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2022 Potential Projects

NOTE: Projects for Summer 2023 will be posted by mid-December.
Below is a list of potential projects and advisors in the WHOI departments and the USGS Coastal and Marine Science Center for Summer 2022. This list is not comprehensive; other Scientific and Senior Technical Staff are eligible to advise Summer Student Fellows. See also: WHOI Areas of Research and Departments, Centers and Labs.

Applied Ocean Physics and Engineering Dept.

Ocean Acoustics and Signal Processing

Julien Bonnel
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My research focuses on the development and use of acoustical techniques and data analysis methods to study the ocean. My activity is interdisciplinary and collaborative, and my lab is open to interns, students and post-docs with various interests, covering signal processing, acoustics, oceanography and marine biology. My personal playground is in between signal processing and ocean acoustics. However, I do enjoy working with students and post-doc that have diverse backgrounds. Current projects in the lab includes crustacean bioacoustics, marine mammal localization in the Arctic, polar soundscape analysis, estimation of seabed geoacoustic parameters, and fundamental signal processing adapted to dispersive propagation. Potential projects on other topics are usually welcome, particularly if they are at the intersection of acoustical oceanography and signal processing.

Julien Bonnel's profile
Oceanus article: Warping Sound in the Ocean

AI and ML guided behaviors for underwater robots

Yogesh Girdhar

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WARPLab does research related to developing novel AI and ML guided behaviors for underwater robots. Current ongoing projects in the lab relate to enabling robust operations of robots in coral-reef like environments that are geometrically and visually complex. We are developing capabilities to enable robots to automatically visually characterize habitat types, avoid obstacles, and follow marine animals. Students with a background in EE, CS, or MechE, and interest in robotics are encouraged to apply.

WARPLab

Oceanus article: A curious robot is poised to rapidly expand coral reef research

Applied Aquaculture

Scott Lindell

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The Applied Aquaculture Research Program (Lindell Lab) is directed at researching and developing marine aquaculture for sustainably providing food and fuel. We strive to develop methods

that have positive economic and ecosystem services and minimal negative social and environmental impacts. This demands a multi-disciplinary approach encompassing various subsets of biology (e.g. genetics, physiology, ecology), and oceanographic engineering (e.g. sensing, structural, systems). Marine aquaculture faces considerable engineering challenges, particularly in the open ocean where there are opportunities for making significant economic contributions. Marine farms need design and management to reach commercial scales that lower risk, attract investment and enhance revenue. Our program currently works with farmers (see GreenWave) and engineers (see www.whoi.edu/news-release/seaweed-fuel) to research and test novel systems that support multiple commercial-scale growing structures or longlines for shellfish and seaweed.

We will have completed multiple yearly cycles of breeding and genetic selection applied to aquaculture species, sugar kelp (Saccharina latissima) by summer 2022. The goal of the project is to develop new strains of kelp that are better as food or animal feed sources, and that ultimately fit the production cost profile of feedstocks for biofuels. We will have a trove of data on the genotypes and phenotypes of hundreds of families of sugar kelp, as well as environmental data from each farm. A large portion of this data has yet to be analyzed. A remote learning project will be developed using the database and existing industry resources, with hopes of identifying and answering overlooked but important questions. Translating results into graphical resources that can help educate industry stakeholders and the public could be important outcomes. There will be opportunities for research and mentorship in the both field (farms) and in the lab if the fellowship can be conducted on-site.

Scott Lindell's profile

Sea Ice Physics and Ice-Ocean-Climate Interactions

Ted Maksym

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Deploying an autonomous underwater vehicle under the sea ice to map its thickness

The Maksym lab works on sea ice physics and ice-ocean-climate interactions at both poles. The lab's broad goals are to understand fundamental ice-ocean interactions that drive seasonal ice growth and decay to better understand drivers of sea ice variability and long-term change.

The annual advance and retreat of Arctic and Antarctic sea ice is among the greatest seasonal events on earth. It is also one of Earth’s most rapidly changing environments. Our research focuses on fundamental sea ice physics and ice-ocean-climate interactions at both poles to better understand the drivers of sea ice variability and long-term change. This is accomplished through a combination of in situ observations (particularly using autonomous platforms and robotic vehicles), satellite data analysis, and modeling.

Potential projects in my lab fall into three main areas. We have several projects that use data from ICESat-2, a satellite altimeter which can detect sea ice elevation with a precision of 2 cm. We are using these data for a range of projects including monitoring the evolution of snow depth on sea ice in the Antarctic, the connection between ice thickness and spring phytoplankton blooms in the coastal Arctic, and quantifying ice growth and melt in coastal Antarctica. For those with a preference for working with in situ observations, another project could include analysis of ice growth and melt data from drifting buoy platforms from the Arctic or Antarctic. Or, a prospective student could be involved in laboratory experiments to understand the mechanisms controlling the growth and development of snow-covered sea ice.

Students should have some familiarity with programming environments such as Matlab or Python. An interest in working with satellite imagery, or experience with laboratory of field instrumentation would be an asset. The student can expect to learn how to analyze different types of satellite data and imagery, work with large climate date sets, and gain experience working with instrumentation and electronics.

Most projects are flexible and can be performed remotely, if needed. If in person is possible, the student will have the opportunity to be more involved in experimental work and instrumentation.

Ted Maksym's profile

Development of In situ Chemical Sensors

Anna Michel

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Our interdisciplinary (engineering and chemistry) research focus is on advancing environmental observation through the development and deployment of novel sensors for measurement of key chemical species. In my lab, we design, build, and deploy advanced laser-based chemical sensors for environments ranging from the deep sea to Arctic environments. We are especially interested in bringing new technologies to the field for measurement of the greenhouse gases methane and carbon dioxide. An additional focus of our lab is on bringing adaptive sampling to ocean and earth science. More recently, we have been developing approaches for detecting microplastics in the ocean.

Projects can include developing and testing small gas sensors, investigating microplastics in ocean environments, advancing small platforms (including underwater remotely operated vehicles, surface vehicles, or drones) for making environmental measurements, and using machine learning approaches for data analysis.  Our group includes members with interests in environmental chemistry, engineering, computer science, and physics, but we welcome anyone with interests related to our research. Students can expect an interdisciplinary research experience.

Anna Michel's website

Autonomous Surface Vessel Development

Peter Traykovski

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WHOI Engineers and scientists have recently developed the Jetyak Autonomous Surface Vessel (ASV), which has enabled interesting measurements in environments ranging from the Arctic to Coastal Estuaries.  See http://www.whoi.edu/oceanus/feature/the-jetyak. However for many applications a smaller ASV that could be launched and recovered by one person would be more suitable.  In very rough conditions (e.g. the surf zone)  the gas engine of the jetyak is problematic. Summer Student Fellow Projects that continue in the development of a smaller electric motor and battery powered ASV are possible that cover topics ranging from mechanical design to adaptive robotic control in the surfzone. Sensor integration such as bathymetric sonars or camera systems could also be part of a project  These projects would involve significant amounts of hands on engineering and field testing.

