Monthly Archives: August 2017

New Postdoc Opportunity in Ocean Tracer Modeling

The Department of Environmental Sciences at the University of Virginia (UVA) seeks a Research Associate to contribute to computational research on ocean tritium and helium isotope distributions in the framework of the Community Earth System Model. The research associate will work directly with Scott Doney in the Department of Environmental Sciences.

The candidate must have experience with ocean circulation modeling, data analysis and visualization. Prior experience with ocean transient tracers, marine biogeochemistry, and the Community Earth System Model or similar global model is preferred. Strong skills in verbal and written communication of scientific results, ability to work both independently and collaboratively as a member of interdisciplinary teams, and ability to organize, prioritize, and coordinate multiple tasks are required skills.

Appointment is for one year with possibility of a renewal for one additional year, contingent upon satisfactory performance and funding. The completion of a Ph.D. in oceanography or related field is required by appointment start date. The anticipated start date will be in October 2017.

To apply, complete a Candidate Profile through Jobs@UVa ( and electronically attach the following: a cover letter describing research experience, interests, and experience with interdisciplinary teams; a curriculum vitae; and contact information for three (3) references. Search on posting number 0621409.

Review of applications will begin August 19, 2017. However, the position will remain open until filled.

Questions regarding this position should be directed to:
Scott Doney

Questions regarding the Candidate Profile process or Jobs@UVa should be directed to:
Rachel Short

The University will perform background checks on all new hires prior to making a final offer of employment.

The University of Virginia is an equal opportunity/affirmative action employer. Women, minorities, veterans and persons with disabilities are encouraged to apply.

Welcome new postdocs: Dr. Eveleth & Dr. Kim

Two new postdoctoral research associates, Dr. Rachel Eveleth (Duke) and Dr. Hyewon Kim (Columbia), are joining the Computational Biogeochemistry Group in UVA Environmental Sciences this month. They will bring their ocean biogeochemistry research expertise to bear on science questions in the Palmer LTER and NASA NAAMES projects.

After completing her PhD in Earth and Ocean Sciences at Duke University (advisor: Prof. Nicolas Cassar), Dr. Eveleth returned to her alma matter, Bowdoin College, for a year as a Visiting Assistant Professor, before moving to UVA as a Postdoctoral Research Associate. She is interested in bio-physical coupling and it’s impact on carbon cycling, especially in the rapidly changing high-latitude oceans. Her previous work focused on the use of dissolved gas tracers (O2, Ar and pCO2) which capture biological and physical processes at high resolution in the surface ocean. During her postdoc, she will use modeling and remote sensing approaches to expand the spatial and temporal scale of my research questions. She is particularly interested in the role of sea ice variability (ice type, thickness, retreat mechanism etc.) in controlling bloom timing and carbon export along the Western Antarctic Peninsula and in other ice influenced regions. She will also explore links between plankton bloom dynamics and biogeochemistry in subpolar and polar regions. In future years she additionally hope to branch into geoscience education research and continue teaching undergraduates.

Dr. Kim holds a Ph.D. in Earth and Environmental Sciences from Columbia University & Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory (advisor: Prof. Hugh Ducklow). Her research aims to gain a better understanding of how ocean microbial and biogeochemical processes are influenced by large-scale climate dynamics through mediatory local-scale physical forcings. Since 2013 she has been involved in the Palmer Long-Term Ecological Research (LTER) program where she has worked on various projects regarding climate-biogeochemical coupling using a diverse spectrum of mathematical/statistical approaches and modeling. Here at UVA, she will be woking on implementing a time-evolving conceptual ecosystem model to the coastal West Antarctic Peninsula to explore the variability of microbially-mediated carbon flows and their relation to climate/physical variability along the peninsula. Besides her research, she is also very passionate about teaching and mentoring students who are interested in general earth and ocean sciences as well as climate sciences in polar regions in both formal and informal settings.

