URI Graduate School of Oceanography to make a splash at biennial Ocean Sciences meeting, Feb. 24-28

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NARRAGANSETT, R.I. – February 14, 2014 – More than 45 scientists and students from the University of Rhode Island’s Graduate School of Oceanography will deliver presentations about their research on oceanography and other topics at the biennial Ocean Sciences meeting in Honolulu on Feb. 24-28.

The event, sponsored by The Oceanography Society, the American Geophysical Union and the Association for the Sciences of Limnology and Oceanography, is an important venue for the exchange of scientific information in the marine sciences.

“This is a key meeting for most of our faculty, marine scientists and students for sharing the results of their research, networking with fellow oceanographers, and learning about emerging topics in ocean science,” said Bruce Corliss, dean of the Graduate School of Oceanography. “It will also be a great opportunity to reconnect with many of our alumni who will be in attendance.”

The presentations being made by GSO scientists illustrate the wide variety of subjects being studied and the tremendous geographic range of their work. For example, 13 presentations involve research in the world’s polar regions, including studies of ocean circulation around Antarctica, population genetics of plankton in the Arctic, the transfer of gases through polar sea ice, and the effect of climate change on Bering Sea fisheries.

In addition to the polar regions, the Ocean Sciences meeting will feature GSO research in Narragansett Bay, the Gulf of Mexico, the South China Sea, the North Atlantic, the South Pacific and other water bodies large and small.

One subject that will receive considerable attention at the meeting is plankton, with GSO scientists delivering 15 presentations on their plankton-related studies.

“Plankton are the base of marine food webs, the fuel of marine ecosystems,” said Associate Professor Tatiana Rynearson. “Changes in plankton productivity in response to environmental changes like climate change and coastal development can affect the remainder of the marine food web. And they are critical components of global nutrient cycles. For example, plankton generate every other breath of oxygen that we breathe.”

Among the plankton research being presented by GSO scientists are studies of zooplankton reproduction in the Bering Sea, phytoplankton growth rates in the North Atlantic, the effects of increased carbon dioxide on plankton growth, genetic variation in a large diatom bloom, global population structure and dispersal of a marine diatom, and the effects of temperature on feeding rates among protists in Narragansett Bay.

Other subjects being discussed by GSO scientists at the meeting include ocean acidification, the effect of ocean waves on hurricane intensity, the dynamics of ocean eddies in the North Atlantic, the effect of climate change on the fish species found in Narragansett Bay, underwater waves in the South China Sea, and strategies for increasing ocean literacy.

“Attending the Ocean Sciences meeting is an important part of the education of graduate students headed into research careers,” said Associate Professor Susanne Menden-Deuer, who is bringing several students and post-doctoral researchers with her to the meeting. “It provides an opportunity to present their own research results to a broad audience, connect with other researchers and possible future collaborators, mentors and employers. These meetings are important milestones for students and post-docs.”

According to Dean Corliss, weekly seminars at the URI Bay Campus are presented by GSO students throughout the school year to provide them with opportunities to hone their presentation skills, which prepare them well for their first presentations at scientific conferences.

“I’m particularly proud of the interdisciplinary approach our scientists and students take in their research here at the Graduate School of Oceanography, as well as their collaborative nature. That’s how we’re going to solve the problems facing the oceans today,” said Corliss.