Tag Archive | "rosenstiel school of marine and atmospheric science"


Information Session on RSMAS’s Master of Professional Science Degree on February 25

Dreaming of an ocean-, weather-, or climate-related career? Find out if a Master of Professional Science degree from the University of Miami’s Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science is right for you at an information session about the Master of Professional Science (MPS) program at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, February 25, at the Ungar Building, room 230, on the Coral Gables campus. You can earn a degree in marine, atmospheric, and climate science in as little as 12 months, and  partial merit-based scholarships are available, with a job placement rate of  85 percent. For more information on the MPS program visit http://mps.rsmas.miami.edu, call 305-421-4340, or email mps@rsmas.miami.edu.


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Professor Receives $2.5 Million Grant to Study Agulhas Current

Special to UM News 


UM’s Lisa Beal, right, discusses a mooring deployment with UM technicians during a prior expedition to the Agulhas Current aboard Research Vessel Knorr. Photo by Valery Lyman.

MIAMI, FLA. (February 10,2015) — Scientists at the Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science have been awarded a $2.5 million grant from the National Science Foundation to conduct a climate study off the coast of South Africa of one of the strongest currents in the world. The five-year Agulhas System Climate Array is an international program to take continuous measurements of the Agulhas Current to gain a better understanding of how climate change is affecting the oceans.

Lisa Beal, professor of ocean sciences, will lead this first-of-its-kind research project to monitor the current’s physical characteristics, such as velocity, temperature, and salinity, in hopes of better understanding the current’s role in global climate variability. Beal will collaborate with scientists from South Africa and The Netherlands.

The Agulhas is the Indian Ocean’s version of the Gulf Stream, where warm, salty water is transported away from the tropics toward the poles. Hundreds of kilometers long and more than 2,000 meters deep, it transports large amounts of ocean heat and is considered to have an influence not only on the regional climate of Africa but also on global climate as part of the ocean’s global overturning circulation.

The Agulhas Current transports waters from the tropical Indian Ocean to the southern tip of Africa, where most of the water loops around to remain in the Indian Ocean (the Agulhas Retroflection). But some of the waters leak into the fresher Atlantic Ocean via giant Agulhas rings. Once in the Atlantic, the salty Agulhas leakage waters eventually flow into the Northern Hemisphere where they can strengthen the Atlantic’s overturning circulation by enhancing deep-water formation. Recent research points to an increase in Agulhas leakage over the last few decades caused primarily by human-induced climate change. This finding is profound because it suggests that increased Agulhas leakage could trigger a strengthening in the Atlantic overturning circulation at a time when warming and accelerated meltwater input in the North Atlantic have been predicted to weaken it.

The international research team is led by Beal, UM Rosenstiel School associate scientist Shane Elipot, Juliet Hermes of the South African Environmental Observation Network, Mike Roberts at South Africa’s Department of Environment Affairs, and Herman Ridderinkhof at the Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research.

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Researchers Develop New Instrument to Monitor Atmospheric Mercury

Special to UM News


Graphic courtesy of UNEP Chemicals Branch, DTIE – Switzerland

 MIAMI, Fla. (January  27, 2015) — Researchers at the Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science have developed and tested a new sensor to detect ambient levels of mercury in the atmosphere. Funded through a National Science Foundation Major Research Instrumentation grant, the new highly sensitive, laser-based instrument provides scientists with a method to more accurately measure global human exposure to mercury.

The measurement approach is called sequential two-photon laser induced fluorescence (2P-LIF) and uses two different laser beams to excite mercury atoms and monitor blue-shifted atomic fluorescence. Rosenstiel Professor of Atmospheric Sciences Anthony Hynes and colleagues tested the new mobile instrument, alongside the standard instrumentation that is currently used to monitor atmospheric mercury concentrations, during the three-week Reno Atmospheric Mercury Intercomparison Experiment (RAMIX) performed in 2011 in Reno, Nevada.

The 2P-LIF instrument measured ambient mercury at very minute levels within ten seconds, whereas its counterpart instrument requires at least 2.5 minutes and is not able to differentiate between elemental and oxidized mercury, where the mercury atom is combined with another element or elements and becomes more efficiently deposited in the environment.

“To understand how mercury gets deposited we need to understand its atmospheric chemistry, but our understanding is very limited,” said Hynes, a co-author of the new study. “Our instrument has the potential to greatly enhance our understanding of the atmospheric cycling of mercury and increase understanding of the global impact of mercury on human health.”

The U.S. EPA Mercury and Air Toxics Standards and the International Minamata Convention on Mercury have focused on limiting the emissions of toxic air pollutants, including mercury. Hynes noted that these represent huge steps forward, but their effectiveness in protecting human health may be limited without an increased understanding of the global cycling of atmospheric mercury.