Peter Traykovski's profile
Projects website

Ice-Ocean Interactions

Catherine Walker

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Research on ice-ocean interactions is quite broad. The main focus of research, both on Earth (Antarctica! Greenland! Alaska!) and in space (Jupiter’s moon Europa! Saturn’s moon Enceladus!), will be to understand how ice-ocean systems change over time. Example projects in this topic could focus on either remote sensing or modeling. Using remote sensing techniques that involve laser altimetry and satellite imagery, we can focus on how ice is changing on Earth due to interactions with the ocean, particularly in how it will change with the climate.

One sample project focus would be to focus on coastal glaciers in Antarctica and how they interact with changes in the surrounding ocean waters. We can also monitor iceberg breakup and sea ice changes and its effects on ice shelf stability. Understanding how coastal topography changes with shifts in ocean properties is also of interest. Another research focus is the development of instrumentation to observe these systems. Alternatively, modeling studies of ice fracture and subsurface water in planetary bodies (“Ocean Worlds”) are of interest as well, to determine how and when these bodies were active. Specifically, we can help to determine where the best place to land a spacecraft might be! A specific project might be using remote observations and modeling to determine how the soon-to-launch Ganymede Laser Altimeter will perform over bumpy ice surfaces. Desired skills include Matlab or Python or other coding experience, and interest in learning about ice dynamics, planetary science, and/or climate change.

Projects are fully flexible in terms of being completed in person or remotely. At this time, none require hands-on lab work, though that can be discussed as a possibility if in-person stays are possible this summer.

Catherine Walker's profile

NASA Highlight webpage

Biology Dept.

Marine Predators

Camrin Braun

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Capt. Willy Hatch and scientist Camrin Braun deploying electronic satellite tags on an adult blue shark offshore from Cape Cod. (T. Sinclair-Taylor)

In the Marine Predator Group, we use computational, lab and field-based approaches to study how predators interact with their environment and what that can tell us about how the ocean works. In our completely unbiased opinions, we have the best jobs in the world! We get to spend our time asking questions like: How does temperature affect when and where sharks migrate? How does the highly dynamic nature of ocean physics, with all its interacting currents, drive the formation of biological ocean “hotspots”? Why do many predators dive below the ocean’s surface to the seemingly inhospitable ocean twilight zone where its dark and cold?

To answer these questions we leverage a highly interdisciplinary ocean ecology toolkit that includes, for example, using and developing electronic tags, analyzing remote sensing data from satellites, and exploring data from all kinds of in situ ocean sensors carried by ships, robots, moorings and even the predators themselves!

Potential projects for Summer Student Fellows might include: [1] designing your own analysis of predator tag data from our existing database of nearly 2,000 tagged animals (e.g. explore deep diving behavior by tagged mako sharks, migratory cues of tagged albacore tuna, etc); [2] building species distribution models and investigating dynamic ocean management approaches for managing highly migratory predator species (e.g. how does a fishery closure protect important shark habitat); [3] conducting lab experiments to test new approaches for less invasive animal tagging methods (e.g. do state of the art suction cups provide the necessary strength and duration of attachment for tagging sharks, tunas and billfish species). It is helpful to have skills coding in R or Python, but these are not required and some fluency with one coding language will be gained over the course of the summer regardless. If the summer 2022 program can be offered in-person, Fellows can expect to also gain experience in the field tagging predators and collecting any number of ocean measurements.

Marine Predators Group website

Seafloor Communities in the Arctic Ocean

Kirstin Meyer-Kaiser
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Anthropogenic climate change is driving dramatic changes in the Arctic Ocean that are proceeding more rapidly than in other ocean regions. Water temperatures are rising both at the surface and in the deep sea, and sea ice is receding. These changes have cascading impacts on seafloor communities through changes in the quantity and seasonal patterns of the food supply. The Meyer-Kaiser lab has a long-standing collaboration with the Deep-Sea Ecology Group at the Alfred Wegener Institute (Bremerhaven, Germany) to study climate change impacts on Arctic deep-sea environments. The Summer Student Fellow will join this collaborative group and be introduced to the Long-Term Ecological Research observatory HAUSGARTEN, located at 78 N in the Fram Strait. Using image analysis, the SSF will track changes in seafloor communities at the shallowest HAUSGARTEN station (HG-I, 1300 m) and investigate potential drivers of change, such as water temperature and phytodetrital flux. The student will gain experience in invertebrate zoology, image analysis, statistical analysis, polar biology, and interdisciplinary and international collaboration. We look forward to including an SSF in this critical research!

Meyer-Kaiser lab website

More about the HAUSGARTEN

Benthic Community Resilience

Lauren Mullineaux
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The Mullineaux Benthic Ecology Lab studies the dispersal of larvae of benthic invertebrates through the ocean, their settlement back to the seafloor, and the influence of these processes on resilience of benthic communities to disturbance - both natural and human. We use field observations, laboratory experiments, and mathematical models to understand how larvae respond to environmental cues and connect geographically separated communities. Our research helps solve problems in aquaculture, fisheries management, and impacts of deep-sea mining.

This year's summer students will have an opportunity to investigate larval behavior in turbulent flow (live animal experiments and image analysis), recolonization of disturbed deep-sea vents (invertebrate ID and data analysis), or newly discovered mineral/animal interactions on deep sulfide mounds (community composition; image and data analysis). Our lab group thrives on diversity and is committed to the highest standards of professionalism, including research integrity, collaboration, and respect for colleagues at all levels.

Mullineaux Lab

Mathematical Ecology

Michael Neubert
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In my laboratory, we formulate and analyze mathematical models to address scientific questions that arise in the study of marine populations or communities. Many (but not all) of these questions have to do with how best to conserve or manage populations in the face of some form of stress (e.g., invasive pests, habitat disturbance, harvesting, or climate change). The project a summer student might work on in my lab will depend upon a combination of the student’s mathematical and computational training and biological interests. Examples include developing models to study (1) the efficacy of various forms of fisheries management in the face of environmental uncertainty, (2) how best to manage the spread of an invasive species, (3) phytoplankton population dynamics, (4) the population dynamic consequences of transgenerational or maternal effects, or (5) zombies.

