From the Director
Sun to Mud
Harlan Spence
Harlan Spence

THE VERY FIRST THING you'll read on our institute website is "From Deep Space to the Ocean Floor." That covers a lot of ground, if you will, and the broad, multidisciplinary, scientific investigation that defines EOS is evident in this issue of Spheres. Collectively we are conducting an array of societally relevant research that both peers back in time and looks forward for answers that can be applied to some of today’s problems and puzzles. These projects are being done under the auspices of a host of federal agencies and, of course, highlight only a small sampling of the research efforts in our four centers.

A new wrinkle to the remote sensing work routinely done in each center is that of research assistant professor Michael Palace of the Complex Systems Research Center. Palace, who is expert in using satellite-borne imagery to study various aspects of tropical forests, will combine state-of-the-art NASA technology to look back 500 years and locate sites in the Amazon formerly inhabited by pre-Columbian indigenous peoples. Population estimates vary widely, and knowing with more accuracy how many people might have impacted the rainforest through agriculture and development prior to European contact will, in addition to answering some important historical questions, help scientists understand how the Amazon Basin might withstand current pressures from deforestation, selective logging, and development.

On the decidedly low-tech end of the research spectrum, scientists and historians from the Ocean Process Analysis Laboratory recently completed a report for NOAA’s National Marine Sanctuary Program that comprehensively analyzed documents from late 19th- and early 20th- century fisheries. A first of its kind, the study puts the current ecological state of the Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary into meaningful historical context, and its findings and recommendations can now be applied broadly to other marine sanctuaries.

Now looking upward and forward, we are participating in a NASA mission that will make the most comprehensive investigation of Earth’s radiation belts in half a century. This region, where energetic particles are at times accelerated to nearly the speed of light, can pose a dangerous radiation environment to the hundreds of satellites that orbit in the vicinity and provide innumerable, essential services to modern-day life on Earth. Understanding this environment to the point of predictability will help us protect both machine and man from intense radiation events in addition to giving us insight into a fundamental physical process that occurs throughout the universe.

Closer to home, we are part of an ambitious new effort to take the ecological pulse of our nation for the first time with a continental network of dedicated observatories. During this time of unprecedented environmental change, the network will provide scientists with greater capacity to understand and predict these changes. Lastly, Ph.D. student Claire Treat, who was recently awarded a prestigious Department of Energy fellowship, will dig into a potentially explosive climate shift up in Arctic climes when she begins her three-year research into “the great northern carbon bomb” – the prodigious amount of organic carbon that could be unlocked from melting permafrost.

Even as we anticipate bright futures through the lens of UNH 2020, it is gratifying for me to be part of such eclectic and meaningful EOS research here in 2010. We should all feel invigorated by our institute’s collective strengths, from Sun to mud.
– Harlan Spence


Welcome to
Spheres Online

the University of New Hampshire Institute for the Study of Earth, Oceans, and Space electronic newsletter.

Subscribe to Spheres Online

Spheres Archives




Summer 2010
In this Issue of Spheres

Time Traveling via Satellite

Rewriting the Book on the Radiation Belts

A Look Back Towards the Future

A Bright Light for Ecological Research

Bomb Detection

News and Notes
Faculty, Staff, and Student News
From the Director



Institute for the Study of Earth, Oceans, and Space (EOS),
Morse Hall, 8 College Road,
Durham, NH 03824

Director: Harlan Spence
Assoc. Dir.: David S. Bartlett
Editor: David Sims
Designer: Kristi Donahue
Circulation: Laurie Pinciak



Summer 2010

News and Notes
Faculty, Staff, and Student News

CHANGSHENG LI of the Complex Systems Research Center has been appointed director of the newly formed Shanghai Jiao Tong University Low-carbon Agricultural Research Center. An internationally renowned specialist in biogeochemistry, Li developed the Denitrification-Decomposition (DNDC) model that is used worldwide for the studies of carbon sequestration, trace gas emissions, fertilizer efficiency,

 
changsheng li
Changsheng Li, right
crop production, and nitrogen contamination in water. His appointment, the university announced, will help move the research center “toward an international advanced platform for low-carbon agricultural theoretical research and technology development.”

