Ice sheets have gone through periods of rapid melting, causing sea level to rise many times faster than the current rate of rise. Some of these rapid melting events have occurred during periods when ocean and atmospheric temperatures were at or just above modern temperatures. It is thought that there are instabilities intrinsic in the dynamics of ice sheet flow and melting that may cause such rapid sea level rise events, even without changing climate.
The recently completed resource assessment for ocean current energy (Haas et al. 2013) utilized fairly simplistic analytical methods to estimate the extractable energy from the Gulf Stream System as well as to analyze the relative impacts of large scale energy extraction. This level of analysis can be considered to be accurate to an order of magnitude and only provides an idea on the overall trends of the impacts of extraction. Much higher resolution modeling is required to accurately determine the overall impacts of extraction for both localized and far field effects.
Single-celled marine algae are especially chemically rich, producing toxins that kill fish, marine mammals, and seabirds, contaminate shellfish, and threaten human health. Many predators of these algae – copepods – selectively consume less toxic algae, which in turn sense copepods via an excreted blend of copepod-specific molecules. These algae then become up to 20X more toxic when they sense copepod cues in the open ocean.
The effects of climate change on the coastal ocean include a decrease in riverine inputs and increase in salinity in estuaries with impacts on primary production, macrofauna, and sediment biogeochemistry that are poorly understood. One clear effect of the increase in salinity associated with the decrease in riverine discharge, however, is the enhanced coagulation of inorganic material further upriver. Flocculation of particulate material upriver will enhance its flux to the sediment and simultaneously decrease the outflux of particulate material to the continental shelf.
The urbanization of the coast is generating significant environmental issues, including increasing nutrient runoff that promotes eutrophication and hypoxic conditions in estuaries. At the same time, the excessive input of nutrients is also responsible for an increase acidification of coastal waters, as denitrification in sediments typically generates acidity.
Creating sustainable and resilient cities depends on understanding the properties of food, energy, water and other infrastructure networks. Ecological network analysis ENA is a tool that can be used to understand the connections between network structure, material and energy flow, and resilience. ENA is increasingly applied to both understand and design more sustainable and resilient human infrastructure.
This study seeks to develop a location independent scalable framework for Community based Sustainable Coastal Area Resilience Planning (C-SCARP).
The data-driven framework is adaptable to other locations and/or scales in the future. The proposed C-SCARP framework will make use of an adapted and expanded version of the GoldSET suite of decision support tools that incorporates multi-criteria analysis in a sustainability evaluation framework. Three distinct uses of GoldSET are anticipated:
In coastal areas, data are very sparsely available for flow and wave conditions during storm events due, in part, to the logistical challenge of deploying instruments in such conditions. The questions proposed are centered around the strength and consequences of the flow conditions during storm events and the influence of vegetation on mitigating the effects.
CO2 emission will continue exaggerating, as fossil fuels will most likely remain the major source of energy in next couple decades. The increased carbon in the atmosphere moves into marine ecosystems, making the world’s oceans more acidic. The rate of ocean acidification (OA) today is faster than any time in the past 300 million years.
Native microbial communities (microbiomes) of the vertebrate gut exert vital effects on host ecology, physiology, and evolution. This project explores the potential that the gut microbiome of herbivorous fish plays a vital role in biochemically degrading algal toxins consumed by the host fish, and therefore structuring diet choice and ecology. The student will work jointly between the labs of Drs. Mark Hay and Frank Stewart to test this broad hypothesis, likely focusing on the microbiomes of specific coral reef herbivores.