Studying the ocean’s global nitrogen cycle

UMass Dartmouth Professor of Estuarine and Ocean Sciences Dr. Mark Altabet awarded for research that looks at how global nitrogen cycling influences coastal environments and climate change.

Nitrogen is a chemical element required by all living things. As it cycles through the atmosphere and ocean environments, nitrogen is converted into a series of chemical forms that vary in how they are used by organisms.

Dr. Mark Altabet is involved in several projects that focus on how nitrogen cycling occurs both in coastal ecosystems and the open ocean as well as the interactions between global nitrogen cycling and climate change.

Examining the ocean's global nitrogen cycle

He is the recipient of a $34,760 award from the University of Washington (second year of a two-year award totaling $75,399 for the collaborative project “Profiling Sensor to Map N2 Gas Production in Oxygen Minimum Zones (OMZs).” OMZs are important regulators of the ocean’s global nitrogen cycle and the goal of this project is to develop new technology for measuring the loss of bioavailable nitrogen nutrients from OMZs.

The National Science Foundation has also awarded Altabet $53,289 for his project “GEOTRACES Arctic Ocean Section, Constraining Nitrogen Fluxes and Transformations using Natural Stable Isotope and Dissolved Gas Tracers,” which uses measurements from shelf and offshore waters to study nitrogen cycling in the Arctic Ocean. The data will determine the importance of the Arctic Ocean to the ocean’s global nitrogen cycle. This is the third installment of the three-year award totaling $174,607.

Developing methods to improve water quality 

In addition to his research, Altabet is also the developer of a new cost-efficient method for identifying sources of excess levels of nitrates in marine and fresh waters. “Countries around the globe are affected by nitrate contamination,” said Altabet. “The goal of this tool is to aid water-quality improvement in impacted areas around the world.” Learn more.

Mark Altabet is Chair and Professor of Estuarine and Ocean Sciences at UMass Dartmouth's School for Marine Science & Technology. Altabet earned his PhD from Harvard University in 1984 and joined the faculty of UMass Dartmouth in 1994.

News and Public Information, Research, School for Marine Science and Technology