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Award Detail

Doing Business As Name:Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution
  • Elizabeth B Kujawinski
  • (508) 289-3493
  • Krista Longnecker
Award Date:02/02/2012
Estimated Total Award Amount: $ 932,099
Funds Obligated to Date: $ 932,099
  • FY 2012=$932,099
Start Date:02/15/2012
End Date:01/31/2016
Transaction Type:Grant
Awarding Agency Code:4900
Funding Agency Code:4900
CFDA Number:47.050
Primary Program Source:040100 NSF RESEARCH & RELATED ACTIVIT
Award Title or Description:Dissolved Organic Matter Composition in the Deep Atlantic Ocean
Federal Award ID Number:1154320
DUNS ID:001766682
Parent DUNS ID:001766682
Program:Chemical Oceanography
Program Officer:
  • Henrietta Edmonds
  • (703) 292-7427

Awardee Location

County:Woods Hole
Awardee Cong. District:09

Primary Place of Performance

Organization Name:Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution
Street:266 Woods Hole Road, MS 4
City:Woods Hole
County:Woods Hole
Cong. District:09

Abstract at Time of Award

Transformations of dissolved organic matter (DOM) in the deep ocean have profound impacts on the global carbon cycle due to the sequestration of carbon dioxide (CO2) away from the atmosphere. Although research has been conducted on the high molecular weight component of this material, the same cannot be said for low molecular weight DOM because the needed analytical techniques have not been available to determine its composition and reactivity. In recent years, a research team at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution has acquired the necessary analytical capability. As such, in this project, they will carry out the first systematic survey of deep ocean DOM in the western Atlantic Ocean to characterize the low molecular weight fraction of DOM in southward flowing North Atlantic Deep Water (NADW), northward flowing Antarctic Bottom Water (AABW), and Antarctic Intermediate Water (AAIW). Using ultrahigh resolution mass spectrometry and multi-stage fragmentation coupled to liquid chromatography, the scientists will determine the spatial variability in the composition of DOM along the flow path of the water masses, as well as assess the source water, transport, and surface processes that contribute to temporal changes in DOM composition. These results will be augmented with structural elucidation and quantitative assays of unique marker compounds for each water mass. Results will provide important insights into the biogeochemical reactions that govern DOM dynamics in the deep ocean. The broader impacts component of the proposal was well developed. Besides supporting and training one graduate student, as part of their outreach efforts, the proponents plan to develop and teach a new class on ultrahigh resolution mass spectrometry for graduate students and postdocs. This class would provide them with hands-on experience and teach them to run samples on various mass spectrometers. In addition, the proponents plan to create a fund to train students and postdocs on the use of multivariate statistical tools for data processing and interpretation.

Project Outcomes Report


This Project Outcomes Report for the General Public is displayed verbatim as submitted by the Principal Investigator (PI) for this award. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this Report are those of the PI and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation; NSF has not approved or endorsed its content.

Dissolved organic matter is a reduced form of organic carbon that serves as a carbon and energy source for marine microorganisms. This research project sought to characterize the type of organic matter found in the deep sea, where three-quarters of marine dissolved organic matter is stored. The project advanced our understanding of organic compounds found in the deep sea by developing the use of novel analytical tools that provide structural information, a significant advance over the elemental formulas (how many carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, oxygen, and other elements are found within each molecule) provided by existing methods. Our results reveal that these new tools are required in order to define spatial variability in dissolved organic matter in marine ecosystems. The elemental formula information is not sufficient to characterize the complex mixture of organic compounds found in seawater. Based on the structural information, some of the organic compounds are correlated to variability in cellular biomass. However, other compounds showed maximum values at deeper water depths within the water column. Thus, the composition of dissolved organic compounds is not simply a function of depth in the water column.

Beyond the realm of research, the project also contributed to the broader community. The research team presented two classes for graduate students and postdocs on the use of ultrahigh resolution mass spectrometry in the analysis of dissolved organic matter. In addition, one-on-one assistance with data analysis helped make mass spectrometry data more accessible to students, postdocs, and scientists outside of Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. The project also comprised a portion of the research conducted by a graduate student within the Kujawinski laboratory. The research cruise in 2013 also provided mentoring activities as 8 graduate students and 4 postdocs participated in the cruise, and 1st, 3rd, and 5th grade classrooms in Massachusetts were able to interact directly with scientists before the cruise and during live conversations in the middle of the cruise. Beyond the classroom setting, participants from the 2013 cruise and graduate students and postdocs in the Kujawinski laboratory participated in science fair activities in Woods Hole and New York City. Finally, a female graduate student was a major participant in this project and the research comprises half of her dissertation research.

Last Modified: 04/27/2016
Modified by: Elizabeth B Kujawinski

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