Paquita Zuidema

Paquita Zuidema

I’m excited to share that early LASIC measurements make clear that black carbon, the component of smoke that most strongly absorbs sunlight, is not only almost always present at the surface of Ascension Island, but at times in extremely high concentrations. During those times, the amount of smoke measured at Ascension is comparable to that measured directly downstream of wildfires in eastern Washington during ARM’s Biomass Burning Observation Project (BBOP) campaign.

In the time series of data analyzed from May 18 to November 30, smoke was detected at the first ARM Mobile Facility (AMF1) 94 percent of the time (using a 2 ng/m^3 threshold for the black carbon mass concentration). Several time periods were particularly smoky, and I have indicated the peak days on this image.

August was the month with the most smoke overall. What was truly unexpected is both 1) the peak numbers and 2) how commonly smoke was detected.

This is remarkable because the remote island is ~1,700 kilometers away from the source of the smoke. While southern Africa produces one-third of the planet’s carbon from fires, it has never been clear where the smoke is ultimately deposited. Similar trends are also evident in the absorption of red, green, and blue light, and in the number of particles that can nucleate cloud droplets.

Prior to LASIC, only one anecdotal aircraft profile, taken in the year 2000, hinted at the possibility that smoke could be present in the boundary layer.

A second look at the plotted data also shows that the black carbon is associated with relatively more cloud condensation nuclei early on in the summer, suggesting the composition of the smoke may change as the season evolves.

We are also fortunate that the AMF1 will be present on the island through October 31, 2017. This means the same instruments will sample two biomass burning seasons and allow us to see if the seasonal evolution is consistent.

These LASIC measurements represent the culmination of the efforts of many dedicated scientists, the technical crew and logistics managers—all of whom must negotiate the challenges of working in such a remote, isolated site.

This is an amazing data set.

Paquita Zuidema, a professor at the University of Miami, Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science, and principal investigator for the Layered Atlantic Smoke Interactions with Clouds (LASIC) campaign, sent this update. 

Book Review by Professor Amy Clement

Amy Clement 1UM Rosenstiel School Professor Amy Clement provided the following review of the book “Sea Level Rise in Florida: Science, Impacts, and Options” by Hine, Chambers, Clayton, Hafen, and Mitchum.

It’s a bright day with not a cloud in sight, yet people in Miami Beach are wading across streets through knee-deep water: seawater, that is. This scene has become increasingly commonplace in the lowest lying parts of South Florida, often referred to as sunny day or nuisance flooding. You don’t need to be a scientist to know that something is wrong with this picture. But if you want to look at the problem through the lens of a scientist, the picture comes into awesome relief. That is what ‘Sea Level Rise in Florida: Science, Impacts, and Options’ offers it’s readers. The authors are experts in wide ranging fields, and take readers on a tour of South Florida that begins millions of years ago when Florida was the bottom of a vast ocean that covered what is now most of the continental United States. This aspect of natural history is not just a geological wonder; it is critical to understanding the problem we Floridians face today. We have built a dense urban area and a vast agriculture industry on this porous, limestone rock that barely ekes its way above sea level, vulnerable to the encroaching water from all sides, and from beneath our feet. A chapter on the ecosystem impacts of sea level rise provides lessons about the unique ecology of Florida, which alone is worth the read. Perhaps the most poignant pictures in this well-illustrated book are the elevation maps of the state, highlighting how the southern part of the state is within several feet of sea level, with these low lying areas overlapping the past, present, and projected future development areas. The book’s fourth and final chapter gives some ideas for solutions, though there is clearly no ‘silver bullet.’ It is important for citizens of our state to be aware of efforts to both reduce the greenhouse gas emissions that are at the root cause of the problem and to engineer solutions that may allow us to adapt to the inevitable impacts. This book is an efficient way for Floridians to quickly come up to speed on the basics of a grand, global problem that has very local implications for current residents of our State and for future generations.

Amy Clement is a professor of Atmospheric Science at the University of Miami Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences.

