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Awards

Communications Awards Recognize Ocean Chemistry Topics

Leading scientists share research, tools, and findings with critical audiences



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[Reprinted from NEWSWAVE, NEWS FROM THE U.S. DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR: OCEANS, COASTS AND GREAT LAKES, Winter 2014.]

 

Understanding Mercury Sources and Cycling

The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) awarded the Shoemaker Award for Lifetime Achievement in Communications to research geochemist David Krabbenhoft of the USGS Wisconsin Water Science Center for his monumental contributions in effectively communicating the science of mercury and continuing diverse work with ongoing, multiagency research on aquatic mercury.

A conceptual model for mercury sources and cycling in the Pacific Ocean
Above: A conceptual model for mercury sources and cycling in the Pacific Ocean. Learn more about mercury cycling in coastal and marine systems at the USGS Wisconsin Water Science Center’s Coastal and Marine Research webpage. Image credit: USGS. [no larger image available]

Krabbenhoft has educated an international audience on the deleterious effects of mercury in the environment and was instrumental in crafting a binding international treaty for the United Nations (UN) on reducing man-made mercury emissions. This treaty was signed by 140 nations.

Together with Congress, the media, State and local officials, other Federal agencies, members of the public, and international agencies such as the UN, Krabbenhoft’s efforts have increased awareness of the dangers of mercury, as well as improved the research in understanding the sources and fates of mercury contamination. In the past 23 years, Dave has authored or coauthored more than 100 papers on mercury in the environment, and in 2006, served as co-chair for the 8th International Conference on Mercury as a Global Pollutant. He helped establish the USGS’s Mercury Research Laboratory in 1994.

[See a Sound Waves story about some of Krabbenhoft’s research, “Landmark Study Demonstrates How Methylmercury, Known to Contaminate Seafood, Forms in the Ocean”.]

Carbon Chemistry App “CO2calc”

The USGS also recognized CO2calc, a new mobile app, with a USGS Shoemaker communications award. USGS scientist Lisa Robbins and her team developed the app to be used by students, scientists, or the citizen scientist to calculate CO2 parameters in water from a mobile device, streamlining field operations by eliminating the need for bulky computing equipment that was needed in the past. [See related Sound Waves article, "CO2calc Will Assist Studies of Ocean Chemistry."]

Screen shot of the CO2calc mobile app
Above: The mobile app is available in iTunes, and a larger version for use on lap-tops and desktops is available on the USGS website. [no larger image available]

The tool is just part of the work being done by scientists at the USGS in St. Petersburg, Florida, as they collaborate with the University of South Florida (USF) researching the issue of ocean acidification in the Arctic Ocean [see http://coastal.er.usgs.gov/ocean-acidification/].

Ocean acidification is a significant threat to marine life due to the lowering of pH in ocean water due to the uptake of excess carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere. As oceanic pH lowers, marine biota, particularly corals and shellfish, have a harder time making their shells. Thinner, more brittle shells could lead to increased predation and lower numbers of individuals.

Since 2010, USGS scientist Lisa Robbins and USF colleague Jonathan Wynn have collected over 30,000 water samples during three research cruises in the Arctic Ocean to study ocean acidification in the Canada Basin and the role that sea ice may play in ocean chemistry [for example, see "Arctic Expedition—Joint U.S.-Canada Survey for Purpose of Delineating Extended Continental Shelf"]. Although excess CO2 is likely the major contributor to ocean acidification in the Arctic Ocean, fresh water from melting ice lowers the buffering capacity of seawater, making the two contributors a one-two punch in lowering the pH of the Arctic Ocean. The USGS ocean acidification research team has also focused on educational outreach with a twitter feed @USGSArctic, cruise journals, and resources for teachers located on the USGS Ocean Acidification webpages.


Related Sound Waves Stories
Landmark Study Demonstrates How Methylmercury, Known to Contaminate Seafood, Forms in the Ocean
August 2009
CO2calc Will Assist Studies of Ocean Chemistry
March 2011
Arctic Expedition—Joint U.S.-Canada Survey for Purpose of Delineating Extended Continental Shelf
Jan. / Feb. 2012
Unprecedented Rate and Scale of Ocean Acidification Found in the Arctic
Nov. / Dec. 2013

Related Websites
NEWSWAVE, NEWS FROM THE U.S. DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR: OCEANS, COASTS AND GREAT LAKES
DOI
Ocean Acidification
USGS
Ocean Acidification—Polar Regions: The Arctic
USGS

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in this issue:

Fieldwork
cover story:
Assessing Climate Change Vulnerability of Pacific Atolls

Spotlight on Sandy
Fire Island Oceanographic Study Update

Linking Coastal Processes and Vulnerability in Assateague Island Region

Recent Hires Assist USGS Barrier Island and Estuarine Studies

Research
EDEN and EVE—Getting the Water Right in Paradise

"Marathon" Bird May Plan Flights Based on Weather Across the Pacific

Warmer Conditions Create New Goose Habitat in Arctic Alaska

25 Years After the Exxon Valdez, Sea Otter Populations at Pre-Spill Levels

Outreach
USGS Intern Teaches Kids about Ocean Acidification

USGS Scientists Support the National Ocean Science Bowl’s Spoonbill Bowl

Awards
Communications Awards Recognize Ocean Chemistry Topics

Staff
Three USGS Volunteers in Florida Working on Ocean Acidification

USGS Employee in Florida Recognized for Service on Science Museum Board

Publications New Kid on the Web: USGS CMGP Redesigned Website Goes Live

March / April Publications

Accessibility FOIA Privacy Policies and Notices

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