Gulf of Maine Research – Current research with Andrew Pershing concerning the use of satellite data in modeling the growth of Calanus in the Gulf of Maine is funded through 2009. With the retrospective analysis work now complete, attention will turn to developing a near-real-time (NRT) operational tool that can eventually be handed off to NOAA marine mammal managers. The work toward an operational management tool will involve collecting and processing NRT satellite data, ingesting the data into an advection-diffusion-reaction model of Calanus population dynamics, and storing both satellite data and model output in a database management system that can be retrieved by NOAA managers via an intuitive web interface.
Ocean Eddy Impact on Surface Chlorophyll - I have a new 3-year NASA sponsored research project that will begin in January 2009. The research is directed at examining how ocean eddies and wind speed variability impact the growth of phytoplankton in subtropical oceans. Subtropical mesoscale eddies have been strongly implicated as an important mechanism for nutrient delivery to the euphotic zone to fuel new primary production. The new work involves identifying and tracking the movement of ocean eddies based on an analysis of satellite altimetry products. Wind forcing over the eddy region will be estimated using satellite scatterometry products. Chlorophyll response within the tracked eddies will be monitored using satellite ocean color products. Several theories will be tested using time series analysis of the combined satellite product suite.
Introductory Oceanography: This is a large course that appeals to a broad range of undergraduates. The class relies more on intuitive reasoning rather than complicated mathematical formulas to convey basic concepts about how the ocean works. For this reason, the class is very accessible to non-science majors. For ocean science majors, this class serves as valuable preparation for more advanced courses oceanography because the broad sweep of material covered in the class allows students to see clearly the inter-connectedness of all four oceanography sub-disciplines: biological-, physical-, chemical- and geological-oceanography.
About 2/3 of the semester is spent covering standard topics found in almost any introductory oceanography class. The students, however, are given a much more realistic view of the role of microbes in carbon cycling in the ocean than is typically found in most introductory courses (note: my dissertation research was on microbial ecology in marine pelagic environments). The last third of the semester is spent describing environmental threats facing the ocean and the issue of global warming. Topics in this section include: 1) global warming, 2) role of the ocean in global carbon cycling, 3) marine pollution, 4) coastal eutrophication, 5) overfishing, 6) coral bleaching, 7) marine policy and 7) “The Tragedy of the Commons” concept.
Students have an end-of-semester assignment to write a letter to their two United States Senators and their Congressional District Representative that describes a personal concern about a particular threat to the ocean or about global warming. I explain at the start of the semester that our country runs on an informed citizenry and that by the end of the semester they will know far more about the ocean than the average citizen and that they have an obligation to their country to let their knowledge be heard in Washington. I also tell the students that “knowledge is power” and that the facts, figures and concepts presented in the class can be used in their letters to make them much more persuasive. The letter writing assignment serves as a powerful affirmation to the student on the applied value of learning the course material.
Physical Oceanography – The first half covers geophysical fluid dynamics where the full equations of motion are derived from first principles. The full equations of motion are subsequently simplified using scaling arguments to derive mathematical expressions of geostrophic balance, Ekman transport and the classic circulation models of, respectively, Sverdrup, Stommel and Munk. The second half of the course addresses observational physical oceanography topics and covers a broad range of classical and contemporary issues. The course uses a mixture of four textbooks with Knauss (1996) being the principle text for the dynamics component of the course.
Satellite Remote Sensing Training Program (Summer Special Program) – The increased need to understand ocean processes at the global scale, driven in part by expanding interest in climate change research, has fueled an ever-expanding constellation of ocean observing satellites that collectively generate an extraordinary volume and variety of satellite data on a daily basis. The wide range of satellite data types and data sources can be pretty overwhelming and this prevents many researchers from incorporating remotely sensed data into their research programs. In response to this problem, I developed a summer satellite remote sensing training course that provides an intensive introduction to the practical skills needed to work independently to acquire, analyze and visualize remotely sensed data. The course content is very hands-on oriented and focuses a lot of attention on processing SeaWiFS/MODIS data from raw radiance values to mapped chlorophyll or SST. Less attention is given to other satellite sensors (e.g., AVHRR, QuikScat and Toppex-Jason-ERS1/2) in that the class does not process these satellite products from raw to final form, but instead focuses on using pre-computed standard geophysical products (e.g., computed SST, vector winds or sea-surface height) that are available for direct download from respective websites. One of the main goals for these other sensors is to give a brief overview of the physical basis of the measurement and then show students where on the web the processed data products are located, how to download the data and how to perform some basic analyses of the data.
Since its inception in 1999, the program has trained over a hundred participants comprised mainly of graduate students and postgraduate professionals, but it has also included seventeen advanced Cornell undergraduates. For more information regarding this training course, visit: http://www.geo.cornell.edu/ocean/satellite