Michael Neubert's profile page

Northeast U.S. Shelf Long-Term Ecological Research (NES-LTER)

Zooplankton and Fish Behavior

Mei Sato
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My research is focused on biological-physical interactions, addressing how the environment influences animal behavior and distributions in coastal ecosystems and how those interactions affect trophic dynamics including zooplankton, fish, and marine mammals. In order to address problems across a range of temporal/spatial scales, our lab uses active acoustics in different platforms (vessels, moorings, cabled observatories) combined with net sampling and physical measurements.

We are looking for a student with an interest in understanding how pelagic animals respond to environmental forcing. Potential projects include the analysis of acoustic data collected by existing cabled observatory systems to examine how zooplankton and/or fish change their abundance, distribution, and behavior in response to shelf break front, eddies, upwelling, and hypoxia. It is helpful to have coding skills, but these are not required, and the student will gain skills to visualize complex 3-dimensional acoustic data.

Mei Sato's profile page

Marine Mammal Behavior and Communication

Laela Sayigh
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My research interests focus on behavior and communication in cetaceans (whales and dolphins), and how humans impact these aspects of cetacean societies. Student projects in 2022 will focus on computer-based analyses of acoustic data and will not have a field component, even if on-site work is possible. Research areas will likely focus on analysis of acoustic data from bottlenose dolphins, aimed at studying how communicative signals are used. Students will learn to use the acoustic analysis software program Raven, and may also analyze tag data using Matlab based software, although no prior experience with either of these programs is needed.

Laela Sayigh's profile page

Phytoplankton Ecology

Heidi Sosik
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graphics-Flow_Cytobot-_DSC3746_sm_408473My research is focused on quantitative plankton ecology and in my lab there are a range of possible summer projects for motivated undergraduates. Most on-going projects are related to coastal ecosystems and time series observations of plankton at scales from single cells up to large areas that can be monitored with satellite remote sensing. We have on-going field work as part of the Northeast U.S. Shelf Long-Term Ecological Research (NES-LTER) program and at the Martha's Vineyard Coastal Observatory, which is a facility on the continental shelf near WHOI that is connected to shore by power and fiber optic cables. We have developed some exciting new submersible flow cytometer technologies that rapidly measure microscopic particles (mostly phytoplankton, but also protozoa), including video imaging at the micron scale. These instruments are deployed at MVCO and produce lots of data (e.g., >10000 images per hour for months to years), so projects involving these time series can span from computer science (image analysis, computer vision, and machine learning) to modeling of populations and bloom dynamics. There are also opportunities for projects involving coastal field work, laboratory experiments with plankton cultures, and instrument development.

Heidi Sosik's website

Imaging Flow Cytobot data

Northeast U.S. Shelf Long Term Ecological Research (NES-LTER)

Geology and Geophysics Dept.

Projecting Coral and Reef Calcification in a Changing Ocean

Weifu Guo
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Coral reefs are among the most diverse ecosystems on Earth, with enormous cultural, ecological, and economic values. The calcium carbonate skeletons of stony corals are the main building blocks of the reef structure and provide food, shelter, and substrate for a myriad of other organisms. However, corals today face many global and local environmental stressors, such as warming, ocean acidification, sea level rise, and pollution, impeding their ability to calcify and maintain the reef structure.

We are seeking to develop numerical methods (including machine learning techniques) to (a) assess the impact of past environmental changes (especially ocean acidification) on coral calcification and reef environment (e.g., reef water pH) and to (b) project the future coral and reef responses to 21st century climate change. The project(s) will involve (1) compilation and analysis of global coral growth and reef environment parameters, and/or (2) development of predictive statistical and mechanistic models of coral growth and reef environment.

Interested students are strongly encouraged to contact Dr. Weifu Guo (https://www.whoi.edu/staff/wguo/) to discuss more details about the potential projects.

Weifu Guo's profile

Time-Dependent Model of the Oceanic Benthic Nepheloid Layer

Olivier Marchal
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Measurements from optical instruments lowered throughout the oceanic water column have long revealed the presence of a particle-rich layer overlying the seafloor – the benthic nepheloid layer or BNL – in many parts of the world ocean. The BNL is generally characterized by two sublayers:  (i) a lower sublayer that is in direct contact with the seafloor, shows maximum particle concentrations, has a thickness of the order of 100 m, and often coincides with the bottom mixed layer as identified from uniform potential temperature; and (ii) an upper sublayer that overlies the lower sublayer, has a thickness of the order of 1000 m, and in which particle concentration decreases about exponentially with height above the bottom up to a clear water minimum at mid-depth. Both sublayers are thought to be produced by the resuspension of fine sediments from the seabed followed by their vertical/lateral transport by eddies. For example, intense BNLs have been observed to form in the western North Atlantic during so called “benthic storms”, which are episodes of strong near-bottom currents and are the abyssal analogues of synoptic disturbances in the mid-latitude atmosphere (“weather”). Interest in BNLs was renewed recently by observations indicating that these layers may be sites of enhanced removal of particle-reactive metals from the water column, including protactinium-231 and thorium-230, two naturally-occurring radioisotopes that have found various applications in chemical oceanography and paleoceanography. However, in spite of decades of observations, the significance of BNLs for ocean biogeochemical cycles and the time scales associated with the appearance and disappearance of BNLs are still poorly understood.

The goal of this project is to develop a mathematical model describing the formation, maintenance, and destruction of the oceanic BNL. Emphasis will be placed on two problems: (i) given a sudden and sustained impulse of sediment particles into a particle-void water column, how long does it take for a BNL to develop?; and (ii) given a sudden reduction in sediment supply to the water column, how long does it take for the BNL to clear out? Processes to be considered in this model will include the vertical motion of particles by turbulent dispersion, the gravitational settling of particles, the aggregation of small (slowly settling) particles into large (rapidly setting) particles, and the disaggregation of large particles into small particles. Model results will be compared to observations from the western North Atlantic that have been gathered from optical instruments and in situ large volume filtration. This project is part of a larger project funded by the US National Science Foundation and concerned with the effects of Gulf Stream meanders, rings, and eddies, on the movement of fine sediments at abyssal depths in the western North Atlantic.

The student working on this project will be exposed to concepts emanating from various disciplines, including physical oceanography, chemical oceanography, marine sedimentology, and, more generally, the mathematical modeling of oceanographic phenomena. The most important quality the student working on this project should have is motivation! Although prior exposure to calculus or advanced calculus would be desirable, the student will be introduced gradually to the problems during short lectures and will be asked to complete a small number of exercises in order to best prepare him/her to the main goal of the project.

This project will be supervised by Senior Scientist Olivier Marchal (omarchal@whoi.edu).

