The Southern Ocean that encircles Antarctica lends a considerable hand in keeping Earth’s temperature hospitable by soaking up half of the human-made carbon in the atmosphere and a majority of the planet’s excess heat.
Yet, the inner workings — and global importance — of this ocean that accounts for 30 percent of the world’s ocean area remain relatively unknown to scientists, as dangerous seas have hindered observations.
Princeton University and 10 partner institutions seek to make the Southern Ocean better known scientifically and publicly through a $21 million program that will create a biogeochemical and physical portrait of the ocean using hundreds of robotic floats deployed around Antarctica.
In addition, NASA awarded $600,000 to the University of Maine, in collaboration with Rutgers University and scientists from the above project, for a complementary project that equips the floats with bio-optical sensors that gather data about biological processes in the water column.
UMaine oceanographer Emmanuel Boss, an expert in marine optics and in the use of optical sensors to study ocean biogeochemistry, is leading the companion project.
The Southern Ocean Carbon and Climate Observations and Modeling program, or SOCCOM, is a six-year initiative headquartered at Princeton and funded by the National Science Foundation’s Division of Polar Programs, with additional support from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and NASA.
“SOCCOM will enable top scientists from institutions around the country to work together on Southern Ocean research in ways that would not otherwise be possible,” says SOCCOM director Jorge Sarmiento, Princeton’s George J. Magee Professor of Geoscience and Geological Engineering and director of the Program in Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences.
“The scarcity of observations in the Southern Ocean and inadequacy of earlier models, combined with its importance to the Earth’s carbon and climate systems, mean there is tremendous potential for groundbreaking research in this region,” Sarmiento says.
About 200 floats outfitted with biogeochemical sensors that provide near-continuous information related to the ocean’s carbon, nutrient (nitrate, in particular) and oxygen content, both at and deep beneath the surface, are central to the study.
The floats are augmented biogeochemical versions of the nearly 4,000 Argo floats deployed worldwide to measure ocean salinity and temperature. SOCCOM marks the first large-scale deployment of these biogeochemical floats.
“These floats are revolutionary and this major new observational initiative will give us unprecedented year-round coverage of biogeochemistry in the Southern Ocean,” Sarmiento says.
The floats will increase the monthly data currently coming out of the Southern Ocean by 10 to 30 times, Sarmiento says.
The data will be used to improve recently developed high-resolution earth-system models, which will advance understanding of the Southern Ocean and allow for projections of Earth’s climate and biogeochemical trajectory.
Boss says the additional optical sensors measure backscattering of light, which provides information about particles — including bacteria and phytoplankton in the water — and measure chlorophyll fluorescence — a pigment unique to phytoplankton.
The information will help NASA verify data that its satellites glean daily, extend the product to depth, and help improve currently used algorithms.
In keeping with SOCCOM’s knowledge sharing, or “broader impacts,” component, all the information collected will be freely available to the public, researchers and industry.
SOCCOM will provide direct observations to further understand the importance of the Southern Ocean as suggested by models and ocean studies. Aside from carbon and heat uptake, models have indicated the Southern Ocean delivers nutrients to lower-latitude surface waters that are critical to ocean ecosystems around the world.
In addition, the impacts of ocean acidification as levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere increase are projected to be most severe in the Southern Ocean.
Boss says the Southern Ocean — the second smallest of the planet’s five primary oceans — has a disproportionate role in climate regulation. Carbon stored deep in the ocean comes to the surface here and some is released into the atmosphere — however, given the increase in atmospheric CO2 in past decades, much less is released than would be expected.
He says there is still much to learn about this ocean’s significant role in climate regulation.
“It’s a hard area to study,” Boss says of the ocean that encircles Antarctica. “Because there are no barriers, the current is extremely strong. It has some of the roughest seas in the world.”
