National Science Foundation awards grant to School for Marine Science & Technology researcher

Three-year study based on nitrous oxide cycling will provide relevant data to the Arctic science community and contribute to STEM workforce development

Research Assistant Professor Annie Bourbonnais

The National Science Foundation (NSF) has awarded a grant in the amount of $290,608 to Annie Bourbonnais, Research Assistant Professor at UMass Dartmouth’s School for Marine Science & Technology (SMAST), for her project titled "Nitrous oxide cycling in the Western Arctic Ocean from stable isotopic and concentration data."       

Nitrous oxide (N2O) is a potent greenhouse gas in the troposphere (the lowest layer of the Earth’s atmosphere) and an ozone-depleting substance in the stratosphere (the layer of the Earth’s atmosphere above the troposphere), yet its sources and sinks in the ocean are neither well-quantified nor well understood. The primary goal of the project is to evaluate nitrous oxide (N2O) cycling in the Western Arctic Ocean from its concentrations, stable isotopes, and isotopomers.

The project will use measurements from both shelf and offshore waters to constrain estimates of 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. 

In addition to developing an important baseline data set for the Arctic science community, the project will contribute to STEM workforce development in various ways. “It will support an early-career woman scientist during the formative years of her career, and it will provide summer educational research opportunities to undergraduate students,” says Mark A. Altabet, Professor and Chair of the Department of Estuarine and Ocean Sciences at SMAST. “It will also develop seminars for elementary school teachers and provide short classroom presentations at a local public school and contribute to an afterschool non-profit effort devoted to providing high quality educational programs to at risk youth.”

The award begins July 1, 2016 and ends June 30, 2019.    

School for Marine Science and Technology, Research