Undergraduate Students Assist Finnish Research Vessel in Baltic

Early this month, two RSMAS undergraduates joined Dr. Will Drennan on the Finnish research vessel Aranda. The group spent two weeks in the Baltic Sea assisting Finnish Meteorological Institute as part of an effort to understand (and better quantify) the carbon budget in coastal seas. The students had their travel expenses covered by the RSMAS SURGE (Small Undergraduate Research Grant Experience) awards, which are sponsored by donor’s contributions. Undergraduate student Adena Schonfeld wrote about her experience.

My experience on the R/V Aranda got off to a bit of a rocky start, literally. As soon as we left port we hit a storm, resulting in 3 meter (about 10 foot) waves, which tossed the boat around, tossing me around as I tried to walk, eventually causing me to toss my lunch. I soon realized that the only time I didn’t feel sick was while lying down, so I slept on and off for about 24 hours, until I woke up and suddenly realized that the ship was no longer jolting, just gently swaying. I discovered I could stand up and walk around, and it’s been smooth sailing ever since.

Surveying the seas from the bridge

Surveying the seas from the bridge

The main purpose of the cruise was to further the understanding of the causes of carbon exchange in shallow seas and estuaries. This required a multitude of measurements to be taken at various locations in the Baltic Sea and at a variety of depths. Very often a profile was created using a CTD which tracks fluorescence levels, oxygen, salinity, density and temperature. A carbon dioxide sensor continuously sat in a tank and had surface water pumped in as the ship moved to take measurements of the water, and full carbon profiles all the way down were created by lowering the sensor into the water using a winch. When the depth exceeded the length of the sensor cable, a canister was used to collect samples of water at depth and was brought back and dumped into a tank containing the sensor. In addition to all of these measurements, meteorological conditions were continually measured, including humidity, temperature, carbon dioxide content and wind. Wave sensors were also placed into the water at various points. All of this may not sound like the most exciting content, and unworthy of a Discovery Channel reality show, but the cruise was still incredibly interesting and enlightening. I learned a lot about carbon dioxide, waves, equipment, and testing procedures. I picked up on nuances of Finnish culture, for example at every meal they eat absolutely everything they pile on their plates and scrape all the sauces together to really clean it off. I also learned that research cruises involve a lot of waiting: waiting to arrive at the next destination; waiting for one set of equipment to finish tests to deploy the next set of equipment; waiting for carbon dioxide levels to even out to move onto the next depth; waiting for a translation from Finnish to English.

The Team: Comprised of researchers from  the Finnish Meteorological Institute and the Rosenstiel School for Marine & Atmospheric Science

The Team: Comprised of researchers from the Finnish Meteorological Institute and the Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science

All of this waiting is part of the experience and beauty of a research cruise; it gives all the scientists, researchers, and crew a chance to interact and mingle. The people that are attracted to life on the sea are an interesting set, and everyone has really unique stories. I heard stories about life at a Finnish university, past research cruises, and weddings abroad. I learned all about Finnish history and politics. Despite all of the waiting, a lot of work is accomplished, and tests often go all night. There were many nights that I saw both the sunset and sunrise.

I was expecting the research cruise to be an amazing experience, and my expectations were far exceeded. It’s difficult to adequately put into words what the cruise is truly like. A routine is developed and set up and deconstruction of equipment becomes quick and easy, and done right the first time. There’s a lot of camaraderie and teamwork between everyone on board. There is no other comparable feeling to standing on a deck in the sun and looking out and seeing nothing but sky and water; it’s easy to understand why people originally thought the world was flat. Now that my two weeks on the ship are over, I’m left wishing for the gentle rock of the boat to lull me to sleep.

–Adena Schonfeld

postscript: I’d like to thank Dr. Drennan for presenting me with this opportunity, the Finnish Meteorological Institute for allowing me to participate in their research cruise, and the Rosenstiel School for awarding me the Small Undergraduate Research Grant Experience (SURGE grant)

Adena Schonfeld is an undergraduate student at the Rosenstiel School for Marine & Atmospheric Science.


UM professor co-authors influential climate change paper

Professor Brian Soden

Professor Brian Soden

Professor Brian Soden’s 2006 paper is “one of most influential climate change papers of all time.

The Carbon Brief recently asked climate experts what they think are the most influential papers. In joint second place was a paper by Isaac Held (NOAA) and UM Rosenstiel School’s Professor of Atmospheric Sciences Brian Soden published in the Journal of Climate in 2006.