Other than administering the project, Sarmiento and other Princeton researchers will co-lead the modeling and broader impacts components, as well as coordinated data management. Researchers from NOAA’s Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory housed on Princeton’s Forrestal Campus will carry out high-resolution earth-system simulations in support of the modeling effort, which is led by the University of Arizona and includes collaborators from the University of Miami.
The floats will be constructed at the University of Washington with sensors from the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute; NOAA’s Climate Program Office will provide half of the basic Argo floats. Float deployment, observation analysis and data assimilation will be led by the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California-San Diego. Climate Central, a nonprofit science and journalism organization based in Princeton, will oversee the broader-impacts component. Researchers from Oregon State University and NOAA will develop the floats’ carbon algorithms.
Contact: Beth Staples, 207.581.3777
The Bangor Daily News spoke with Rhian Waller, an associate research professor at the University of Maine’s School of Marine Sciences, for an article about scientists discovering “spectacular” formations of deep sea corals in the Gulf of Maine. Waller was part of a team of researchers that used a remotely controlled submersible vehicle this summer to find “dense hanging gardens” of coral in the Schoodic Ridges region of the Gulf, according to the article. “It was a great find for us,” Waller said. “We did not expect to find such large colonies.” She said documenting the extent and location of coral is scientifically important because coral often serves as habitat for other marine species that are environmentally and economically significant.
MyNorthwest.com reported Seattle’s Burke Museum would like to bring a native mask to town that may be the inspiration of the original team logo for the NFL’s Seattle Seahawks. The artifact is part of the William P. Palmer III collection at the University of Maine’s Hudson Museum. The wooden Northwest Coast transformation mask depicts a bird of prey when closed and reveals a painted depiction of a human face when opened. According to the article, the Hudson Museum has agreed to lend the mask to the Seattle museum. To get the mask to Seattle, the Burke Museum launched a fundraising campaign seeking $7,500 to pay for costs associated with shipping.
The Associated Press cited statistics from the Lobster Institute at the University of Maine for an article about a Bethel, Maine bait and tackle shop owner who found a calico-colored lobster. The woman said the crustacean, which is covered in orange blotches, appeared in a crate of lobsters brought from the Pemaquid Lobster Co-op in Bristol last weekend. According to the Lobster Institute, the odds of finding a calico lobster are about one in 30 million. The lobster, named Freckles, will be donated to the Maine State Aquarium in West Boothbay Harbor, the report states. The Maine Public Broadcasting Network, Portland Press Herald, Salon, U-T San Diego and Fox News carried the AP report.
Henry Garfield, an adjunct professor in the University of Maine’s English Department, wrote an article for Bangor Metro about the evolution of online learning and today’s virtual classroom. Garfield quoted several UMaine community members, including Andrei Strukov, director of the Faculty Development Center; Gail Garthwait, an associate professor of instructional technology; Duane Shimmel, a faculty technology consultant; and Nate Swan, an undergraduate majoring in computer science. Garthwait said she thinks students work harder in online classes. “The work is out there for everyone to see, and nobody can hide in the back of the room,” she said. Swan said he can’t imagine taking a course like thermodynamics online. “Unless there’s a face-to-face media component, you don’t learn nearly as much in an online class,” he said.
Mark Brewer, a political science professor at the University of Maine, was quoted in a Portland Press Herald article titled, “Candidates to get more TV time as November elections draw near.” Brewer said that so far, the content of the ads has followed a predictable pattern for a gubernatorial election. “Everything I’ve seen has been relatively well done, which is not surprising given the dynamics of the race,” Brewer said. “Generally the arc of campaign ads is, you see the positive, warm-and-fuzzy stuff at the beginning. As we get closer, there will likely be more specifics in ads and also more attacks, because negative still works.” Brewer also spoke about the importance of keeping positive ads within a candidate’s campaign and letting others, such as political action committees, handle the negative ads.
A free training workshop for women interested in political campaigns who want to sharpen leadership skills will be held Saturday, Sept. 27 at Wells Conference Center on the University of Maine campus.
