative research: Is the export of ancient, labile carbon from glacial ecosystems driven by the deposition of fossil fuel combustion byproducts?

2010-2013   Hanse-Wissenschaftkolleg Marine and Climate Research Fellowship. Isolation, sources, and fate of black carbon in the ocean.

2013   Microsoft Research Division: Support for 3rd Biogeochemistry Data System (BGC-DS) workshop and development.

2013   ASLO: Emerging Issues Workshop at the 2013 Aquatic Sciences meeting. Title: Linking Optical and Chemical Properties of Dissolved Organic Matter in Natural Waters.

2009-2012   NSF: Chemical Oceanography. Development of a high-precision TOC analyzer with a nM detection limit.

2012   Alfred Wegener Institute proposal granted to join FS Polarstern cruise to Fram Strait to assess quantity and quality of organic matter exchanged between Arctic and Atlantic Oceans.

2012   Microsoft Research Division: Support for 2nd Biogeochemistry Data System (BGC-DS) workshop and development.

2009-2011   DOE-SBIR (Topic 26-d) Phase II. A Novel Low Cost, High Efficiency, Algal Biomass Harvest and Dewatering Technology for Biodiesel Production.

2007-2011   NSF: Chemical Oceanography. Collaborative Research: Comprehensive Chemical Characterization of Marine Dissolved Organic Matter using Efficient Isolation Coupled to Advanced Analytical Techniques.

 Selected Publications 
Moran, M. A., E. B. Kujawinski, A. Stubbins, R. Fatland, L. I. Aluwihare, A. Buchan, B. C. Crump, P. C. Dorrestein, S. T. Dyhrman, N. J. Hess, B. Howe, K. Longnecker, P. M. Medeiros, J. Niggemann, I. Obernosterer, D. J. Repeta, and J. R. Waldbauer. 2016. Deciphering ocean carbon in a changing world. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 113(12): 3143-3151. doi:10.1073/pnas.1514645113
Hawkes, J. A., P. E. Rossel, A. Stubbins, D. Butterfield, D. P. Connelly, E. P. Achterberg, A. Koschinsky, V. Chavagnac, C. T. Hansen, W. Bach, and T. Dittmar. 2015. Efficient removal of recalcitrant deep-ocean dissolved organic matter during hydrothermal circulation. Nature Geoscience 8:856-860. doi: 10.1038/ngeo2543
Mopper, K., D. Kieber, and A. Stubbins. 2015. Marine photochemistry of organic matter: processes and impacts. In Biogeochemistry of Marine Dissolved Organic Matter (Second Edition), ed. Dennis A. Hansell, and Craig A. Carlson, 389-450. Academic Press, Burlington. doi: 10.1016/B978-0-12-405940-5.00008-X
Spencer, R. G. M., P. J. Mann, T. Dittmar, T. I. Eglinton, C. McIntyre, R. M. Holmes, N. Zimov, and A. Stubbins. 2015. Detecting the signature of permafrost thaw in Arctic rivers. Geophysical Research Letters 42(8): 2830-2835. doi: 10.1002/2015GL063498
Stubbins, A., and T. Dittmar. 2015. Illuminating the deep: Molecular signatures of photochemical alteration of dissolved organic matter from North Atlantic Deep Water. Marine Chemistry 177, Part 2: 318-324. doi: 10.1016/j.marchem.2015.06.020
Stubbins, A., R. Spencer, P. J. Mann, R. M. Holmes, J. McClelland, J. Niggemann, and T. Dittmar. 2015. Utilizing colored dissolved organic matter to derive dissolved black carbon export by Arctic rivers. Frontiers in Earth Science 3:63. doi: 10.3389/feart.2015.00063
Dittmar, T., and A. Stubbins. 2014. Dissolved organic matter in aquatic systems. In Treatise on geochemistry, ed. H. D. Holland, and K. K. Turekian, 25-156. Oxford: Elsevier. doi: 10.1016/B978-0-08-095975-7.01010-X
Stubbins, A., J. -F. Lapierre, M. Berggren, Y. Prairie, T. Dittmar, and P. del Giorgio. 2014. What’s in an EEM? Molecular signatures associated with dissolved organic fluorescence in boreal Canada. Environmental Science and Technology 8(18): 10598-10606. doi: 10.1021/es502086e
Jaffé, R., Y. Ding, J. Niggemann, A. V. Vähätalo, A. Stubbins, R. G. M. Spencer, J. Campbell, and T. Dittmar. 2013. Global charcoal mobilization from soils via dissolution and riverine transport to the oceans. Science 340 (6130): 345-347. doi: 10.1126/science.1231476
Stubbins, A., E. Hood, P. A. Raymond, G. R. Aiken, R. L. Sleighter, P. J. Hernes, D. Butman, P. G. Hatcher, R. G. Striegl, P. Schuster, H. A. N. Abdulla, A. W. Vermilyea, D. T. Scott, and R. G. M. Spencer. 2012. Anthropogenic aerosols as a source of ancient dissolved organic matter to glaciers. Nature Geoscience 5:198-201. doi: 10.1038/ngeo1403

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