AGU Meeting in San Francisco

A Pole-to-Pole Look at Atmospheric Gases

Researchers from the UM Rosenstiel School will discuss finding from a three-year experiment to collect atmospheric gas concentrations from the Arctic to the Antarctic. The field project, HIAPER Pole-to-Pole Observations (HIPPO), concluded in Sept. 2011 and will produce the first detailed map of global gas concentrations and aerosol particles in the atmosphere that have an effect on Earth’s climate. 

Using the specially equipped Gulfstream V aircraft, researchers took whole air flask samples provide an unprecedented snapshot of 80 atmospheric trace gas concentrations throughout the troposphere. The measurements will be analyzed to better understand the different lifetimes, sources and sinks and transport mechanisms for fifteen different climatically relevant compounds, including CFCs, hydrocarbons, carbon monoxide and ozone.

Monday, Dec. 5 • 8:00 – 8:15 a.m. (A11K-01) and 8:15 – 8:30 a.m. (A11K-02) • Moscone West 3001


CORKs: From Dinner Napkin to Sub-Surface Scientific Discoveries

UM Rosenstiel School professor Keir Becker will provide a historic overview of “CORK” observatories, which allow scientists to make long-term scientific observations of life beneath the seafloor. Becker and colleagues will also present recent findings from several long-term sub-surface borehole experiments below the flank of the Juan de Fuca Ridge, which is located off the coast of Washington (U.S.) and British Columbia (Canada).

Becker and colleagues conceptualized the first CORK design in 1989 on a dinner napkin. Today, the deep-sea technology is used in 24 locations and offers scientist with a unique opportunity to study the dynamic microbial life and ever-changing environment inside Earth’s crust.

“Similar to a cork in a wine bottle, our technology stops fluids from moving in and out of the drilling hole,” said Becker. “Ocean water is blocked from entering the hole and flushing out the natural system.”

These natural laboratories allow scientists to investigate the hydrogeology, geochemistry, and microbiology of ocean crust in order to better understanding the natural processes taking place below the seafloor, which also may play a role in earthquakes and provide nutrients to major subseafloor microbial ecosystems.

Monday, Dec. 5 • 8:00 a.m., Poster Hall (OS11A-1454, OS11A-1457)
Wednesday, Dec. 7 • 4:30 p.m. Moscone West 2011 (T34B-03)

Sediments Uncover Abrupt Climate Change in the Tropics

During an invited talk, Rosenstiel School professor Larry Peterson and colleagues will discuss paleoclimatic records obtained from the anoxic Cariaco Basin on the northern Venezuelan margin. Records from Cariaco Basin and elsewhere in the low latitudes indicate that the largest impact of abrupt climate change in the tropics is on the hydrologic cycle.

Sediments from this unique tropical locality rival ice core records from Greenland in their ability to preserve climate and oceanographic information on decadal to centennial timescales. Rapid changes in sedimentary properties can be linked to Greenland temperature records during the last glacial period and throughout deglaciation. The changes are connected to past shifts in the position of the Intertropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ), where winds and clouds converge near the Earth’s equator and give rise to the wet and dry tropical seasons.

The researchers will also present evidence of a recently identified wet interval in the northern tropics of South America during the late glacial within a period previously thought to have been extremely dry, a discovery that bears upon the role that the overturning circulation of the Atlantic and ITCZ position plays in abrupt climate change.

Tuesday, Dec. 6 • 11:35 – 11:50 a.m. (PP22C-06) • Moscone West 3016 

Recounting Earth’s Tectonic Plates

New technologies are helping geologists count the cracks in Earth’s crust that lead to continental drift and earthquakes. Rosenstiel School Professor Chris Harrison will present a review of data on 45 recently identified tectonic plates, taking the total number to 97.

“In the last decade the number of tectonic plates thought to exist has greatly increased,” said Harrison. The most recent documented review is from 2003, when UCLA scientist Peter Bird proposed 52 tectonic plates.

Harrison will discuss the new plates and what sorting them by size can tell scientists about boundary patterns. He will also show how technologies to more accurately identify earthquake epicenter locations, modern ways of measuring ocean bathymetry using swath mapping and the use of space based geodetic techniques have provided scientists with better ways to identify Earth’s tectonic plates.

Wednesday, Dec 7 • 4:00 - 4:15 p.m. (T34D-01) • Moscone West 2012

Resolving the Andes in the Amazon’s Climate

In a series of invited talks UM Rosenstiel School Dean Roni Avissar and colleagues will discuss weather and climate studies in deforested areas of Brazil, including the impact the Andes have on the Amazon’s climate.

The team will discuss the strength of their weather and climate model, known as the Ocean Land Atmosphere Model (OLAM), to study global and regional climate, and how unique physical features, such as the Andes mountain range, can play a role in the region’s inter-annual precipitation variability and long-term climate.

They will provide insights from several studies conducted during the 10-year international research initiative, known as the Large Scale Biosphere-Atmosphere Experiment in Amazonia (LBA), to understand the impact of land use change in the largest tropical rain forest on Earth.

Wednesday, Dec 7 • 11:05 - 11:20 a.m. (GC32B-04) Moscone West 3001
Thursday, Dec 8 • 2:55 - 3:10 p.m. (H43L-06) Moscone West 3020
Friday, Dec 9 • 1:40 - 1:55 p.m (A53D-01) Moscone West 3004

About the University of Miami’s Rosenstiel School of Marine & Atmospheric Science
The University of Miami’s mission is to educate and nurture students, to create knowledge, and to provide service to our community and beyond. Committed to excellence and proud of the diversity of our University family, we strive to develop future leaders of our nation and the world. Founded in the 1940’s, the Rosenstiel School of Marine & Atmospheric Science has grown into one of the world’s premier marine and atmospheric research institutions. Offering dynamic interdisciplinary academics, the Rosenstiel School is dedicated to helping communities to better understand the planet, participating in the establishment of environmental policies, and aiding in the improvement of society and quality of life. For more information, please visit

climate change •  paleoclimate •  dr. roni avissar •  geophysical •  plate tectonics •  dr. larry peterson •  dr. keir becker •  dr. chris harrison •