Olivier Marchal's profile

The history of O2 in ancient oceans

Sune Nielsen
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The availability of molecular oxygen (O2) is a first-order control on the distribution of life in Earth’s oceans today – and the same was likely true in Earth’s past. Many ongoing projects in our research group are geared toward reconstructing the history of O2 in Earth’s ancient oceans. At what times in Earth’s past did oceanic O2 levels dramatically change? What role, if any, did biology play in driving these O2 fluctuations? What was the biological response?

We use novel heavy metal stable isotope ratios in ancient marine sediments to reconstruct the history of O2 in Earth’s oceans. We then compare our metal isotope results with the known fossil record to examine the interdependence of life and O2 over Earth history. Most of our current projects leverage the thallium (Tl) and vanadium (V) isotope systems, applying them to the ancient shale record. We study the Archean-Proterozoic transition (~2.7 to ~2.0 billion years ago), when production of O2 by cyanobacteria first started to leave behind significant imprints in the geologic record, and the Proterozoic-Phanerozoic transition (~900 to ~300 million years ago), during the rise and evolution of early animals. However, we also have interests in other timeframes of Earth history.

We seek collaborations with motivated students that find the evolution of life and O2 over Earth history particularly interesting. Students are welcome to propose a particular timeframe or event in Earth’s past, but we also have focused studies available for students with no heavy metal isotope experience but a willingness to learn.

Sune Nielsen's homepage

NIRVANA Lab

Paleoceanography/Paleoclimatology

Delia Oppo
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We use a variety of techniques, often in collaboration with other scientists at WHOI and elsewhere, to study past changes in ocean circulation and the earth's climate history. Some of our current projects focus on abrupt climate events of the last glacial cycle, deglacial climate evolution, and Holocene trends and variations (including detailed reconstructions of the last millennia). The aim of the lab-based project available in 2022 will be to reconstruct changes in thermocline depth in the western Pacific Ocean over the last 1000 years, with the aim of integrating the results with published data that reflect widespread changes in tropical dynamics and hydroclimate.

Delia Oppo's homepage

Marine Chemistry and Geochemistry Dept.

Volatile History and Chemical Evolution of Earth

Peter Barry
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Students (Clarah Kimani -middle and Karim Mtili -right) calibrating a quadrupole mass spectrometer with Lab Technician (Darren Hillegonds - left) before bringing the instrument on a field expedition.

The goal of the Barry Lab is to understand the volatile

history and chemical evolution of Earth. Specifically, we use stable and noble gas isotope systematics to understand the dynamic processes of subduction, mantle convection and surface volcanism, which control the redistribution of chemical constituents between the crust and mantle reservoirs. We are also interested in addressing a diverse array of geochemical questions, pertaining to both igneous and crustal systems as well as groundwater systems.

We have thousands of volcanic samples in our collection here at WHOI that need to be organized (i.e., mineral picking) and analyzed for their geochemical signatures using state of the art mass spectrometry. COVID permitting, there will be ample opportunities to choose which samples we want to investigate and analyze in the Barry Lab.

Gas geochemistry lab work requires diligence and attention to detail, but little experience. If students can be on-site this summer, you will learn the ins and outs of using a mass spectrometer and all about vacuum extraction systems. There are also opportunities to develop new and improved methods of data processing.

Video: Biology Meets Subduction

Barry Lab website

Instruments and Facilities

People in the lab

Ocean circulation and climate

Sophie Hines
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Ocean circulation has a huge impact on global climate via direct heat transport from the equator to the poles and by the deep ocean’s capacity to store carbon for 1,000s of years. Our group seeks to understand the ocean’s role in past major climate changes by reconstructing deep ocean circulation using a variety of geochemical proxies within several deep ocean climate archives (primarily marine sediments and deep-sea corals). By understanding the range of natural variability in the ocean over major climate transitions in the past—such as glacial-interglacial cycles—we will be able to better understand how the ocean and climate may change in the future.

Potential Summer Student Fellow projects include using isotopes and/or trace element ratios (e.g. radiocarbon, Nd isotopes, Mg/Ca, Cd/Ca, Mg/Li) to investigate deep ocean circulation and chemistry over glacial-interglacial climate changes in the past. Students will learn how to process samples in WHOI’s trace-metal clean lab facilities, where HEPA-filtered air prevents samples from being contaminated, and measure them in the WHOI Plasma Lab, which houses a Neptune MC-ICP-MS for high-precision isotope ratio measurements, and a quadrupole ICP-MS for trace element ratio measurements. Depending on the project, students could also take advantage of WHOI’s world-renowned NOSAMS radiocarbon facility.

Hines Lab website
WHOI Plasma Lab
NOSAMS Radiocarbon Lab

Isotope Biogeochemistry

Tristan Horner
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graphics-2016_SSFs-Ben_Geyman-Horner-_DSC3969_small_447773

Ben Geyman (2016 SSF), Tristan Horner, and Maureen Auro inspecting a trace-metal sample in the clean room. (Tom Kleindinst, WHOI)

Marine sediments are valuable historical archives that document the evolution of the Earth System. However, relating the geochemistry of certain sedimentary deposits back to the environment in which they formed is not necessarily straightforward, since the information recorded can be ‘blurred’ by additional processes taking place during and after deposition (e.g., biological effects artifacts, overprinting, unidentified processes). Thus, it is imperative to conduct studies in diverse modern environments to fully appreciate how the chemistry of the geological record is written.

As a Summer Student Fellow in the NIRVANA Labs, you will learn how to apply multi-element geochemical and/or stable-isotopic techniques (e.g., Ba-, Cd-, Fe-, Mo-, Tl-, V-, and Zn-isotopic analyses) to probe the language of the geological record. These techniques will be honed in our state-of-the-art metal-free clean lab (pictured). Potential project areas include development and/or application of geochemical tracers for primary productivity, ocean redox, and nutrient (re)cycling.

NIRVANA research group

Biogeochemical Modeling

Hyewon 'Heather' Kim
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Our Biogeochemical Modeling Laboratory at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution
aims to understand the impact and feedback of marine biogeochemical dynamics on
the Earth’s climate system. We develop and utilize mechanistic biogeochemical models
of differing complexity in conjunction with the analysis of observations and data-driven
modeling.

We are looking for Summer Student Fellows who are interested in any of the topics below:
• Ocean Carbon Dioxide Removal (CDR)
• Microbial control on the biological carbon pump
• Biophysical interactions in polar oceans

Hyewon 'Heather' Kim's profile

Biogeochemical Modeling Laboratory

Marine Chemistry, Instrumentation and Engineering

Matthew Long
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Long_photo1_508575My research explores the ways that natural and anthropogenic processes influence the structure and function of marine ecosystems through unique engineering solutions, advanced instrumentation, and technology development. Studies of biogeochemical cycling, physical transport processes, and bio-physical interactions are principle components of my research into carbon and nutrient cycling in coastal environments. These topics are significant because the long-term effects of human activities, which are rapidly altering climatic conditions and nutrient cycling, are not well understood.

