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Grant from Vetlesen Foundation supports URI Graduate School of Oceanography Climate Research

University of Rhode Island

The G. Unger Vetlesen Foundation of New York City recently awarded the URI Graduate School of Oceanography (GSO) $100,000 to support its work in climate research. The grant will fund two research proposals and provide tuition to match a NASA Space Grant Fellowship for a GSO student.

GSO biological oceanographer Edward Durbin and physical oceanography postdoctoral fellow Yiyong Luo were awarded $35,000 to study pathways for transport of the copepod Calanus finmarchicus between the Labrador Sea and areas in the northwest Atlantic, such as Georges Bank. Calanus finmarchicus is a microscopic crustacean that feeds off phytoplankton and is a favorite food of cod and haddock. Durbin and Luo will use the Princeton Ocean Model with a high resolution grid to determine if seasonal variations in Calanus transport can be linked to climatic variations such as those associated with the North Atlantic Oscillation.

"We are grateful to the Vetlesen Foundation for the funds to conduct this research," said Durbin. "This project provides an excellent opportunity to demonstrate the benefits of combining expertise at GSO in biological distributions and hydrodynamic modeling of transport processes."

An award for $53,800 was also given to geological oceanographers Scott Rutherford, John King, Steven D'Hondt, and Beth Laliberte, biological oceanographers Jeremy Collie, Paul Hargraves, and Candace Oviatt, and atmospheric chemist Brian Heikes. The team of scientists will study New England regional effects of global climate change to build a foundation for climate research where the sea and land meet and interact. The first objective of this project is to compile and make available for distribution to the research community a series of existing datasets related to New England regional climate. The data will be assembled into a systematic database and be analyzed for relationships among the various types of measurements. The datasets to be used include the GSO Beach Survey which spans four decades, GSO pier water property data obtained by Bay Campus's Marine Ecosystems Research Laboratory and others, GSO fish trawl data, GSO phytoplankton biodiversity data, local and regional weather station data, USGS streamflow data, and indices of large scale atmospheric systems.

The second objective of this project is to collect and analyze sediment cores from the oxygen-deprived basins of the Pettaquamscutt estuary to construct a climate series over the past two millenia. These cores will be studied to determine variations in sedimentation and in biogenic constituents such as pollen, fish remains, and plankton remains.


The Vetlesen Foundation provides support for biological, geophysical, and environmental research, as well as public policy research and libraries. The Graduate School of Oceanography is one of a prestigious group of Vetlesen funding recipients in the field of oceanography, including Scripps Institution of Oceanography, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, and Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory.

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 acid rain, global warming, air and water pollution, oil spills, overfishing, and coastal erosion. GSO is home to the Coastal Institute, the Coastal Resources Center, Rhode Island Sea Grant, the Ocean Technology Center, and the National Sea Grant Library.

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