NSF grant supports study of nitrous oxide cycling

SMAST's Annie Bourbonnais received a National Science Foundation grant for her study of nitrous oxide cycling in the Western Arctic Ocean.

Annie Bourbonnais/SMAST research project studying nitrous oxide cycling
Left to right: SMAST's Mark Altabet and Annie Bourbonnais with Habei Hu and Anne Cruz on an expedition to the low-oxygen waters off western Mexico.

The National Science Foundation awarded a $290,608 grant to Annie Bourbonnais, research assistant professor at UMass Dartmouth’s School for Marine Science & Technology (SMAST), for her project studying nitrous oxide cycling in the Western Arctic Ocean.

Nitrous oxide (N2O) is a potent greenhouse gas in the troposphere, which is the lowest layer of the Earth’s atmosphere. It is also an ozone-depleting substance in the next layer up, the stratosphere. Its sources and sinks in the ocean, however, are neither well quantified nor well understood.

Measuring both shelf and offshore waters to estimate N2O cycling in the Arctic

The project will use measurements from both shelf and offshore waters to estimate N2O cycling in the Arctic. The data will then be used to evaluate the pathways of N2O production and determine how these processes influence N2O exchanges between the surface layer and the atmosphere. The measurements will also serve as a baseline for future assessment of change.

Additionally, the project will have many educational benefits, said Mark A. Altabet, professor and chair of the SMAST Department of Estuarine and Ocean Sciences. It will provide summer research opportunities for undergraduate students and will be used to develop seminars for elementary school teachers, as well as short classroom presentations and after-school programs for at-risk youth.

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