Elect Her — Campus Women Win participants will learn leadership skills and basics of running a successful student government campaign, as well as meet local campaign winners.
The event, which runs from 10:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., is co-hosted by UMaine, the American Association of University Women (AAUW) and Running Start. Complementary breakfast, lunch and refreshments will be served.
The Maine Public Broadcasting Network spoke with George Markowsky, a computer science professor at the University of Maine, for the report, “Advocates: Maine bringing up the rear in digital services race.” Markowsky said he remembers when Maine was a leader in building Internet access across the country, but today, he says, “We are dead last in the United States.” Markowsky said the state’s political leaders must develop public-private partnerships to build out a fiber network that reaches all types of businesses and individuals.
WVII (Channel 7) reported the University of Maine chapter of the Gamma Sigma Sigma service sorority is taking part in a challenge throughout September to help raise awareness of childhood cancer and funds to support related research. The sorority is a supporter of Alex’s Million Mile, a campaign based from the Pennsylvania nonprofit, Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation. ALSF began was formed after 4-year-old cancer patient Alexandra “Alex” Scott announced she wanted to hold a lemonade stand to raise money to help find a cure for all children with cancer, according to the foundation’s website. After her passing in 2004, the Million Mile challenge was formed. “The idea is that the parent of a child with cancer will go a million miles for their child,” said Jessica Moore, a UMaine student and Gamma Sigma Sigma member. “We’re trying to gather that type of support.”
Mark Brewer, a political science professor at the University of Maine, was quoted in a Bangor Daily News analysis titled, “Will person-to-person Maine politics be the next victim of secret smartphone recordings?” The article focused on recent reports about a secret recording of Democratic Sen. Geoffrey Gratwick of Bangor that was made while he was campaigning door-to-door. The recording, which was circulated by the Maine Republican Party, has Gratwick voicing support for independent gubernatorial candidate Eliot Cutler and questioning the intelligence of Democratic nominee Mike Michaud, according to the article. “You would assume at some point that politicians and other public figures are going to learn that in today’s technological age, that virtually anything you do or say has the possibility of showing up on YouTube,” Brewer said. Sun Journal also carried the BDN report.
The Margaret Chase Smith Public Affairs Scholarships for 2014–2015 have been awarded to two University of Maine undergraduates pursuing independent research.
Joshua Paredes, a marketing major from Bangor, Maine, will study the effectiveness of public health marketing strategies for hazing prevention. He will work with the National Collaborative for Hazing Research and Prevention.
Jesse Clark, a political science major from Calais, Maine, will use computer modeling to explore the impact of gerrymandering for his project titled “Determining an Expected House Majority Using Pattern Analysis.” He will work with UMaine political science and spatial information science and engineering researchers.
The scholarships are awarded annually for independent undergraduate research on a topic of public policy relevance. Students in all majors are eligible. Sen. Margaret Chase Smith’s abiding belief was that real progress would be attained through the education of young people. In honor of Sen. Smith’s many years of service to the citizens of Maine and to the nation, this scholarship provides assistance to undergraduates who have demonstrated an active interest in public affairs and who show promise for future leadership in, and contribution to, public affairs.
More information is online.
University of Maine Cooperative Extension has updated its classic publication explaining why leaves change color in autumn.
While some people believe frost causes the color explosion, some leaves begin to turn red, orange or yellow even before the first frost. In Bulletin 7078, Facts About Leaf Color in Maine, UMaine Extension Professor Kathryn Hopkins explains the science of fall foliage. The bulletin also includes leaf projects that can be done at home and in the classroom.
