WHERE THERE IS SMOKE, THERE IS A DATA SET!

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. 

Have you seen these drift cards?

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Scientists need your help in locating these small, eco-friendly wood cards, as part of a scientific experiment studying our local ocean currents.

The Biscayne Bay Drift Card Study (#BayDrift) is a collaborative community science project studying the current flows in Biscayne Bay to better understand how trash, sewage, oil, and harmful algae blooms get transported through South Florida waters by the wind and ocean currents. The effort is led by CARTHE (Consortium for Advanced Research on Transport of Hydrocarbon in the Environment) at the University of Miami Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science, Vizcaya Museum and Gardens, and the Patricia and Phillip Frost Museum of Science.

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On Friday, December 9th, 280 small, eco-friendly wood cards were released into Biscayne Bay from 7 sites near downtown Miami by students from elementary to high school. The “drift cards” are brightly painted and float along the water’s surface, moved by the currents. Each card is coded so the project team can identify where it was deployed. By tracking the location where drift cards are released and found, we will learn how the currents distribute debris in Biscayne Bay.

The ultimate goal of the project is to advance our understanding of the area’s flow patternsMap, demonstrating how the ocean and bay currents transport various substances, but also to give students a hands-on STEAM activity (Science Technology Engineering Art Math). By hosting informative art events at Vizcaya, the Ramble at Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden,
the Miami Science Barge, Nerd Nite Miami, the Key Biscayne Citizen Scientist Lecture, and Art Miami at Art Basel, as well as partnering with the youth poetry competition, Piano Slam, the backs of the drift cards are full of colorful images and inspiring poetry. Over 100 of the cards feature poems written by Piano Slam students inspired by the music Migrant Voyage by Manuel Valera and the migration of the ocean currents. The Bay Drift team hopes these eye catching additions will increase the chance of the cards being discovered and reported to the scientists.

Ten local organizations and seven schools participated in the December 9th Bay Drift release:

Organizations Schools
CARTHE at the University of Miami Lamar Louise Curry Middle School
Vizcaya Museum & Gardens Leisure City K-8 Center
Patricia & Philip Frost Museum of Science MAST Academy
Biscayne Bay Aquatic Preserves Mater Grove Academy
International Seakeepers Society Miami Northwestern Sr. High School
Key Biscayne Citizen Scientist Project Miami Springs Middle School
Miami Waterkeeper South Pointe Elementary School
Miami Science Barge
Piano Slam
Surfrider Foundation – Miami Chapter

This is the second #BayDrift release to date. The first took place on September 12, 2016 and 38 cards were reported, some very close to the release point and some nearly 70 miles aP1110178way. CARTHE scientists also released 15 biodegradable, custom-made, GPS-equipped drifters, providing detailed tracks of their journey. Preliminary analysis shows that most o
f the drifters remained inside the Bay for much longer than some predicted. This could have important implications for resource managers and decision makers in the event of some type of spill inside Biscayne Bay.

If you find a drift card, you are asked to report the location, data, time and a photo using #BayDrift or BayDriftMiami@gmail.com.  For more information on the Bay Drift study, visit www.CARTHE.org/BayDrift.

 

Drawn to the Sea

When Patrick Rynne contacted me on December 11th of last year, he explained that one of Waterlust’s initiatives was to showcase ocean scientists’ fundamental research interest and juxtapose the topic with their personal passions. He said “Obviously your name jumped up immediately. We’d love to produce a piece on you that contrasts your love of freediving with your research”. I was stoked about the idea of a snapshot documentary. I thought it could be a very artistic and powerful way to communicate science to the general public. Drawn to the Sea, the Waterlust 4-minute long video was launched 6 months later, coincidently during the International Coral Reef Symposium (ICRS) which takes place only every four years, and I could not be happier with the outcome. It’s making was a very educational and amazing journey that I’d love to share.

The short video is composed of three major parts: the narration, the footage, and the soundtrack.

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The Narration

Being familiar with my research on fish larvae, Patrick had a story board already in mind, but he asked me of I would prefer to do the narration myself. As far as I remember, water has been my sanctuary and since I am very passionate about my work and about freediving, I found it easy and fun to write the narration below. The hardest part was to make the story short enough to be told in 3-4 minutes. It took however coaching from Patrick to speak into a microphone and many repetitions alone in my office late at night, with complete silence to get it right!

I have always been drawn to the sea. As a kid, I imagined the magic of the aquatic realm and found comfort underwater, mesmerized by the sounds of waves on the shoals and of my heart beat slowing down.