Opportunities in my lab include the development of low-cost sensors through electro-mechanical engineering, development of advanced sensors and control systems, and field application and testing of sensing platforms. Advanced sensing systems collect high-frequency data (e.g. water chemistry, turbulence) which is Long_logo_508573used to calculate chemical fluxes through boundary layer exchange techniques allowing for opportunities for experience in time-series analysis, fluid mechanics, and biogeochemistry. Fellows with combined experience in engineering or biogeochemistry, and interests in electro-mechanical engineering, fluid mechanics, or ecosystem science will are encouraged to join the Machine Lab gain experience in interdisciplinary scientific research.

Matthew Long's profile

Ocean Observing and Modeling to Understand Biogeochemical Cycles and Carbon Fluxes

David (Roo) Nicholson
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In the Nicholson biogeochemical ocean observing and modeling lab (BOOMLAB) we use biogeochemical sensor observations on platforms such as floats, gliders and autonomous surface vehicles to better understand ocean carbon uptake, oxygen cycling and primary productivity. BOOMLAB is helping to build a new sensor network for the global ocean called the Global Ocean Biogeochemical Array (or GO-BGC) and will deploy biogeochemical Argo floats to provide the observations needed to answer questions such as (1) Will the ocean continue to take up ~25% of carbon emitted by human activity? (2) How will future warming impact the productivity and rates of photosynthesis in the ocean? and (3) What are the patterns and trends in the size of oxygen deficient zones and ocean acidification? SSF projects could involve analysis of chemical and optical sensor data from these systems to better understand ocean productivity and carbon fluxes. Another project we are involved in is EXport Processes in the Ocean RemoTe Sensing (EXPORTS). EXPORTS is a large-scale NASA-led field campaign that will provide critical information for quantifying the export and fate of upper ocean net primary production (NPP) using satellite observations and state of the art ocean technologies. For EXPORTS, BOOMLAB members are comparing sensor-based observations from gliders and floats to ship and satellite measurements to develop improved algorithms for estimating carbon fluxes in the ocean.

If you have a strong quantitative background and an interest in ocean technology and computational approaches to studying biogeochemistry we encourage you to check out our group. As a summer student in the BOOMLAB you will learn about large scale biogeochemical cycles, ocean sensors, and build programming skills to interpret in situ, model and remotely sensed datasets.

BOOMLAB website

Global Ocean Biogeochemistry Array

EXPORTS Project

Calcium Carbonate Cycling

Adam Subhas
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The Subhas Lab studies all of the organisms that grow calcium carbonate shells in the ocean.  We are interested in the cycling of calcium carbonate and how this cycle can influence carbon budgets and atmospheric CO2 on several different timescales.  For the summer of 2021,  we are looking for a student who is interested in the global carbon cycle and how the ocean absorbs and neutralizes CO2. In particular, we are interested in examining the distribution of alkalinity, or buffering capacity, in the ocean, and its relationship to the production and fate of calcium carbonate particles.  This remote project will involve analyzing brand new databases of seawater chemistry and particulate data to investigate the coupling of carbon and alkalinity generation in the ocean.  Primary tools will be a laptop and the MATLAB software (provided by WHOI).  Previous experience with MATLAB is not required -- all that is necessary is a willingness to learn this programming language!  Please visit the Subhas Lab website for more information about our lab and the kinds of things we work on: subhaslab.whoi.edu

CO2 Chemistry, Ocean Acidification and Sensor Development

Zhaohui Aleck Wang
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In Wang’s CO2 chemistry lab, we study seawater carbonate chemistry, coastal carbon cycle, ocean acidification (OA), and the blue carbon cycle. We are also specialized to develop in situ sensors to measure seawater CO2 parameters and other chemical species. Potential summer projects include:

(1) New-generation in situ carbon and pH sensors. The goal of this work is to develop low-cost in situ sensor system for high-frequency measurements of seawater CO2 parameters, i.e., pH, pCO2 and dissolved inorganic carbon (DIC). We will leverage this development and our on-going collaborations with the fishing community, NOAA fishery, and citizen scientists for large-scale deployments of these sensors to establish a cost-effective, wireless connected, openly accessible coastal carbon observing network.

(2) Investigating links between environmental conditions and scallop to predict the regional vulnerability of fishing stocks of the US Northeast coast under future climate change. The project will investigate the impacts of ocean acidification and warming on the Atlantic sea scallop fishery in the US northeast coast. We will develop a high-resolution carbonate chemistry model to examine the links between carbonate chemistry conditions (along with temperature) and meat condition of Atlantic sea scallop on the northeast shelf. The new model will be used to be incorporated into a stock assessment model to assess the impacts of climate change on Atlantic sea scallop biomass and landings in the region.

Zhaohui 'Aleck' Wang's profile

Marine Policy Center

Studies of Coupled Nature-Human Systems

Di Jin, Yaqin Liu, Mike Neubert and Hauke Kite-Powell

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MPC_2018_479816

This figure depicts the economic geography of global sea cucumber exploitation from work undertaken by 2017 SSF Kate Rawson from Mount Holyoke College. Temporal isoclines show fisheries expanding as those more proximate to the main Asian market become overexploited and fail to meet demand. Colored lines represent the global distribution of sea cucumber fisheries within a given decade; specific starting years of some fisheries are labeled over the general location of the largest city (by population) within the participating country.

Researchers at the WHOI Marine Policy Center (MPC) conduct social scientific research that integrates economics, policy analysis, and law with WHOI’s basic research in ocean sciences. While MPC’s research is based in rigorous academic disciplines, such as economics, much of it is applied in nature and motivated by current issues in coastal and marine resource management. Areas of recent research include: human responses to shoreline change; the economic effects of harmful algal blooms; the consequences of channel deepening in major estuaries; ecosystem-based fisheries management; aquaculture development and fisheries management in developing countries; and coastal and marine spatial planning. Students are offered the opportunity to choose project topics from a list of current projects or to develop their own projects. Many MPC student projects involve exploring the impacts of human activities on the coastal or marine environments by linking economic models to models of natural systems.