University of Maine President Susan Hunter joined University of Maine Foundation President Jeffery Mills for the University of Maine Foundation Scholarship Recognition Reception Aug. 20 in Falmouth. The reception was held to thank scholarship donors and honor recipients from southern Maine. UMaine 2014 graduate Kimberly Dao was the guest speaker. Dao spoke about her personal experiences with scholarship support and her transition to medical school at Tufts University. Gorham Savings Bank President Chris Emmons represented the Southern Maine Executives Club of the University of Maine and provided the welcome. A similar event is planned on the University of Maine campus Oct. 17 as part of Homecoming weekend.
Jeff Hecker, executive vice president for academic affairs and provost at the University of Maine, wrote an opinion piece for the Bangor Daily News titled “No quick fixes for keeping students in college.” Hecker cited his newly released 2014 Action Plan for Retention and Graduation to kickstart the university’s renewed commitment to student success. The plan has several components, starting with a focus on early action, Hecker wrote.
WABI (Channel 5) spoke with University of Maine student Matt Dexter about his participation in 4K for Cancer — a 4,000-mile team run from San Francisco, California, to Baltimore, Maryland, to raise awareness of cancer and raise money for cancer research. For 42 days during the summer, Dexter and more than 20 other college students ran about 10 miles a day. On rest days, the students visited cancer patients at hospitals and performed service projects. “Meeting the people at the hospitals — that, I think was the best part and the hardest part of the run,” said Dexter, whose mother died from cancer when he was 13. “Four-thousand miles of running aside; hearing their stories, having your own emotions coming up, your past coming out, and just reflecting on why you’re doing what you’re doing, really sums up the whole trip.” Dexter raised nearly $7,300 in donations, exceeding his goal of $5,000.
The Associated Press reported technology developed by the University of Maine is being used by a Vermont Transportation Agency program that aims to cut construction time, save money and reduce the backlog of bridges that need replacement. Last month, construction crews placed a series of hollow tubes over the Wanzer Brook in Fairfield, Vermont. The composite arch bridge, known as Bridge-in-a-BackpackTM, was developed at the University of Maine Advanced Structures and Composites Center. Sun Journal, Burlington Free Press and Fox Business carried the AP report.
The Maine Edge published a University of Maine report about an upcoming talk on the role of women in war by Clark University political scientist Cynthia Enloe. The award-winning scholar specializing in feminism, politics and global affairs will discuss “Where are Women in Violent Conflicts? Finding out will Make us Smarter!” at 6 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 16, in Minsky Recital Hall. She plans to address situations in Syria, Ukraine, Gaza and Israel during the free, public lecture.
The Portland Press Herald and Bangor Daily News reported U.S. News & World Report recently released its latest rankings on nearly 1,800 schools nationwide. The news magazine considered measures of academic excellence, including acceptance rates, strength of faculty and average student debt. The University of Maine was ranked 173 on the Best National Universities list.
Mark Brewer, a political science professor at the University of Maine, was quote in a Portland Press Herald article about the Maine Republican Party and the campaign of U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud, the Democratic candidate for governor, arguing over advertisements that both say contain false claims and want pulled from the air. “Campaigns still overwhelmingly drop their money into TV. That tells you that TV is still a dominant player in influencing voter choice and moving public opinion,” Brewer said.
The University of Maine Department of Art is accepting applications for the fall 2014 session of after-school art classes for area children in grades K–8.
The ArtWorks! program provides children an opportunity to explore the world of art through: hands-on experiences with a variety of visual media, the history of art, and the viewing of art.
Classes will be held in Lord Hall on the UMaine campus from 3:30–5 p.m. Fridays, Oct. 17 through Nov. 14. A $25 fee covers the cost of materials, and a limited number of scholarships are available. Applications are online and will be accepted until Oct. 3.
The program consists of four teaching sessions and one children’s exhibition. The lessons are taught by art education students under the supervision of art professor Constant Albertson. Class sections are organized by age or grade level, and are limited to 22 students per group. Acceptance is determined on a first come, first served basis.
Parents or guardians are responsible for transportation to and from the program.
For more information, call Albertson at 207.581.3251 or email email@example.com.