BU prof: estuary mud tells dire eco-story
For ecologist and biogeochemist Robinson “Wally” Fulweiler, every pungent vial of coastal muck tells a story. Meticulously pieced together in a laboratory that mimics nature, that story is alarming. As she explains, the life-sustaining chemical balance of the planet’s coastal ecosystems is changing dramatically, a result of ever-climbing levels of nitrogen and phosphorous from soil erosion, mining, urban waste, and synthetic fertilizers. In the coastal estuaries and marshes of the Massachusetts shore, Fulweiler, a College of Arts & Sciences assistant professor of earth and environment and of biology, is charting the impact of this destruction, hoping that her findings will raise an alarm about the need to protect these marine resources from further harm.
From the tidal flats of Plum Island to the National Estuarine Research Reserve at Waquoit Bay in Falmouth, she is, in every sense, knee-deep in experiments probing changes in a range of marine nutrients along the Bay State coast. But her lab’s general mission, its “connecting theme,” as she puts it, is the ways that humans have altered coastal systems. From industrial pollution to sewage contamination to straining of resources, the list is long, and much of the damage irreversible, says Fulweiler, whose research focuses on global as well as local impacts of environmental change.
Funded by the National Science Foundation and Sea Grant, a program underwritten by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Fulweiler’s work led her and several colleagues to create “The Eutrophication Commandments,” an environmental manifesto published this year in Marine Pollution Bulletin. Commandment number one: “Thou shall protect coastal ecosystems to deliver biodiversity and ecological services.” Click for full article and video on BU Today…
Professor Bruce Anderson appointed to serve on the Scientific Steering Committee for the US Climate Variability and Predictability (CLIVAR) Program.
In addition, Prof. Anderson has been appointed as co-chair of the U.S. CLIVAR Predictability, Prediction and Applications Interface Panel. US CLIVAR is responsible for facilitating the development of important climate research efforts in the US. Over the next two years, the Program is embarking on an effort to develop a new US CLIVAR Science Plan to set goals and objectives guiding the U.S. climate research directions for the coming 15 years. In addition, it fosters improved practices in the dissemination and use of climate information and forecasts within the US and international communities. CLIVAR itself is an international, interdisciplinary research effort within the World Climate Research Programme (WCRP) designed to facilitate analysis and prediction of Earth system variability and change for use in an increasing range of practical applications of direct relevance, benefit and value to society.
A new way of studying and visualizing Earth science data from a NASA and U.S. Geological Survey satellite program is resulting in, for the first time, the ability to tease out the small events that can cause big changes in an ecosystem.
Called LandTrendr, this computer program is able to find patterns previously buried within vast amounts of scientific data. Still in development, it’s already led to seeing for the first time in satellite imagery an obscured, slow-moving decline and recovery of trees in Pacific Northwest forests.
Comparing satellite data to ground data, scientists uncovered the cause. “It was, as it turns out, bugs,” says Robert Kennedy, a remote sensing specialist at Boston University, who consulted with U.S. Forest Service experts to confirm his observations. Click for entire article…