Climate Change Solutions
Forecasts about how our planet might change due to increases in greenhouse gasses and global warming are making headlines. We are told to expect sea levels to rise, coastal communities to flood, storm systems to intensify, weather patterns to shift. Entire ecosystems will be threatened as plants and animals are suddenly maladapted when seasonal patterns shift from rising temperatures in coming decades.
These predictions stem from the work of scientists who investigate the full-scale workings of our planet, its oceans, land surfaces, polar ice caps, and atmosphere. Over the last two decades, as evidence of global warming has gain more mainstream acceptance, the relatively new discipline of diagnosing the consequences of human industry on the entire planet has evolved into a red-hot research field.
UMass Dartmouth experts are pushing the envelope of planetary climate modeling, looking closely at ocean influences and coastal ecosystems to produce a more detailed and accurate understanding of how our world works than ever before. The predictability for Earth's climate system depends largely on our understanding of physical processes and integration of those processes in numerical models.
Where Ocean and Atmosphere Interact
Oceans cover 71 percent of the Earth's surface, impacting climate perhaps like no other element of our planet. They have traditionally cleansed the air of massive amounts of carbon dioxide. Oceans have also been a determining force in weather patterns by driving cold and warm air masses on their currents. Scientist are seeking to understand how greenhouse gasses and water pollution are altering our oceans by making careful measurements and applying them to physical formulas. In this way, they are working to predict with greater accuracy the future of our global climate system.
Current Research: Physics and Biology of Ocean Eddies
Ocean circulation at the scale of entire ocean basins is well understood. At the mesoscale level, which looks at eddies spanning hundreds of kilometres, ocean circulation is less well understood. Whirling masses of ocean currents affect how the ocean distributes heat and freshwater. Currents also affect how, when and where phytoplankton bloom and get moved around. These blooms support a complex food web in the ocean and absorb carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas. Taking a close look at ocean eddies at 1-100km sub-mesoscales is important both for sustaining ocean life and also for more accurate global climate change predictions. UMass Dartmouth Associate Professor of Physics Amit Tandon works on the physics of the ocean at this detailed scale. He frequently collaborates with scientists at BU, MIT, UCLA, Princeton University, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution for this work. The work is already showing that oceanic fronts between the eddies have very significant vertical transport in the water column. It remains to be seen if they contribute to large plankton blooms. Dr. Tandon and his fellow researchers are contributing to a body of knowledge necessary for understanding sustainability of ocean life and leading to more accurate global climate change predictions.
Contact: Professor Amit Tandon, Department of Physics, http://www.umassd.edu/engineering/phy/
Current Research: Climate Change and Marine Ecosystems
Virtually everybody has heard about the Pacific ocean-and-atmosphere weather interaction popularly called "El Nino." But, few have heard about a similar Atlantic phenomenon called the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO). Drs. Avijit Gangopadhyay and James Bisagni of Physics Department and the School for Marine Science and Technology are investigating the NAO and its influence on both climate change and on marine ecosystems. Using computer models and ocean observations, they are exploring suspected links between NAO air currents, the path of the Gulf Stream, and resulting weather patterns from eastern North America to eastern Asia.
Current Research: Oceanographic Energy and Forecasting Technologies
The UMass Dartmouth School of Marine Sciences and Technologies is collaborating with UMass Boston to establish a Center of Excellence in Applied Ocean Observation Systems (COEX). The Center will explore ocean-based energy development using unmanned underwater vehicles and sensor platforms. It will also futher scientific understanding of environmental forecasting using IT networks to disseminate real-time information. COEX aims to create practical instruments for protecting valuable estuarine and coastal ocean ecosystems. The project is supported by the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative and Mass Insight Corporation.
Contact: Dr. Avijit Gangopadhyay, firstname.lastname@example.org
School for Marine Science and Technology, www.smast.umassd.edu
Publications: How Climate Change Will Impact Ocean Life
UMass Dartmouth has been continuously participating in GLOBEC, the core project of the International Geosphere-Biosphere Programme (IGBP) responsible for understanding how global change will affect the abundance, diversity and productivity of marine populations. Among the research publications authored by UMass Dartmouth investigators for GLOBEC are:
Collaborative Research: GLOBEC Pan Regional Synthesis: The Effect of Varying Freshwater Inputs on Regional Ecosystems in the North Atlantic (A. Gangopadhyay, J. Bisagni [University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth]; D. Haidvogel, E. Curchitser [Rutgers University New Brunswick]; F. Chai [University of Maine])
Collaborative Research: Copepods in a Warming Climate: A Pan-Regional Model of Arctic and Northwest Atlantic Systems (C. Davis, R. Beardsley, R. Ji [Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution]; C. Chen [University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth])