CEE Graduate Seminars 2012
Friday, February 17, 2012, 2 PM
120 Olsson Hall
Global Carbon Issues: Studying Natural to Anthropogenic Cycles
Richard B. Coffin
Key earth carbon cycles are scaled from ocean and atmospheric down to localized point sources. There is realization that methane is a significant contribution to climate change and a need to understand the atmospheric input from coastal oceans and Arctic tundra relative to anthropogenic carbon dioxide releases. This topic is paramount to prediction of future of ecosystem cycles and the impact on human populations, economy, and agriculture. On a substantially smaller scale there is also a need to understand localized anthropogenic impact on ecosystems. With the growing earth human population, coastal waters, estuaries, and the open ocean are impacted by point and nonpoint sourced anthropogenic carbon that causes immediate and long term environmental damage. At the Naval Research Laboratory the Marine Biogeochemistry Section has developed and applied carbon isotope analysis to provide understanding of carbon sources and cycling in different ecosystems. General carbon pool isotope analysis is used for an evaluation cycling through sediment, ocean, and into the atmosphere. With more recent developments individual molecules can be traced through anthropogenic and natural biogeochemical carbon cycles. This presentation will provide examples of carbon isotope analyses applied to understanding biogeochemical cycles. Stable carbon is used in the analysis of: 1) water column and sediment methane source(s) and cycling; 2) contaminant source identification; and 3) general cycling through organic and inorganic carbon pools. Radiocarbon is used for confirmation of natural attenuation of organic contaminants and studies of shallow sediment and water column methane cycling.
Biography: Richard Coffin is Marine Biogeochemistry Section Head at the Naval Research Laboratory in Washington DC. His educational background includes a Ph.D. in chemical oceanography from University of Delaware and an NSF supported postdoctoral appointment at Gordon College. Research applies isotope analyses to study biogeochemical cycling of natural and anthropogenic carbon pools in estuary, coastal ocean and open ocean water column and sediment. Previous research has focused on identification of organic contaminant sources and measurement of microbial natural attenuation in civilian and military harbors. Current activity focuses on methane hydrate research as the NRL leader for international program development. Field work applies geophysics and geochemical methods to studying the flux of deep sediment methane deposits to shallow sediment and water column carbon cycling. Expeditions as a chief and co-chief scientist, has been conducted along the mid Chilean Margin, Hikurangi Margin off New Zealand, Cascadia Margin, off the mid-Norwegian coast, on the Texas-Louisiana Shelf in the Gulf of Mexico, and most recently, in the Alaskan Beaufort Sea. Current plans are being set for the Kara Sea during the summer of 2012 and off the South Island of New Zealand for 2012 and 2013. This research addresses climate change, alternate energy exploration, deep ocean sediment carbon sequestration and coastal ocean carbon modeling.
The Civil Engineering seminar series is open to the University community.
Civil Engineering undergraduate students are especially invited to attend.