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Carbon Cycle & Ecosystems

Changing climate and land use practices have the potential to dramatically alter coupled hydrologic-biogeochemical processes and associated movement of water, carbon and nutrients through various terrestrial reservoirs. Such changes will ultimately influence the delivery of dissolved and particulate materials from terrestrial systems into rivers, estuaries, and coastal ocean waters. Consequences of climate and land use related changes will be particularly evident in large river basins and their associated coastal outflow regions. The large spatial extent of such systems necessitates a combination of satellite observations and model-based approaches coupled with targeted ground-based site studies to adequately characterize relationships among climate forcing (e.g., wind, precipitation, temperature, solar radiation, humidity, extreme weather), land use practice/land cover change, and transport of materials through watersheds and, ultimately, to coastal regions. An integrated suite of models will be used in conjunction with remotely sensed as well as targeted in situ observations with the objectives of describing processes controlling fluxes on land, their coupling to riverine systems, and the delivery of materials to estuaries and the coastal ocean. Terrestrial hydrological-ecosystem models coupled with hydrological-biogeochemical models of coastal and estuarine systems will be used in conjunction with satellite and in situ observations to examine water quality, transport, and ecosystem function resulting from climate and land use change. Our objectives include the following: 1) Assemble and evaluate long term datasets for the assessment of impacts of climate variability, extreme weather events, and land use practices on transport of water, carbon and nitrogen within terrestrial systems and the delivery of materials to waterways and rivers; 2) Using the Mississippi River as a testbed, develop and evaluate an integrated suite of models to describe linkages between terrestrial and riverine systems, transport of carbon and nutrients in the Mississippi river and its tributaries, and associated cycling of carbon and nutrients in coastal ocean waters; 3) Evaluate uncertainty in model products and parameters and identify areas where improved model performance is needed through model refinement and data assimilation. The proposed research will employ remotely-sensed and in situ observations to both initiate and validate models and provide supporting observations for the interpretation of model products. The proposed effort would address the goals of the solicitation through integrating hydrological and ecological models to better describe and understand the connectivity of upland and coastal marine systems and the manner in which climate, weather and human activities influence processes within the connecting watershed. The chosen region of study provides an excellent setting to carry out this work as there are a large number of supporting datasets and on-going programs that will complement this work. The proposed work is also closely aligned with objectives of the North American Carbon Program and the Ocean Carbon Biogeochemistry (OCB) program and will contribute to efforts to refine continental and ocean margin carbon budgets. Results would also benefit efforts to describe and predict how land use and land cover changes impact coastal water quality including possible effects of coastal eutrophication and hypoxia. Finally, the modeling and observational approaches developed for this work will have applicability to other large river watershed-coastal systems.

Project PI: Steven Lohrenz/The University of Southern Mississippi

1020 Balch Blvd. Stennis Space Center, MS 39529-9904

Phone: (228) 688-3177

Fax: (228) 688-1121

Email: steven.lohrenz@usm.edu

http://www.usm.edu/marine/faculty/steve_lohrenz.php  

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Started: Sep 29, 2010

Last Activity: Jan 04, 2011

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