The paper, “Robust Responses of the Hydrological Cycle to Global Warming,” identified how rainfall from one place to another would be affected by climate change. Prof Sherwood, who nominated this paper, tells Carbon Brief why it represented an important step forward. He says:

“[This paper] advanced what is known as the “wet-get-wetter, dry-get-drier” paradigm for precipitation in global warming. This mantra has been widely misunderstood and misapplied, but was the first and perhaps still the only systematic conclusion about regional precipitation and global warming based on robust physical understanding of the atmosphere.”

The Carbon Brief reports on the latest developments and media coverage of climate science and energy policy, with a particular focus on the UK. They produce news coverage, analysis and factchecks. Read more

Award-Winning Faculty! German Cross of Merit and more…

Professor Graber receives the German Cross of Merit

Hans GraberHans C. Graber, UM Rosenstiel School professor of ocean sciences and director of the Center for Southeastern Tropical Remote Sensing (CSTARS), was awarded the Federal Cross of the Order of Merit, or Bundesverdienstkreuz, by the German government, the highest civilian award given by the Federal Republic of Germany. The Consul General Juergen Borsch presented the Federal Cross of Merit to Graber at an event on March 20 in Miami.

The order was established in 1951 to provide awards “for achievements that served the rebuilding of the country in the fields of political, socio-economic and intellectual activity, and is intended to mean an award of all those whose work contributes to the peaceful rise of the Federal Republic of Germany.”

Graber’s research focuses on radar remote sensing of hurricanes and typhoons, understanding air-sea interactions and the generation of ocean waves and storm surge.

Notable recipients of the Bundesverdienstkreuz include, Queen Elizabeth II and her husband Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, Mikhail Gorbachev and Queen Sofía of Spain.


Professor Amy Clement Receives Mentor Award

Amy ClementAmy Clement, associate dean and professor of atmospheric sciences is the second recipient of the UM Rosenstiel School Outstanding Mentor Award. Clement was presented the award by the Graduate Academic Committee at a ceremony on May 20 at the School. At the award ceremony she gave a talk titled, “A discussion on mentoring and being mentored.”

The award was designed to recognize an exceptional faculty mentor and based upon the recommendation of a committee of Rosenstiel School students, post-doctorate researchers and faculty.

Clement leads a climate modeling research group at the UM Rosenstiel School, which aims to better understand various aspects of Earth’s climate, from Saharan dust and clouds to El Niño/Southern Oscillation (ENSO), which is the largest mode of variability in the modern climate. Clement’s research focus is on fundamental aspects of the climate system, including understanding why the climate changed in the past, and predicting how it will change in the future.

Marine Chemistry Pioneer Frank Millero Retires

Dr. Frank MilleroAfter 49 years world-renowned Marine Chemist Frank Millero is retiring as a full professor of ocean sciences from the UM Rosenstiel School. Millero will join the ranks as a professor emeritus while still maintaining his active ocean science research laboratory on campus.

During his academic tenure Millero was instrumental in helping shape current scientific knowledge on the chemistry of seawater, a fundamental component to understand the ocean’s role in global climate change. He has published over 500 works, including one of the premier textbooks on ocean chemistry, and developed the fundamental equation of state of seawater still in use today.

Millero and his research team have traveled the world ocean’s collecting data on carbon dioxide levels at different ocean depths as part of a large, collaborate National Science Foundation-funded project. The 20-year study is helping to understand the environmental effects of the 40 percent of human-generated CO2 that enter the world’s ocean. The next cruise is scheduled for August 2015.

Beyond his scientific accolades, Millero’s devotion to teaching the next generation of scientists and generous philanthropic contributions to the UM Rosenstiel School, athletics, and arts have helped advance the University in many ways.

Millero grew up in Ohio and earned his undergraduate degree at The Ohio State University and a doctorate in chemistry at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, where he tended bar for spending money and met his wife, Judith. They have three children: Marta Millero-Quincoses, B.B.A. ’95, a South Florida accountant; Frank III, who teaches at Pratt Institute in New York; and Anthony, who works in merchandising in New York.

We are happy that Frank’s good works and good humor will still be on campus for several more years!