Marine Policy Center

Marine Resource Management under Changing Social and Ecological Conditions
Di Jin

Sustainable marine resource management must adapt to short- and long-term changes in social and ecological conditions. The project will explore long-term trends in fisheries and aquaculture production and trade, as well as relevant changes in resource conditions and management policies. The analysis will use historical data from NOAA Fisheries and FAO and ecosystem parameters from the marine scientific literature. Selection of a specific study area, species, and policy issue will be jointly determined with the student. Examples of research topics include, but is not limited to, US seafood production and dependence on imports, impacts of Harmful algal blooms (HABs), potential harvest of marine resources from the ocean twilight zone, and marine spatial planning for multiple ocean uses. This research may be conducted 100% remotely.

Marine protected areas and conservation with knowledge on coral reef thermal tolerance
Yaqin Liu

Coral reefs provide highly productive habitat for fisheries in the tropics. But coral reefs today face unprecedented threats from both direct exploitation of reef resources and more recently, climate change. Traditional coral reef Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) are designed to manage local threats, with criteria for protections focused on, for example, biodiversity indices and fish spawning grounds. Yet, while the speed and scale of climate change impacts on coral reefs threaten to overwhelm these efforts, climate resilience is not yet integrated into management strategies for coral reefs. Collaborating with the Cohen Lab, we employ economic models to extend an existing framework for MPA design to incorporate information about climate change resilience, specifically the locations of thermally-tolerant coral reef communities that have potential to survive future warming. In this project, you will learn and practice economic modeling, simulation in Matlab to explore potential conservation results under various climate scenarios. Any inquiries – please shoot me an email - https://directory.whoi.edu/profile/yaqliu/

Assess the value of recreational shellfish fisheries in Cape Cod
Yaqin Liu

We have conducted survey with recreational shellfishers in all the 15 towns of Cape Cod and have received over 1000 responses. We then will use R to process data and utilize the travel cost model to estimate an economic value of the recreational shellfish fisheries. The work is intensive in R coding. If you are good in R and would like to advance your skills, this is a great opportunity. Guidance on economic model estimation and model selection will be provided. Any questions – please shoot me an email - https://directory.whoi.edu/profile/yaqliu/

Mathematical models of marine populations and communities
Mike Neubert

In my laboratory, we formulate and analyze mathematical models to address scientific questions that arise in the study of marine populations or communities. Many (but not all) of these questions have to do with how best to conserve or manage populations in the face of some form of stress (e.g., invasive pests, habitat disturbance, harvesting, or climate change). The project a summer student might work on in my lab will depend upon a combination of the student’s mathematical and computational training and biological interests. Examples include developing models to study (1) the efficacy of various forms of fisheries management in the face of environmental uncertainty, (2) how best to manage the spread of an invasive species, (3) phytoplankton population dynamics, (4) the population dynamic consequences of transgenerational or maternal effects, or (5) zombies.

Large-scale seaweed farming systems
Hauke Kite-Powell

Researchers at the WHOI Marine Policy Center (MPC) are working with scientists and engineers at WHOI and at other institutions to develop technologies for potential future large-scale ocean farming of seaweeds, including kelp and tropical species, as a feedstock for biofuel. One major challenge is to bring the cost of large-scale ocean farming down so that marine feedstocks can be competitive with land-based production. Farm location, layout, gear design, and operating paradigms all affect both the capital and operating costs of the farm, and the biological yield from the seaweed crop. This project involves the use of spreadsheet models to identify the key parameters in farm design, operations, and siting that will determine economic viability. Additional project information

Entanglement risk modeling
Hauke Kite-Powell

Researchers at the WHOI Marine Policy Center (MPC) are working with members of the protected species programs at NOAA and the New England Aquarium on ways to estimate the risk posed to North Atlantic Right Whales and other protected species by new types of ocean activities such as aquaculture. Entanglement in fishing gear is a major source of injury and mortality for marine mammals. As interest grows in farming shellfish, seaweeds, and finfish in waters off New England, understanding and managing these risks becomes critically important. The project involves working with GIS data on species abundance and spreadsheet models of entanglement risk to estimate risk from various types of aquaculture gear in locations off New England. Additional project information

Value of investments in ocean science
Hauke Kite-Powell

Researchers at the WHOI Marine Policy Center (MPC) are working with NOAA and other agencies to better understand the economic value generated by the resources the United States allocates each year to ocean science and ocean research.  Understanding the value chain from investments in ocean science to the ultimate economic effects is important for several reasons: it helps government gauge the appropriate overall amount that should be spent on ocean science, and it helps allocate effort appropriately within the overall ocean science and research enterprise.  Projects may involve looking at this question in the areas of weather and climate forecasts, ocean acidification, tsunami warnings, and fisheries management.

US seafood supply chain security
Hauke Kite-Powell

Researchers at the WHOI Marine Policy Center (MPC) are working with the US seafood industry to identify vulnerabilities in the US seafood supply chain, which relies extensively on overseas trade and seafood production in other nations.  We will assemble and analyze seafood trade data, and a characterize risks that may affect overseas supply and trade flows in the future; and we will identify steps the US can take to increase the resilience of its seafood supply.  Projects may involve data assembly and analysis, and applying simple modeling techniques to seafood trade flows to identify supply chain vulnerabilities.

Physical Oceanography Dept.

Coastal Ocean Dynamics and Observations

Anthony Kirincich
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Our research focuses on mechanisms of exchange and stirring in the coastal ocean as well as improving observations of this heavily utilized ocean zone.  We work to understand the basic physics of coastal processes as well as the uses and impacts of ocean users such as offshore wind energy on the coastal ocean. We use moorings, autonomous vehicles (robots!), and remote sensing (ground based radars and lidars) to observe and study the ocean and atmosphere above it.
Potential Projects:
Honing new methods of ocean sensing via High Frequency Radar
Offshore wind energy-specific observations of winds, atmospheric turbulence, and sensor validation
Ocean Eddies, turbulence, and mixing across the coastal ocean

Suggested Preparations:
Some introductory familiarity with Matlab/Python or other analysis programs
Basic physics classes

New skills acquired:
Improved coding via Matlab or Python
Experience conducting land-based and at-sea field work
A deeper understanding of both ocean physics and societal applications
Anthony Kirincich's profile

Intermediate/Deep Ocean Circulation

Viviane Meneses
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Figure 1. Main RSOW pathways in the Arabian Sea based on particle tracking simulations. Pathways displayed are: Southwest Pathway, Northwest Pathway, Socotra Passage Pathway, Central Pathway, Eastern Pathway and Southern Pathway.

We are observational physical oceanographers experienced in handling a wide variety of data sets. Our observational focus means that while we employ model output and theory, our research always returns to the observations. We are all interested ocean circulation and water properties and how they may be changing in space and time.