I am a biological oceanographer and a free diver. The ocean is where I push my mind and my body. I study the earliest days of a fishs life, what we call its larval stage. All fish, even those that grow to become very large, begin their lives very small. They may be tiny, but weve learned they are far from defenseless. They are strong and self sufficient having evolved to survive the pelagic life. Like the mantra ek ong kar, they and the ocean are one.

Despite this, they must still find their way through the oceans currents to a safe home like a coral reef where they can live and grow. At first we thought some would find a suitable habitat by chance, while others would be lost in the vast ocean. But today we are discovering a different story. Fish larvae are skilled swimmers and work together by using the light from the sun, and the smells and sounds in the ocean to find their way home. Even when young, they are connected to the sea in ways we dont entirely understand. When I observe them, I cannot help but think they know something about this blue world that I don’t.

Unlike a fish, I cannot extract oxygen from the water. But with long, deep inhales, I have learned to fill my lungs with air and slow the beat of my heart. Underwater, I find peace listening to my pulse slowing down and the sound of water over my body. I sink as pressure increases and I feel the water running faster over my face. I imagine that I am just like the tiny fish I study.

I explore the ocean with others like me, learning how to hold my breath and extend each visit below, just a little bit longer. But no matter how hard I train.my body will eventually force me to leave and return home to the air. Sometimes.in my dreams, I imagine I could hold my breath forever. I feel free. I wonder if I could, would I ever come back?

The Soundtrack

The music actually came after the narration. Despite personal preference for cello or violin, I had to agree that the piano soundtrack chosen by the Waterlust team was perfectly in tune with the narration. They have a lot of experience putting together amazing videos with beautiful soundtracks so it did not take long for them to find the perfect fit.

The Footage

Most of the footage was the result of a weekend session done with the Waterlust team in the Florida Springs. We had a great time freediving with them and their creative angles. Before that, I started organizing all my footage together and Patrick reviewed it and figured out what more was needed. The video needed field and lab footage of larval fish. I had some unique video of groups of damselfish larvae navigating taken by my husband Ricardo (RSMAS Alumni) and I on the Great Barrier Reef a few years ago. This study was recently published in PLoS ONE in December 2015. However, the field of larval fish behavior is relatively undocumented. So Patrick came to my lab and took some radical video of mahi-mahi larvae (generously donated by my UM Rosenstiel School colleagues, Daniel Bennetti and Martin Grosell) with a macro lens shooting at 240 frames per second!

The video also needed freediving clips from travel or from competitions. My first competition was at Deja Blue in October 2013 and my latest trip was at the Dean’s Blue Hole this April 2016, where I regularly service an acoustic pressure instrument that records sounds in a marine sinkhole. However, we still needed some footage of the meditation practice that is part of my freediving training, and of course of the fun part of the freediving with “others like me”. We asked Waterlust Ambassador, Ashley Baird, to join us on that endeavor. Ashley is from central Florida and also a competitive free diver and a great friend, so she was perfect for the role and she kindly accepted!

The best part of making the video was hanging out with the amazing Waterlust team,at Ginnie Springs around a fire camp and freediving under the moonlight. It was my first time visiting the Florida springs. I could not believe that after so many years in Miami, I had missed such natural beauty in Central Florida. The freshwater is so clear that you can see the refraction of the hammocks on the Snell’s window from the bottom of the sink holes.

I hope you enjoy the video and that it will inspire more documentaries of our scientific research at RSMAS and of our passion for the ocean.

 

Claire Paris, Professor – Department of Ocean Sciences, UM Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science

Claire Paris-Limouzy leads the RSMAS Physical-Biological Interactions Lab and is a champion free-diver.

 

 

Oil Spill Science

DWH_OILTwo large-scale oil spills in the Gulf of Mexico over the past four decades—the 1979 Ixtoc I spill off the coast of Carmen, Mexico that released 3.5 million barrels of crude oil, and the 2010 Deepwater Horizon blowout off Louisiana that released 3.19 million barrels into the Gulf—have resulted in scientists coming together to gather data needed to understand the fate of oil, its disturbance to the ecosystem, and impacts on humans. One of the largest drivers of research efforts surrounding the 2010 Deepwater Horizon incident is the Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative (GoMRI).

GoMRI-funded research has identified gaps in our understanding, which is leading to new research and insights that will inform society’s response to future oil spills through improved mitigation efforts, refined detection of oil and gas in the environment, more robust spill simulation models, and novel technologies.

As we celebrate oceans this week as part of #WorldOceansDay,  we reflect on the progress GOMRI has made in advancing oil spill research, and subsequently our ability to deal with the ever-present threat of oil spills. Due to the groundbreaking research GOMRI has sponsored, we will be better prepared to understand and respond to any future petroleum releases into marine systems.

Through GoMRI research funding, scientists at the University of Miami (UM) Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science have helped to significantly enhance our  knowledge of Gulf ecosystems and the impacts of oil spills on the Gulf.

