Ann Bucklin (Professor of Marine Sciences) participated in a research cruise aboard the R/V Henry B. Bigelow exploring the deep layers of the North Atlantic Slope Water with oceanographers and engineers from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and National Marine Fisheries Service. The expedition during August 10-21, 2018 was the inaugural cruise of the Ocean Twilight Zone initiative (OTZ, see https://twilightzone.whoi.edu/), a 6-year, $35 million effort that is using innovative technologies to document the ocean’s mysterious midwater layer. A combination of sonars, cameras, and sampling systems was used to try to quantify how many and what kind of animals live in this dimly-lit swath of ocean hundreds of meters below the surface. They found an abundance of marine life including zooplankton, squids, salps, and fish. The findings suggest that the sea’s murky depths might host more life than we thought. See https://twilightzone.whoi.edu/news/.
University of Connecticut Department of Marine Sciences research professor emeritus Peter Auster and colleagues, including a Marine Sciences student serving as an intern, just returned from a cruise at Gray’s Reef National Marine Sanctuary off the coast of Georgia. With funding from the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation, they were continuing a decade long study examining the behavioral interactions between predatory fish and their prey. This year, they expanded the scope of their research by using new 360-degree virtual reality video cameras that allow researchers to record interactions over time periods beyond that of divers and without human interference and over. The field of view of the video covers nearly a 360 degree sphere around each camera so pelagic predators high in the water column as well as reef predators are captured as the interact to herd and attack schools of prey fishes. Understanding the functional role of such interactions can aid both conservation and sustainable fisheries goals in these sub-tropical reef ecosystems.
About 20,000 years ago, a blink of an eye in geologic time, the Earth was in an Ice Age. Huge parts of the planet were covered in ice sheets up to a mile thick. About 15,000 years ago, the ice sheets began to melt, and the driver of this process, known as deglaciation, was rising atmospheric CO2 levels.
The first study documenting that deglaciation is linked to increased levels of atmospheric CO2 was published in the early 1980s, yet the underlying driving mechanisms remain unknown more than 30 years later. University of Connecticut Department of Marine Sciences professor David Lund has received $379,000 from the National Science Foundation to study the role of the Atlantic Ocean circulation in storing and releasing carbon, addressing this significant knowledge gap.
The Connecticut Institute for Resilience and Climate Adaptation (CIRCA) at the University of Connecticut (UConn) recently announced a contract awarding just over $8 million to UConn from the Connecticut Department of Housing (DOH) for administration of a grant from the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) National Disaster Resilience Competition (NDR). UConn submitted a proposal to DOH in June 2017 for the project, “Development of the Connecticut Connections Coastal Resilience Plan” (C3RP).
CIRCA, with the support from faculty at the Urban Ecology and Design Laboratory of Yale University and Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, will use this $8 million NDR award to develop the C3RP. The planning process will involve extensive public input and coordination with state agencies and regional Councils of Governments and municipalities.
Through these partnerships, CIRCA will develop a resilience planning framework and assessments, develop implementation plans, assess flood risk, evaluate adaptation options, and engage stakeholders in New Haven and Fairfield counties to address vulnerabilities to future climate change and sea level rise. The C3RP project will run through May 2022 and will extend activities from an initial 2016 award from HUD to implement pilot projects in Bridgeport. This 2016 award led to a vulnerability assessment that includes maps of flood risk and social vulnerability and a conceptual resilience framework for the Connecticut coast. More on these products can be found here: https://circa.uconn.edu/projects/safr-ndrc/. In addition to the recent $8 million award to UConn CIRCA, additional funding will go to continue the pilot projects in Bridgeport.
In their announcement of this $8 million award, HUD highlighted the priority to “extend the existing planning effort to more communities in New Haven and Fairfield Counties with the goal of providing accessible downscaled inland and coastal flooding information at the watershed scale for inland and coastal municipalities.” When referring to the C3RP specifically, HUD said the award would “support the State’s efforts to bring these approaches to other at-risk communities along the I-95 corridor by contributing to planning efforts, including economic and climate modeling.”
The mission of CIRCA is to increase the resilience and sustainability of vulnerable communities along Connecticut’s coast and inland waterways to the growing impacts of climate change on the natural, built, and human environment. To learn more about CIRCA, visit http://circa.uconn.edu
Assistant professor of marine sciences Kelly Lombardo was awarded $583,701 for her project, titled “The Response of Coastal Squall Line Dynamics to Climate Change.”
The project will quantify the impact of a changing climate on severe thunderstorms over the eastern U.S. coastal region. In particular, the work will emphasize squall lines, or lines of thunderstorms, which can account for a third of all severe weather over the coastal Northeast. The population density of the northeastern U.S. creates a condition for great societal impact from these severe storms. Based on global circulation models that project an increase in U.S. summertime severe storm activity, this work will combine existing climate scenario projections and mesoscale numerical modeling techniques.
In addition to the training of undergraduate and graduate students, Lombardo’s research includes a component of public outreach and education towards improved communications between scientists and the public regarding weather and climate.
Copepod with eggs (blue) (Matt Wilson/Jay Clark, NOAA NMFS AFSC)
Norwegian Research Vessel (Ann Bucklin, UConn)
MOC10 launch (Peter H. Wiebe, WHOI)
MOC10 Hauling in (Peter H. Wiebe, WHOI)
Zooplankton with Barcodes (Photo: R.R. Hopcroft, UAF)
Marine zooplankton are tiny animals, roughly the size of insects you might see on a summer day, that drift with ocean currents. Many of them are lovely, but except for scientists who study them, few people are aware that they are among the most numerous – and important – animals on Earth.
One of the payoffs of the partnership that UConn Avery Point has with Mystic Aquarium and its Sea Research Foundation is courses that give students an opportunity to learn firsthand about potential jobs in the marine sciences and to conduct research at the famous aquarium. MARN 3014 is one of those classes.
PhD student Vena Haynes has been awarded the 2018-2019 STEM Chateaubriand Fellowship supported by President Emmanuel Macron’s ‘Make Our Planet Great Again’ initiative. As a Chateaubriand Fellow, Vena will complete a portion of her dissertation research at the Laboratoire des Sciences de l’Environnement Marin (LEMAR) in Brest, France under the advisement of Dr. Ika Paul-Pont. Over 4 months, starting April 2019, she will investigate the interactive effects of UV radiation and titanium dioxide nanoparticles on the early life stages of the Pacific oyster, Crassostrea gigas.
On May 3rd Marine Sciences and Geosciences hosted a joint Climate Modeling Symposium and Workshop at Avery Point. The goals of the symposium and workshop were to build collaborations between individuals in Marine Sciences, Geosciences, and Geography who work on issues related to climate change and foster research and education on this important topic.
26 participants listened to seven faculty from three different departments speak about their current research. After the talks, a discussion session allowed free exchange of questions and ideas regarding climate modeling and research. The event ended with a mini-workshop and plans for future gatherings on the topic of climate change.