THE RESEARCH COMPUTING CENTER, in partnership with UNH’s Coastal Response Research Center and NOAA, developed a web-based tool, known as the Environmental Response Management Application (ERMA®), that is being recognized as the one-stop shop for detailed near-real-time information about the response to the Deepwater Horizon BP oil spill. “This has been an incredible project for us to work on,” says Patrick Messer, director of UNH’s Research Computing Center based at EOS. “They came to us with a problem and we all worked together on how to solve it. It allowed my staff, primarily Philip Collins and Robert St. Lawrence, to actively participate in the design of the software, which was very rewarding. We may not be down on the coast, but it feels good to know we’re helping to make a difference.”

RACHEL FEENEY, communication and information coordinator for the Northeast Consortium, published a paper in Marine and Coastal Fisheries: Dynamics, Management, and Ecosystem Science entitled “Assessing Stakeholder Perspectives on the Impacts of a Decade of Collaborative Fisheries Research in the Gulf of Maine and Georges Bank.” The paper is a social science assessment of the impacts of collaborative fisheries research funding programs in New England, the Northeast Consortium included.

OPAL research scientist Chris Hunt published a paper in Estuaries and Coasts entitled “Contrasting Carbon Dioxide Inputs and Exchange in Three Adjacent New England Estuaries.” Joe Salisbury and Doug Vandemark are co-authors.

ALEX PRUSEVICH reports that the eruption of the Eyjafjallajökull volcano in Iceland was closely watched
Ice Core
Lightning and motion-blurred ash appear in this 15-second exposure taken 25 kilometers from the Eyjafjallajökull volcano on
April 18th, 2010.
Photo used with permission. © Olivier Vandeginste.
by the Volcanology Research Group at CSRC, which has an ongoing NSF-funded project to study volcanic ash. The project is titled "Ash Particles and the Bubbles that Make Them: Measuring Bubble Size from Ash Fragments for New Insights Regarding Eruption Dynamics." The project probes why some volcanoes erupt with so much ash, as has Eyjafjallajökull, while many others erupt with mostly lava flows.



PH.D. CANDIDATE Dara Feddersen of the Climate Change Research Center has received a NASA Graduate Student Researchers Program (GSRP) three-year fellowship. The fellowship also includes a 10-week-per-year in-residence research opportunity at NASA Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia. Fedderson is conducting research on atmospheric mercury with CCRC director Bob Talbot and Howard Mayne from the Department of Chemistry.

PH.D. STUDENT Matthew Vadeboncoeur of CSRC will attend a conference being hosted by the Smithsonian Institution's Center for Tropical Forest Science in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. The conference will bring together scientists and information managers to analyze data from a series of large forest dynamics plots across Asia. Vandeboncoeur’s research focuses primarily on biogeochemical cycles in temperate forests. His advisor is Erik Hobbie.

  Ice Core
Chelsea Corr
Beginning early in June, Ph.D. student Chelsea Corr spent three weeks at Summit Station in Greenland relieving her EOS advisor Jack Dibb in making measurements of nitric and nitrous acids as part of collaborative snow photochemistry research with Brown University and Georgia Tech scientists. Says Corr, “We're also interested in measuring the halogen bromine as we hypothesize that it may be a large player in the mismatch between modeled processes in the snow and processes that are measured.” Corr, who participated in UNH’s Transforming Earth System Science Education (TESSE) program, blogged from Summit with 6th graders in Wycoff, New Jersey with whom she has been working this past year.

Physics undergraduate and EOS student researcher Joshua Stawarz was awarded a Goldwater Scholarship. Nationwide, fewer than 300 students in all areas of science and engineering are awarded the prestigious scholarship. Stawarz, who will be a senior this coming fall, is the author of six scientific papers. His latest paper titled "The Turbulent Cascade for High Cross-Helicity States at 1 AU" by Stawarz, Smith, Vasquez, Forman, and MacBride was published in The Astrophysical Journal in April 2010.

by David Sims, Science Writer, Institute for the Study of Earth, Oceans, and Space.