Oil spills are a persistent threat to the Gulf of Mexico and GoMRI scientists have rapidly responded to these spills. Within a few days of the July 2013 explosion on the Hercules gas platform off the coast of Louisiana, a diverse team of GoMRI scientists from five research consortia, including the University of Miami-based Consortium for Advanced Research on Transport of Hydrocarbon in the Environment (CARTHE), quickly mobilized to visit the rig site.

CARTHE's partenevia plane over the R/V Walton Smith in the Gulf of Mexico Photo credit: CARTHE/Tamay Ozgokmen

CARTHE’s partenevia plane over the R/V Walton Smith in the Gulf of Mexico
Photo credit: CARTHE/Tamay Ozgokmen

University of Miami Rosenstiel School-based RECOVER consortium, which focuses on the affects of oil exposure on fish, will satellite tag captive mahi-mahi to examine spawning behaviors; look at how oil exposure can alter vision and smell in mahi-mahi and red drum; observe the heart cells of oil-exposed mahi-mahi, evaluate the impacts of oil on genetic profiles of embryos of mahi-mahi and red drum to better predict adverse effects on the heart and whether there can be recovery; use Gulf toadfish to examine how ingesting oil-contaminated seawater affects the ability of marine fish to maintain hydration and electrolyte balance while living in a salty environment.

Professor Claire Paris

Professor Claire Paris

Professor of ocean sciences Claire Paris have been working on the Deepwater Horizon oil spill since the beginning, in April 2010, when she received a National Science Foundation grant to build the oil dispersion model.

Paris is currently a member and lead of the near- and far-field modeling task of the GoMRI-funded Center for Integrated Modeling and Analysis of Gulf Ecosystems (C-IMAGE), a research consortium of 19 U.S. and international partners focused on effects of oil spills on marine environments based at the University of South Florida.

Three recently funded GoMRI studies from scientists at the UM Rosenstiel School include:

  • UM professor of ocean sciences Lynn “Nick” Shay was awarded GoMRI funding for a three-year study, titled “Three-Dimensional Gulf Circulation and Biogeochemical Processes Unveiled by State of the Art Profiling Float Technology and Data Assimilative Ocean Models.”
  • UM research professor of ocean sciences Villy Kourafalou was awarded funding for a three-year study, titled “Influence of River Induced Fronts on Hydrocarbon Transport.”
  • UM professor of ocean sciences William Drennan was awarded funding for a three-year study, titled “Investigation of Oil Spill Transport in Coupled Wind-Wave Current Environment Using Simulation and Laboratory Studies.”

About GoMRI

All research discussed in this article was made possible by grants from The Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative (GoMRI). The GoMRI is a 10-year independent research program established to study the effect, and the potential associated impact, of hydrocarbon releases on the environment and public health, as well as to develop improved spill mitigation, oil detection, characterization and remediation technologies. An independent and academic 20-member Research Board makes the funding and research direction decisions to ensure the intellectual quality, effectiveness and academic independence of the GoMRI research. All research data, findings and publications will be made publicly available. The program was established through a $500 million financial commitment from BP. For more information, visit http://gulfresearchinitiative.org/.

This article was adapted from a news release by Leslie Smith of the Consortium for Ocean Leadership 

American Meteorological Society Bestows Award to Professor of Atmospheric Sciences

P1010419A team of researchers at the Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science, led by Dr. David Nolan, has been awarded the prestigious Banner Miller award by the American Meteorological Society. The award is given every two years at the AMS Meeting on Hurricanes and Tropical Meteorology, most recently held this past April in San Juan, Puerto Rico. The Banner Miller award recognizes an outstanding contribution to the science of hurricane and tropical weather forecasting that is published in a journal with international circulation during the previous 4 years.

The award is for the research article “Development and validation of a hurricane nature run using the Joint OSSE nature run and the WRF model,” which appeared in the Journal of Advances in Modeling Earth Systems in 2013. The article describes the development of an extremely realistic computer simulation of an Atlantic hurricane, and the validation of its realism by comparisons to observations in real hurricanes. This computer simulation – the “nature run” – is now being used by over a dozen different research groups in various Observing System Simulation Experiments. OSSEs are a way to determine the effectiveness of new instruments, such as new satellites or unmanned aircraft (drones), in improving hurricane forecasts, before they are actually deployed, potentially saving millions of dollars.

Dr. Nolan’s co-authors were RSMAS graduate students Kieran Bhatia and Lisa Bucci and Dr. Robert Atlas, director of NOAA’s Atmospheric and Oceanic Marine Laboratory, also in Miami. Their work was supported by the NOAA Office of Weather and Air Quality and its Hurricane Forecast Improvement program.

