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Research Spending & Results

Award Detail

Awardee:UNIVERSITY OF CONNECTICUT
Doing Business As Name:University of Connecticut
PD/PI:
  • Julie Granger
  • (609) 751-6891
  • julie.granger@UConn.edu
Co-PD(s)/co-PI(s):
  • Samantha A Siedlecki
Award Date:08/17/2019
Estimated Total Award Amount: $ 512,930
Funds Obligated to Date: $ 512,930
  • FY 2019=$512,930
Start Date:09/01/2019
End Date:08/31/2022
Transaction Type:Grant
Agency:NSF
Awarding Agency Code:4900
Funding Agency Code:4900
CFDA Number:47.050
Primary Program Source:040100 NSF RESEARCH & RELATED ACTIVIT
Award Title or Description:Investigation of mechanisms leading to seasonal hypoxia in the Southern Benguela Upwelling System
Federal Award ID Number:1924270
DUNS ID:614209054
Parent DUNS ID:004534830
Program:Chemical Oceanography
Program Officer:
  • Simone Metz
  • (703) 292-4964
  • smetz@nsf.gov

Awardee Location

Street:438 Whitney Road Ext.
City:Storrs
State:CT
ZIP:06269-1133
County:Storrs Mansfield
Country:US
Awardee Cong. District:02

Primary Place of Performance

Organization Name:University of Connecticut
Street:1080 Shennecossett Road
City:Groton
State:CT
ZIP:06340-6048
County:Groton
Country:US
Cong. District:02

Abstract at Time of Award

The Southern Benguela Upwelling System (SBUS) in the eastern Atlantic Ocean ranks among the most fertile region in the world ocean, host to economically important fishing grounds. Unfortunately, waters of the SBUS are subject to events wherein dissolved oxygen is severely depleted, a condition also known as seasonal hypoxia, which have been observed to cause substantial fish kills. To gain a better understanding of the processes triggering severe hypoxic events, the study will combine field observations (analyzing water samples for dissolved nitrate, nitrite, ammonium, soluble reactive phosphorus, and silicic acid, as well as nitrate isotopic ratios to identify the origin and fate of nutrients in upwelling systems) and modeling. This combined approach is a powerful means of identifying the processes that contribute to the development of hypoxia in the SBUS and the mechanisms gleaned from the proposed study are likely to extend beyond the SBUS to other upwelling regions, such as the Northern Benguela, California and Peru Upwelling Systems. For outreach activities, graduate students would create a short film on their research in South Africa. This film, made available on the University of Connecticut and the University of Cape Town websites and YouTube, would serve as a means of communicating the science to broader audiences. Two graduate students would be supported and trained as part of this project. These students would have the opportunity to work with the South African collaborators at the University of Cape Town, Drs. Sarah Fawcett and Jennifer Veitch, involved in the study. The Southern Benguela Upwelling System (SBUS), off the coasts of South Africa and Namibia, is subject to severe seasonal hypoxia which has been observed to have catastrophic impacts on wildlife, fisheries, and national economies. Researcher from the University of Connecticut posit that the propensity for hypoxic events in this region is linked to the extent of nutrient trapping on the shelf inshore of the hydrographic fronts. This, in turn, influences the intensity of subsequent blooms, and the consequent oxygen demand when this organic material is ultimately decomposed at the shelf bottom. To confirm the role of nutrient cycling in modulating hypoxic event, the scientists will utilize a combination of observations and quantitative simulations. Analyses of dissolved nutrients and nitrate isotope ratios from water samples collected on quarterly monitoring cruises in the SBUS will be used to assess the role of nutrient cycling in modulating hypoxic events. Concurrently, an idealized circulation model of the SBUS will be initiated to test the hypotheses surrounding inshore nutrient trapping and incident hypoxia. Specifically, the focus will be on the potential roles of wind intensity and periodicity, shelf frontal structure, and the alongshore pressure gradient in modulating the burden of recycled nutrients trapped on the shelf and its association with hypoxia. Finally, the ocean circulation and biogeochemistry of the SBUS will be modeled using a realistic hind-cast model forced with realistic atmospheric, tidal, and ocean boundary conditions to make hind-cast simulations of the 3-D circulation and hydrography throughout the domain. This coupled physical-biogeochemical model would be queried to fully investigate the proposed nutrient trapping mechanism and define its role in modulating the intensity of hypoxia inter-annually and from which a prognostic model can be developed. This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.

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