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Scenes from The University of Rhode Island

URI oceanographers embark on major scientific expedition in the Mediterranean aboard research vessel Endeavor

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Narragansett, RI -- April 28, 2005 -- A team of URI oceanographers will be traveling to Port-la-Nouvelle, France, next week to meet the URI research vessel Endeavor and begin a major scientific expedition. The focus of the collaborative research project is the carbon cycle, the circulation and movement of carbon atoms through the atmosphere, the land, and the oceans.

Dr. S. Bradley Moran, professor of oceanography at the URI Graduate School of Oceanography (GSO) is the chief scientist of the research cruise. Other GSO personnel participating in the expedition are research associate Roger “Pat” Kelly and graduate students Elly Speicher and Kate Hagstrom. URI media specialist Dana Neugent will also join the team in France to film the expedition for broadcast later this year.

As part of the Rhode Island Endeavor Program, South Kingstown high school teacher Stephen Vincelette will also participate in the Mediterranean research cruise. Vincelette is the first of a select number of Rhode Island educators who will have the opportunity to experience first-hand marine scientific research aboard the research vessel Endeavor.

In addition to the research team from URI, scientists from Greece are partnering with Moran to understand how particulate organic carbon (POC) moves from the surface waters to the depths of the world’s oceans and how it is transformed to dissolved organic carbon. The participation of Greek scientists is the result of a memorandum of understanding between the University of Rhode Island and the Hellenic Centre for Marine Research (HCMR) in Anavyssos, Greece, to foster collaboration on marine science research. That document paved the way for the first joint oceanographic research program in March 2004 for the two institutions to study carbon flux in the Mediterranean Sea.

“This research expedition is exciting because we are working together with scientists from other countries, graduate students, a local high school teacher, and the media on a problem of global significance, the carbon cycle,” said Moran. “This project has an important bearing on a number of national and international carbon cycle research programs.”

The researchers are collecting samples from three study sites characterized by distinct differences in food-web structure and particle sinking fluxes. The sites include the Mediterranean Sea, the western Arctic Ocean, and the northwest Atlantic Ocean. The Arctic expedition took place in spring and summer 2004 and the Atlantic expedition is scheduled for this coming August. Once the field observations are complete, computer models will be developed that will provide accurate information on the mechanisms of estimating upper ocean POC export flux using thorium-234.

Moran’s work is funded by an $827,710 award from the National Science Foundation. Other collaborators on the project include Dr. Adrian Burd of Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta and Dr. George Jackson of Texas A&M University in College Station.

The URI Graduate School of Oceanography is one of the country's largest marine science education programs and one of the world's foremost marine research institutions. Founded in 1961 in Narragansett, RI, GSO serves a community of scientists who are researching the causes of and solutions to such problems as harmful algal blooms, global warming, air and water pollution, oil spills, over-fishing, and coastal erosion. GSO is home to the Coastal Institute, the Coastal Resources Center, Rhode Island Sea Grant, the Institute for Archaeological Oceanography, the Pell Marine Science Library, and the National Sea Grant Library.