The intermediate and deep ocean (> 1000 m) plays a crucial role in regulating the Earth's climate on long timescales. But our knowledge of the deep ocean's circulation and water masses variability is still at an early stage. Historically, in-situ observations of the deep/intermediate ocean have been unevenly distributed globally due to a mix of social, economic, and geopolitical issues. The Indian Ocean is one of the world's poorest observed oceanic regions, especially for depths below 500 m. Consequently, even basic aspects of the intermediate/deep Indian Ocean are unknown. With the advent of Argo floats (robots that can measure temperature, salinity, and pressure from the surface to about 2000 m) in the last 15 years and new realist computer simulations, there is unprecedented opportunity to solve old enigmas about Indian Ocean intermediate circulation. One is: How do the (very) salty Red Sea Overflow Water (RSOW) spread in the Indian Ocean? This question has been on the mind of oceanographers since the 1930s, as this water mass is one of the main sources of salt for the oceanic intermediate layer. But, no conclusive answer has been reached to date. The RSOW is formed (i.e., sank from the surface to depths) in the interior of the arid Red Sea and escapes to the open ocean through the Strait of Bab al-Mandeb. From there, the pathways are obscure, although the salty RSOW fingerprint is easily spotted in many places in the Indian Ocean. The National Science Foundation has funded the present project to investigate the RSOW pathways and variability, combining traditional analysis of in-situ observations (Argo and shipboard) and modern particle tracking simulations (in which particles are followed to determine their pathways). Figure 1 shows a schematic of the RSOW pathways in the Arabian Sea revealed by this approach.

We foresee two possible aspects in which a student could be entrained:  a) examining the large-scale pathways of RSOW from the Red Sea to different places in the Indian Ocean and the export to the South Atlantic based on already existent particle tracking simulations, or b) analyzing in-situ observations from Argo floats and shipboard (GO-SHIP cruises) for chasing temperature-salinity RSOW fingerprints. In both suggestions, the student will learn Matlab (or Python depending on the interest. Matlab and Python are the most used programming languages in physical oceanography) and statistical analysis. There is the possibility of running particle tracking simulations to familiarize with the technique. The student will work closely with the PI, who is a data-analyst and sea-going physical oceanographer. The PI's particular focus lies in the complexities of the Indian Ocean. The project will be hands-on; no prior knowledge is required and can be adapted to specific student interests.

Viviane Meneses profile

Article: Mysteries of the Red Sea

NSF award: Inter-hemispheric Water Exchange in the Indian Ocean: Discovering the Red Sea Overflow Water Pathways and Variability

Article: Advective pathways and transit times of the Red Sea Overflow Water in the Arabian Sea from Lagrangian simulations

Model Simulations and Tracer Study

Irina Rypina, Alison Macdonald and Sachiko Yoshida
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Figure 1. a, b, c, d

Our group came together initially in the aftermath of the massive 2011 earthquake and ensuing tidal wave that destabilized the Japanese Fukushima Dai-ichi Nuclear Power Plant (FDNPP) and sent radioisotopes into the atmosphere and ocean. We have both taken measurements ourselves off the coast of Japan and in the Northeast Pacific and collaborated with other observational groups. We are now using the radioisotope signals from the full international database of FDNPP isotopes (https://maris.iaea.org/home), in particular radiocesium, to improve understanding of pathways, timing and dynamics of North Pacific waters.

Irina Rypina’s expertise is in the Lagrangian approach to studying transport and exchange processes using numerical modeling, observations, and theory. Alison Macdonald is an observational physical oceanographer interested in the transport and variability of ocean waters and their properties. Sachiko Yoshida has worked with a variety of observations including those with regional and full basin focus, hurricanes and the Argo float program (https://argo.ucsd.edu/).

The damaged FDNPP ejected contaminants into an atmosphere that deposited large quantities of radiocesium in the northwest Pacific. It also leaked contaminated coolants into coastal waters. Most importantly from physical oceanographic perspective the accident occurred in March and April in a region of the ocean known for its energetic late winter/early spring mixing. The waters created by the intense mixing spread into the Pacific Ocean, carrying radioisotopes with it. Water samples collected both near the Japan coast and across the basin tell us a story of how the contaminants and the waters have traveled and evolved over time both horizontally and vertically due to ocean currents and mixing processes. To better understand the dynamics that have produced the specific patterns we see, we are presently carrying out particle simulations in numerical models and working with observations from drifters and floats – instruments that are advected by the currents allowing tracking the movement of ocean water. Following on previous efforts (including those of our former WHOI Summer Student Fellows), we would like to entrain a summer student in the running and analysis of these simulations. We are particularly interested in learning about the signal’s eventual fate in the Alaska Gyre as opposed to subtropical gyre to the south.

We will be working in the Matlab software environment. Some programming experience in any language would be useful, but is not required. Some math background is required. Our student can expect to: partake in a non-judgmental collaborative investigation (i.e., brainstorming); use/learn analysis skills including oceanographic data analysis, working with numerical model output, and applying/developing both conventional and novel statistical techniques to drifter and float data; use/learn software design and development skills; use or acquire-the-ability-to develop and present sound scientific results both orally and through writing; and possibly participate in a peer-reviewed manuscript development.

Figure 1: a) Observations of 134Cs (2-yr half-life, units Bq m-3, size representing signal magnitude) made by S. Yoshida in 2013 along 30°N in the western Pacific overlaid on density contours illustrating the depth and breadth of the FDNPP signal two years after the accident; b) the same signal overlaid on density contours estimated from the high-resolution 1/12° global HYCOM model; c) an estimated arrival time for particles moving back in time that left leaving the region of pink square (i.e., the location of the red dot in (a)) 2013; and d) the probability that said particles would have emanated from the vicinity of the FDNPP in spring 2011. (c and d) are the based a backward simulation of HYCOM model output where 134Cs-carrying particles are placed into the ocean at the location of the pink square in June 2013 and followed back in time, then sorted to use only those particles that interacted with upper waters inside the purple polygon (representing the region of maximum FDNPP atmospheric deposition and including the FDNPP waters directly discharged into the ocean) in the spring two years earlier. The red star signifies the location of FDNPP. These are results from our former summer student fellow, Ella Cedarholm (Cedarholm, E. R., I. I. Rypina, A. M. Macdonald and S. Yoshida (2019). Investigating subsurface pathways of Fukushima Cs in the Northwest Pacific, Geophys. Res. Lett., doi:10.1029/2019GL082500).

Project website: Tracing Fukushima

Irina Rypina's profile

Alison Macdonald's profile

Sachiko Yoshida's profile

Role of oceans in extreme weather and short-term climate events

Hyodae Seo
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I am a climate scientist interested in the role of oceans in extreme weather and short-term climate events. This potential project concerns the impacts of spatial variability in sea state on air-sea fluxes in the Southern Ocean. In particular, the project will investigate how to represent the effects of surface waves and mesoscale ocean processes in air-sea flux parameterizations under strong winds. The project can consider running idealized coupled model simulations of the ocean, atmosphere, and waves to explore how the wave/current-mediated air-sea fluxes influence atmospheric processes such as extratropical storms.

