Research Topics

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Dr. Kristen Buck


Research in the Buck lab is geared toward investigating the biogeochemical cycling of trace metals in the oceans and, in particular, the role of organic ligands in the bioavailability and cycling of the bioactive trace metals iron and copper.  Buck’s research in the Southern Ocean is directed primarily at improving understanding of the chemistry of iron, which serves as a limiting nutrient to phytoplankton in these waters.  An ongoing collaboration with Bethany Jenkins (URI) and Dreux Chappell (ODU) is designed to investigate the feedback interactions between phytoplankton communities, nutrient conditions, and the physicochemical speciation of iron in the open waters of the Antarctic Circumpolar Current, as compared to the coastal waters of the West Antarctic Peninsula. This current work is funded by the National Science Foundation and employs a combination of field sampling, shipboard incubation experiments, and laboratory-based manipulation experiments.


Dr. Don Chambers


Dr. Chambers, his students, and research staff study several aspects of the changing physical state of the Southern Ocean and Antarctica, including: sea level contribution from Antarctica ice sheet melting, changes in the circulation of the Antarctic Circumpolar Current over time-periods of several years to a decade or longer, long-term changes in the eddy kinetic energy throughout the Southern Ocean, and identification of fronts and jets in the Southern Ocean. They mainly use satellite data (altimetry, gravity, winds, and sea surface temperature), but also use data from in situ observations including the Argo array, CTDs, tide gauges, and bottom pressure sensors.


Dr. Kendra Daly


Dr. Daly has investigated questions related to polar marine ecosystems for more than three decades.  Her group seeks to improve understanding of the ecology and physiology of polar marine organisms, including their role in biogeochemical cycles, their interactions within the marine food web, and community dynamics in relation to their environment. For example, studies include the overwintering physiology and survivorship of Antarctic krill in relation to sea ice and the role of bottom-up and top-down forcing on the marine food web in McMurdo Sound, which is one of the few places on the planet with relatively undisturbed top predator populations. These investigations have addressed questions related to the response of Antarctic ecosystems to human activity and climate change in the Scotia-Weddell seas, Antarctic Peninsula, Bellingshausen Sea, Ross Sea, and McMurdo Sound using a variety of ship-based, shore-based, and remote sensing technologies, such as satellites, acoustic and camera imaging systems, and remotely operated vehicles (ROVs).


Dr. Eugene Domack


Over the last three decades (actually since 1978) Dr. Domack’s group has focused on understanding past fluctuations of the Antarctic ice sheet, particularly the response of the Late Quaternary system to both climate and sea level forcing, using marine geologic archives. Along this journey his group has advanced the use of radiocarbon dating in the marine system and how it can be used to decipher both the age of sedimentary materials and the complexities of ocean biotic interaction. In the last decade, their work has centered along the northern Antarctic Peninsula and the dramatic response of ice shelves (The Larsen Ice Shelf System) to rapid regional warming. In this endeavor they have developed and deployed a network of bedrock cGPS sensors and automated weather stations which they use to evaluate the meteorological patterns of the regional warming and the rebound of the earth’s crust to loss of glacial ice from the continent. More recently they have expanded their geologic perspective to examine the longer-term changes in the ice sheet as it developed in the Cenozoic, from sections recovered along the East Antarctic margin.


Dr. Brad Rosenheim


Dr. Rosenheim is a geochemist with interest in improving Antarctic sediment chronology and developing cold-water paleothermometers.  He has developed a separation method to more accurately date sediments of the last deglaciation, enabling a regional approach to chronicling the last deglaciation.  Prior to the development of the Ramped PyrOx approach, cores were primarily dated using carbonates, which are only seldom preserved in Antarctic margin sediments.  By developing a method that dates the organic matter in the sediment by separating old, contaminant organic matter, researchers can now make better use of cores that contain the glacial-deglacial sequence of sediment facies.  Additionally, he has been at the forefront of calibrating clumped isotopes in carbonate minerals to temperature.  Working on cold-water corals and other carbonate skeletons enables a better understanding of the cold-water end of this calibration that has proven troublesome in previous work.


Dr. Amelia Shevenell 


Ongoing interdisciplinary geochemical research in the Shevenell laboratory seeks to understand oceanic drivers of Antarctic ice dynamics on decadal to million year timescales, using marine sediment archives from both the deep Southern Ocean (ice-distal) and from Antarctica’s continental margins (ice-proximal). Our group employs inorganic and organic geochemical and micropaleontologic (foraminifera) paleoceanographic proxies for ocean temperature, ice volume, bottom water oxygen, and nutrients to determine both the evolution of the Southern Ocean system and to track the past influence of warm, nutrient-rich Circumpolar Deep Water on Antarctica’s marine terminating ice sheets during climatic warmings (e.g. the Miocene Climatic Optimum, the last deglaciation, and during the Holocene). Our work demonstrates a persistent link between Southern Ocean temperatures and Antarctic ice mass balance on geologic timescales. We are particularly interested in understanding the influence of the Southern Hemisphere Westerly Winds and tropical Pacific Ocean-Antarctic climate teleconnections on the rapid retreat of West and East Antarctic ice streams during the last deglaciation.


Isotope ratio mass spectrometry

Radiocarbon dating by Ramped PyrOx

Satellite Oceanography

Ecosystems Laboratory – Coming Soon

Chemical Oceanography – Coming Soon

ICP-MS Preparation Laboratory – Coming Soon

Marine Geology – Coming Soon

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