“Part of the success of this project is that we made the nature run freely available for anyone to download,” said Dr. Nolan. “In addition to OSSEs, it has been used by several groups for basic research on hurricanes.” Dr. Nolan is currently serving as the Chair of the Department of Atmospheric Sciences. His research is on the dynamics of hurricanes and the improvement of hurricane forecasts. Kieran Bhatia is now a post-doctoral fellow at NOAA’s Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory in Princeton, New Jersey.

 

Fish At Night Symposium – Day 1

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FISH AT NIGHT

The Bulletin of Marine Science hosted an international symposium aimed at shedding light on all things, fish at night. The conference drew scientists, as well as delegates, from around the world to share their findings and discuss what fish do in the dark. The conference was held in Miami from November 17-20, 2015. Talks were, appropriately, given at night!

As a Pisces myself and a student in marine science, how could I not be intrigued by the Fish at Night logo and the conference? This was my first time attending a scientific conference as “Media.” I even got the badge to prove it!

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SOUNDS OF LARVAL FISH

The first session I attended was about larval fish at night. Erica Staaterman, a Rosenstiel School alumna, made an accidental discovery during her Ph.D. research. She was trying to listen to the reef at night, but heard “knocks” and “growls” within her instrument. It turns out that the Gray snapper larva was making sounds. The sounds are similar to what the adults make, but interestingly, are only heard at night. Could it be the group trying to stick together in the dark? It certainly opens up for a lot more research in the future.

A recording of Gray Snapper “knocks” and “growls” looks something like this:

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THE DEEPER WE GO, THE LESS WE KNOW

The other ballroom had talks all focused on Deep and Polar Sea Fish and Fisheries. These regions have “Perpetual Night,” if you will. Tiffany Sih studies fish communities on deep reefs by installing “security cameras” on the reef. These cameras are called Baited Remote Underwater Video Stations (BRUVS). Her feeling is, “If we don’t know how much we have, how do we know how much we have to lose?” That is why she is monitoring these deep reefs on the Great Barrier Reef. Sih watches the videos, creates new records of fish, and sometimes even identifies new species.

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After a short break, it was back to the ballroom to hear about nocturnal fish behavior and ecology.

SMALLEST GOLIATH GROUPER EVER CAUGHT          

Christopher Koenig talked about the spawning behavior of Goliath Grouper. (I think the name “Goliath” is fitting for these massive fish, don’t you?)

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Spawning requires perfect conditions for the Grouper, with the peaks being at new moon in August, September, and October. Koenig collected embryos to examine in the lab, and joked with us that these 1mm embryos are “the smallest Goliath Grouper ever caught!”

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I noticed throughout the talks that some fish prefer new moon phases, while others are most active or spawn during full moon phases. There are lots of interesting components to the night.

TAKE A JOURNEY

Did you know that Nassau Grouper can migrate hundreds of miles to spawn on a specific coral head? The predictability of Nassau Grouper aggregations for spawning makes them very susceptible to fishing. Kristine Stump studies their movement and behavior throughout the Bahamas in order to better understand, where they might go to spawn and how to then protect them.

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A recurrent theme throughout the talks is conservation. Many of the scientists’ goals are to better understand their respective locations and species to better conserve and mitigate the area.

RISKY BUSINESS

Have you ever tried performing surgery underwater? Did I mention that it is surgery on a lionfish? Most would steer clear of such a task, but Michael McCallister is familiar with this kind of surgery.

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Lionfish are collected and tagged with acoustic tags, underwater. This makes it possible to track their movement throughout the Florida Keys. Michael has been interested in what these lionfish are doing at night, since so little is known about the invasive species. This behavior information could be useful for lionfish management.

EYES IN THE WATER

The evening was an exciting first day of the Fish at Night Symposium! I realized the importance of having eyes in the water to understand what happens beneath the surface. Studying fish at night requires special technology and unique field practices. It also requires passion and patience.

The scientists who presented today have made great advances in their field, but there is still a lot more to do. NOAA estimates that as much as 95% of the world’s ocean is unexplored. Time to get wet and get exploring!

BULLETIN OF MARINE SCIENCE

Back in 1951, FG Walton Smith, the founder of RSMAS, founded of the Bulletin of Marine Science, with the goal of furthering scientific knowledge of the world’s oceans. The Bulletin publishes high-quality, peer-reviewed science research from around the world. Next year, the Bulletin will publish a special issue for the “Proceedings of the 2015 International Fish at Night Symposium.”

-Viki Knapp

Viki Knapp is pursuing her Masters of Professional Science at the University of Miami’s Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science in Weather, Climate, and Society in the Department of Atmospheric Sciences.