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Award Detail

Doing Business As Name:University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth
  • Steven E Lohrenz
  • (508) 910-6550
Award Date:10/31/2017
Estimated Total Award Amount: $ 34,232
Funds Obligated to Date: $ 34,232
  • FY 2018=$34,232
Start Date:11/01/2017
End Date:10/31/2018
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:Collaborative Research: A RAPID response to Hurricane Harvey's impacts on coastal carbon cycle, metabolic balance and ocean acidification
Federal Award ID Number:1760509
DUNS ID:799477427
Parent DUNS ID:079520631
Program:Chemical Oceanography
Program Officer:
  • Henrietta Edmonds
  • (703) 292-7427

Awardee Location

Street:285 Old Westport Road
City:North Dartmouth
County:North Dartmouth
Awardee Cong. District:09

Primary Place of Performance

Organization Name:University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth
Street:836 South Rodney French Blvd
City:New Bedford
County:New Bedford
Cong. District:09

Abstract at Time of Award

Understanding how extreme events, like hurricanes, impact coastal ecosystems and the cycling of elements like carbon and oxygen, is important for improving our ability to predict how the global carbon cycle will respond to climate. This team of investigators, who have already been working together on understanding the carbon cycle in the Gulf of Mexico continental shelves, have important recent data against which to measure the effects of the passage of Hurricane Harvey in August, 2017. They will sample the waters and sediments of the northwestern Gulf of Mexico in September, October, and January to assess Harvey's impacts on a timescale of weeks to months. The researchers pose three specific questions: 1. Will the region become a major source of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere, releasing carbon accumulated in the bottom water and sediments, and will this potential impact be faster and greater than during normal fall and winter mixing events? Will this process acidify the surface water and for how long? 2. Will the metabolic balance be substantially pushed toward net heterotrophy as a result of the storm in comparison to other years? 3. Can the amount of material delivered or redeposited across the continental shelf by a tropical cyclone be considerably larger than that related to winter storm systems? The PIs will measure water column nutrients, oxygen, organic carbon, and inorganic carbon system parameters; determine water column and benthic metabolic and nutrient flux rates; and sediment organic matter deposition rates. They will also collect end member river samples. They will compare the immediate (mid-Sept) but limited post-hurricane data and one-month post-hurricane, more detailed data with those collected in July and April to study the impacts of the storms. they will also compare 2017-2018 seasonal data to seasonal data over the same region collected in the past (2006-2008 and 2009-2010). They will also compare the impacts of Hurricane Harvey to those of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita (2005) and Tropical Storm Cindy (June 2017). The project will involve graduate and postdoctoral research and work to communicate results to the public.

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.

The overarching major scientific goal of this collaborative project was to discern impacts of a major storm event (Hurricane Harvey) on carbon cycling, community metabolism, and phytoplankton community composition. The effort comprised an examination of post-hurricane conditions in the northern Gulf of Mexico following Hurricane Harvey and comparison to available pre- and post-hurricane observations related to carbon and nutrient cycles, metabolic balance, ocean acidification and phytoplankton biomass and community composition.

The specific goals of this PI?s portion of the project were the following:

1. To utilize a combination of satellite ocean color and ship-based observations to characterize regional patterns in carbon properties and phytoplankton biomass and community composition associated with the passage of Hurricane Harvey.

2. To examine and compare these new observations with data acquired prior to the storm and during similar times of the year from past studies in the same region.

3. To examine analogous sets of observations acquired after hurricanes Katrina and Rita in the same region of the northern Gulf of Mexico.

Total chlorophyll a concentrations as determined using High Pressure Liquid Chromatography (HPLC)  were relatively higher for mid-shelf and offshore stations during Sep/Oct 2017 (post-storm) as compared to a previous cruise in July 2009. This was a possible indication of storm-induced enhancement of phytoplankton productivity in shelf waters. 

An examination of the phytoplankton size class fraction for microplankton based on the Uitz et al. (2006) algorithm during Sep/Oct 2017 similarly revealed higher fractions of microplankton near the river outflow regions, but also extending along the inner shelf. This same general pattern was evident during July 2009, although the higher microplankton fractions extended over a wider area during Sep/Oct 2017.

A comparison of pre- (Aug 13-21) and post-storm (Aug 28 - Sep 5) satellite observations revealed a more extensive region of high chlorophyll in the area corresponding to the storm track. This pattern was also evident for the pre- and post-storm and cruise period microplankton fractions, with a more extensive area of higher microplankton fractions in the vicinity of the storm track during the post-storm and cruise periods compared to the pre-storm conditions. 

The results from this effort demonstrated a significant impact of Hurricane Harvey on chlorophyll concentrations and phytoplankton community composition when comparing pre- and post-storm conditions. Such changes likely have consequences for carbon and nutrient cycling and ongoing efforts with collaborators will provide a more detailed assessment of this. 

Last Modified: 02/12/2019
Modified by: Steven E Lohrenz

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