Hyodae Seo's profile

Climate Science

Caroline Ummenhofer
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Understanding climate variability and extreme events by synthesizing information from climate and ocean models, observations, and paleoclimate records

Impacts of multi-decadal variability associated with the Interdecadal Pacific Oscillation (IPO) on Indo-Pacific climate. Salinity, temperature, upper 700 m ocean heat content (OHC) and thermocline anomalies (left) during positive IPO phases, when the Walker circulation and Indonesian Throughflow (ITF) are weaker, and (right) during negative IPO phases, when the Walker circulation and ITF are stronger. Positive and negative subsurface temperature changes are indicated by solid and dashed contours, respectively. Changes in the Walker circulation have implications for hydroclimate and extreme events in Indian Ocean rim countries.

Ummenhofer’s group focuses on ocean-atmosphere interactions, variability and change across different components of the climate system, and the resulting regional impacts. We aim to develop an understanding of the underlying mechanisms of the ocean’s role in regional climate. We address rainfall variability and extreme events, such as droughts, floods, and storms, across a range of scales: from individual synoptic events to interannual, decadal variability and beyond. Research involves both present-day climate conditions, past variability over the late Holocene, as well as future changes in a warming world.

Potential projects could address variability and change in tropical hydroclimate around the Indian Ocean (e.g., East Africa, Indian subcontinent, Southeast Asia, Australia), as well as links to the Pacific, using climate models and environmental proxies (e.g., stalagmites, corals, or tree-ring records); combine weather information from historic documents, such as whaling ship logbooks, to track changing wind patterns around the world; or explore impacts of extreme events such as droughts, storm events, or marine heat waves on human or natural systems.

Caroline Ummenhofer's lab

Long-term trend in North Atlantic storminess in satellite observations and climate model simulations

Lisan Yu and Young-Oh Kwon
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Lisan Yu’s research group focuses on quantifying air-sea interaction and the role of the ocean in climate based on the OAFlux, a state-of-the-art observational air-sea flux dataset (https://oaflux.whoi.edu/). The primary research interest of Young-Oh Kwon’s group is to understand the role of ocean in climate variability and change using the climate models (https://www2.whoi.edu/staff/ykwon/). We are looking for a summer student fellow to investigate the air-sea interaction in both satellite datasets and various climate model simulations to better understand its role in climate variability and change. One particular research topic is to investigate the long-term trend in storminess over high-latitude North Atlantic from satellite-derived surface wind observations of the past 30+ years and to use climate model simulations to determine whether the observed long-term trend is due to natural variability or anthropogenic climate change.

This summer project would provide the summer student fellow an experience in analyzing large datasets from both satellite observations and climate model simulations as well as gaining physical insights into the changes of storminess patterns in a warming world. Prior experience with coding using python or matlab would be useful for this summer project.

US Geological Survey - Woods Hole Coastal and Marine Science Center

Marine Geohazards

Uri ten Brink and Jason Chaytor
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Marine geohazard assessments require accurate maps and measurements. For example, to assess the hazard associated with offshore faults and their potential to generate large earthquakes, it is important to not only measure the length of the faults but also be able to see displacement and sense of movement. The tools that marine geologists have at their disposal for mapping and understanding the geology of the seabed differ significantly from those of continental field geologists. In field geology, a geologist’s own sense of sight and touch, plus natural light are the most important tools; all of these are difficult to apply to work in the deep sea. Exploration programs and multi-disciplinary investigations of seafloor environments containing evidence of marine geohazards using Remotely Operated vehicles (ROV) have resulted in the increasing availability of high-resolution seafloor imagery.

We are looking for a student to analyze a dataset of underwater videos taken by an ROV at depths of 200-3000 meters over faults and submarine landslides in the vicinity of Puerto Rico. The student will use an advanced Structure-from-Motion (SfM) photogrammetry technique to mosaic the high-definition seafloor imagery into coherent images of the various geological features. This technique will allow the student to identify seafloor features at outcrop scale with wider context than direct video or image interpretation alone and to analyze them quantitatively, thus matching the resolution and quality of field collected data from terrestrial outcrops.

Uri ten Brink's profile

Jason Chaytor's profile

Coastal Wetland Science

Meagan Eagle
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USGS staff and intern take elevation measurements in a freshwater wetland.

Coastal wetlands have experienced a dramatic reduction in area over the past century since they occur at the nexus of population growth and dynamic environmental change, including rising sea level and temperature and enhanced nutrient loads. Salt marshes are coastal ecosystems that provide a wealth of services, including bird and fish habitat, storm surge protection and carbon burial. This last ecosystem service is of interest due to rising atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) levels primarily driven by the burning of fossil fuels and land use changes. Research in the Environmental Geochemistry group at USGS focuses on how these critical habitats respond to stressors, such as sea-level rise, and management decisions, including managing hydrologic flow. We have a range of capabilities, from field sediment and water collections, to greenhouse gas measurements, to laboratory carbon and radionuclide analyses. We work collaboratively with scientists and land managers from WHOI, the Waquoit Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve, the Fish and Wildlife Service, the National Park Service and local management officials. We seek interns who are interested in coastal wetlands, with potential projects ranging from sediment coring and analysis, greenhouse gas measurements across wetland management gradients, dissolved carbon transport, and mapping products.

Project Details: Subsidence and carbon burial loss due to anthropogenic wetland ditching: This project would assess the impact of ditching, where marshes were altered to reduce mosquito prevalence, on carbon burial at the scale of the continental U.S. This project would involve assessing mapped products, as well as synthesizing literature on carbon burial and land subsidence associated with anthropogenic ditching. Greenhouse gas impacts of rewetting impounded wetlands: A local field site is currently impounded, or restricted from daily tides, but due to elevation loss is at risk of flooding when the sea breaches the beach sand dunes. Using field experiments, this project would assess the greenhouse gas (CH4, CO2) impacts of seawater flooding of impounded wetland environments.

New skills and training: Intern will gain field skills in greenhouse gas flux measurements; learn how to operate a gas chromatograph; learn the described laboratory methods; gain experience in wetland carbon cycle research; learn data analysis in R; and learn methods data presentation. Such activities are excellent preparation for geoscience careers. In addition, the candidate will have the opportunity to prepare and present the research results at a USGS Center meeting at the culmination of their internship.

Woods Hole Coastal and Marine Science Center - Wetland Geochemistry and Coastal Resilience

Meagan Eagle staff profile