Graphic courtesy of UNEP Chemicals Branch, DTIE – Switzerland

Mercury is deposited on the ground (dry deposition) or via rainfall (wet deposition) where it bioaccumulates and biomagnifies, ending up at much high concentrations in fish and mammals. Direct exposure to mercury by humans is primarily through the ingestion of methyl mercury from fish consumption.

The study, titled “Deployment of a sequential two-photon laser-induced fluorescence sensor for the detection of gaseous elemental mercury at ambient levels: fast, specific, ultrasensitive detection with parts-per-quadrillion sensitivity,” was published in the December 8 issue of the journal Atmospheric Measurement Techniques. The study co-authors include: Anthony J. Hynes, Dieter Bauer, James Remeika, Stephanie Everhart, and Cheryl Tatum Ernest of the Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science’s Department of Atmospheric Sciences. The Instrument development was supported by NSF Award #MRI-0821174.

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Faculty Senate to Meet on Rosenstiel Campus January 28

Once a year, the Faculty Senate holds a meeting on the beautiful campus of the Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science. This year’s is slated for Wednesday, January 28 at 3:30 p.m. in the SLAB, seminar room. All UM faculty members are invited to attend. For more information, visit the Faculty Senate Web page.

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Research Suggests Caribbean Soft Corals Resist Acidification


Study co-author Juan A. Sanchez of the Universidad de los Andes in Bogota, Colombia, captured this stand of Caribbean soft corals off the coast of Curacao.

Special to UM News

MIAMI, Fla. (December 5, 2014)—A new study on tropical shallow-water soft corals, known as gorgonians, found that the species were able to calcify and grow under elevated carbon dioxide concentrations. These results suggest that Caribbean gorgonian corals may be more resilient to the ocean acidification levels projected by the end of the 21st century than previously thought.

An international team of scientists that includes researchers from the University of Miami Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science tested the effects of elevated CO2 concentrations on the growth and calcification rates of the sea rod Eunicea fusca, a type of gorgonian or soft coral found throughout the Bahamas, Bermuda, South Florida, and into the Gulf of Mexico.

Researchers collected E. fusca specimens from Big Pine Shoals in the Florida Keys to simulate a range of predicted future ocean acidification conditions—CO2 concentrations from 285-2,568 parts per million (pH range 8.1-7.1)—during a four-week experiment at the Rosenstiel School’s Coral Reefs and Climate Change Laboratory. E. fusca showed a negative response to calcification under elevated CO2 concentrations, but growth and calcification did not stop under any of the CO2 levels used in the study.

“Our results suggest that gorgonian coral may be more resilient than other reef-dwelling species to the ocean acidification changes that are expected to occur in the oceans as a result of climate change,” said Chris Langdon, professor and director of the Coral Reefs and Climate Change Laboratory. “These findings will allow us to better predict the future composition of coral reef communities under the current ‘business-as-usual’ scenario.”

The results showed that calcification dramatically declined at extremely high levels of CO2 but not at mid-elevated levels, which led the study’s authors to suggest that tropical gorgonian corals may be more resilient to the future levels of ocean acidification expected to occur during this century. Gorgonian corals form complex structures that provide essential habitat for other important reef-dwelling organisms.

Based upon studies of encrusting coralline algae and echinoderms, scientists have suggested that corals with skeletons formed by high-magnesium calcite may be more susceptible to the impacts of ocean acidification than aragonite-depositing corals. This is the first study to find that not all high-magnesium calcite secretors, such as soft corals, are more susceptible than aragonite secretors, such as stony reef-building corals.

The absorption of carbon dioxide by seawater, which results in a decline in pH level, is termed ocean acidification. The increased acidity in the seawater is felt throughout the marine food web as calcifying organisms, such as corals, oysters, and sea urchins, find it more difficult to build their shells and skeletons, making them more susceptible to predation and damage. According to the IPCC 5th Assessment Report, year 2100 projected changes in surface ocean chemistry compared with preindustrial values are expected to fall by 0.14 to 0.43 units depending on whether there is global effort to sharply curtail emissions, or if emissions continue to increase each year.

The paper, “Reponses of the tropical gorgonian coral Eunicea fusca to ocean acidification conditions,” was published in the online first version of the journal Coral Reef. 

In addition to Langdon, the study co-authors include Carlos E. Gómez and Juan A. Sànchez of the Universidad de los Andes in Bogotà, Colombia; Valerie J. Paul and Raphael Ritman-Williams of the Smithsonian Institution in Fort Pierce, Florida, and Nancy Muehllehner of the Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science.

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