Our computational research (data analysis, remote sensing, and numerical modeling) tackles a wide range of interdisciplinary ocean and environmental science questions at the intersection of physics, chemistry, biology, and people. A particular focus is on natural and human-driven climate change and environmental impacts. The research spans from the open-ocean to the coasts and adjoining watersheds and from the shores of New England and the Virginia Eastern Shore to the Antarctic and Arctic (for details on specific projects download a pdf file
UVA Environmental Resilience Institute (ERI) https://eri.virginia.edu/
The UVA Environmental Resilience Institute is a new pan-university effort bringing together folks from natural and social science, engineering, architecture, and humanities to solve some of the toughest environmental problems. Our group focus within the ERI is primarily on coastal and climate resilience, climate restoration, and linkages of water, food, energy and carbon cycles.
Carbon removal approaches (negative carbon technologies)
We are part of a collaboration at UVA with folks in engineering and policy/economics to explore the potential impacts of carbon removal approaches (e.g., bioenergy with carbon capture and sequestration; direct air capture). The work involves combining natural and social sciences utilizing as a framework an integrated assessment model of energy, technology, agriculture, and water systems.
Center for Chemical Currencies of a Microbial Planet (C-CoMP) https://ccomp-stc.org/
A new, multi-institutional project examining chemical-microbial networks and the fate of labile organic molecules in the surface ocean. In addition to oceanography, the overall project spans from biochemistry and organic chemistry to system biology, molecular biology and bioinformatics with components in the lab, field, and informatics. The UVA component focuses primarily on numerical modeling to connect molecular and cellular scale dynamics to larger marine biogeochemical processes and climate change.
Virginia Coastal Reserve (VCR) LTER https://www.vcrlter.virginia.edu/home2/
The Virginia Coastal LTER program is based on the VA Eastern Shore and led by UVA Environmental Science faculty with collaborators across the region. We are spinning-up a research program on water-column modeling, data synthesis, satellite and drone remote sensing, and field measurements (e.g., nutrient dynamics; oxygen; inorganic carbon system and acidification; ocean color, plankton, and water clarity).
Arctic and Gulf of Alaska biogeochemistry and carbon cycle
Our group is collaborating with scientists at the U. Alaska, Fairbanks on numerical models of the Gulf of Alaska and Arctic, focusing on how the regional ocean carbon system is impacted by changing climate, reduced sea-ice, altered freshwater input from land, and rising atmospheric CO2.
Palmer, Antarctic LTER (Long Term Ecological Research): http://pal.lternet.edu
The Palmer LTER program explores the ecological impacts of changing climate and sea-ice along the Antarctic Peninsula. The program has generated a rich marine ecological and biogeochemical dataset from plankton to penguins and whales over nearly three decades, with ship-based data and more recently mooring and robotic glider data and satellite remote sensing. Our group leads an active research component leveraging food-web, biogeochemical, and regional ocean-ice biophysical synthesis, modeling and remote sensing to address the program’s overarching science questions.
Ocean Carbon Observatory (OCO-2 & OCO-3)
We have a funded project to analyze and model data from the NASA OCO-2 & OCO-3 instruments, which measure the atmosphere column carbon dioxide (CO2) concentration. The objective of the OCO-2 and OCO-3 missions is to improve estimates of CO2 sources and sinks to the atmosphere including fossil fuel emissions and exchange with the land and ocean.
Linking marine fisheries and ecosystems
We are collaborating with folks in the UVA economics department to characterize the impact of marine fisheries on large-scale ecosystems. This is a “big-data” project combining ship-transponder data (fishing locations, intensity) with satellite ocean color. This work opens up many avenues for future study on coupled human-natural systems for the marine environment.
Ocean transient tracers
We are analyzing historical data and developing model simulations on tritium and helium isotopes (measures of ocean ventilation and circulation pathways) to better understand nutrient and oxygen dynamics. There is lots more to do on this project involving analysis of a new global data compilation and model simulations.
Standing, on-going research areas
We have a long-term interest in many aspects of ocean acidification from biogeochemistry and microbes to fisheries and socio-economics. One example is modeling studies of the US Northeast scallop fishery that link together water chemistry, scallop population dynamics, fishery operations, and physical and socio-economic drivers (e.g. climate change and acidification; human population and seafood demand; fuel prices).
Community Earth System Model (CESM) http://www.cesm.ucar.edu/
We have a long-standing involvement with the Earth system modeling and the ocean and biogeochemistry components of the CESM. Research opportunities span from development and testing of new model parameterizations (e.g. marine ecosystem plankton dynamics; zooplankton migration; etc.) to analysis of the existing model simulations.
Recently completed projects
North Atlantic Aerosols and Marine Ecosystems Study (NAAMES) https://naames.larc.nasa.gov/
Our group led a marine ecosystem and biogeochemical modeling component of NASA funded NAAMES project, which aimed to better understand the controls on ocean ecosystem dynamics over the annual cycle as well as ecosystem controls on biogenic aerosols in the marine troposphere. NAAMES completed four field campaigns combining ship-based, autonomous float, and airborne sampling. Our group is still involved in: 1) using NAAMES data to evaluate existing regional and global models, and 2) integrating field data, remote sensing, and numerical simulations to constrain plankton bloom dynamics.
Coastal Climate Change, Water Quality & Ocean Acidification
We completed a field project working on Buzzards Bay, MA with a NGO-based citizen scientist program. There are still considerable opportunities for data analysis and modeling of water quality and its impacts (e.g., nutrient eutrophication, hypoxia, ocean acidification, water clarity, recreational shell-fishing and aquaculture). Recent projects include regional ocean warming, remote sensing of water clarity, drivers of shell-fishing trends, and acidification from freshwater inputs, eutrophication, and sewage discharge.
Marine Biodiversity Observation Network (MBON)
We were part of a large, multi-institutional effort trying to dramatically change how we observe the ocean and then use the wealth of new data to inform marine resource management and conservation.