Climate Change on the Antarctic Peninsula

Originally posted on UVA Lifetime Learning blog, August 1st, 2017

Scott Doney

When I tell people that I study the Antarctic Ocean, they likely envision intrepid scientists trekking off to explore towering glaciers, vistas covered with sea-ice and icebergs, vast penguin colonies, and pods of feeding humpback whales. All of which is true for the science team of the Palmer Long Term Ecological Research (LTER) program, which I was fortunate to join about a decade ago. What people probably do not think about is that the rapidly warming Antarctic Peninsula is also an excellent natural laboratory for studying climate change and its impact on marine life.

The Antarctic Peninsula juts out from the main continent towards South America, much like a thumb from a closed fist. The climate on the peninsula is milder and warmer than the main continent, and open water is found in coastal regions during late spring and summer on the western side of the Peninsula as the seasonal sea-ice cover melts or is blown out to sea. The combination of long summer days, shallow ocean, mixed layers from the freshwater added from sea-ice and glacial melt, and nutrient-rich waters leads to intense summer phytoplankton blooms. These blooms, in turn, support large populations of krill, small crustaceans related to shrimp that thrive along the ice edge. Krill are a favorite abundant and reliable food supply for Adélie penguins that establish summer breeding colonies each year on coastal islands and humpback and other baleen whales that migrate to the Antarctic Peninsula to feed during the summer.

Climate conditions on the northern part of the Peninsula are changing rapidly: both the ocean and atmosphere are warming at rates as fast as anywhere on the planet; the amount of time each year with sea-ice cover is declining; and about 90% of the continental glaciers are retreating. These physical changes echo throughout the marine food-web. The most intense phytoplankton blooms are occurring further south along the peninsula, and krill populations appear to be dropping near the northern tip of the peninsula. Adélie penguins are adapted to a life in polar conditions with abundant sea-ice, and in some locations along the peninsula Adélies are disappearing, being replaced by other penguin species like Gentoo and Chinstraps that like warmer and more ice-free conditions.

The Palmer LTER team has been monitoring these changes along Antarctic Peninsula routinely since the early 1990s, with some historical data extending back even earlier. Every austral spring, students, technicians, and scientists from the team head to the southern tip of Chile for the four-day trip to Antarctica Peninsula on a small research vessel across the notoriously stormy Drake Passage. Based out of the U.S. Palmer Station on the western side of the Antarctic Peninsula, team members use small Zodiac inflatable boats to sample nearby waters for changing seawater chemistry, plankton and krill, and survey local penguin breeding colonies. Over the past several years, high-tech robotic ocean gliders and airborne drones have been added to expand our geographic coverage. During the height of the summer, the team also conducts a month-long ocean research expedition on the same ship used to transit from Chile. Traveling south from Palmer Station towards the pole, the research ship surveys other penguin colonies and ocean conditions from near the shore out to deep-water over a several hundred kilometer stretch of the peninsula.

My role on the Palmer team is to bring some sense to this wealth of ocean physical, chemical and biological field data using numerical models, satellite remote sensing, and (big) data science. Although much of my time is spent sitting in front of a computer screen, I travel down to Antarctic every few years, and the chance to visit the Antarctic and view penguins and whales in a spectacular polar environment is a big draw for many students in my group. So too, of course, is the challenge of understanding the impact of climate change on the invaluable Antarctic Ocean ecosystem and to learn lessons that may be applicable to other ocean regions closer to home.

For more information on Antarctic Ocean research see the Palmer LTER website:

To get a glimpse of what life is like on a Palmer LTER research expedition see the feature-length film produced by Rutgers University students, Antarctic Edge: 70 degrees South:

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Moving to UVA

It’s probably not news that I’m moving to UVA this Fall if you found this website. This is an exciting opportunity to expand my scientific, educational and professional horizons, and I am greatly looking forward to meeting UVA students, teaching classes, building a new research group, and connecting with people across UVA grounds.