Skidaway Institute of Oceanography
Due to complications presented by Hurricane Matthew, Skidaway Marine Science Day, which was originally scheduled for Saturday, October 22, will NOT be presented. Unfortunately, rescheduling the event is not feasible this fall. The event will be back bigger and stronger next year. Meanwhile, the UGA Aquarium will be open with its regular Saturday hours of 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Savannah residents Michelle and Barry Vine presented a gift of $79,000 to the University of Georgia Skidaway Institute of Oceanography to support the institute’s cutting-edge oceanographic research. In recognition of the gift, UGA Skidaway Institute plans to name an observation laboratory in honor of Michelle Vine’s father, Albert Dewitt Smith Jr. The Vines’ gift is the largest monetary donation ever given to UGA Skidaway Institute.Michelle Vine presents her gift to UGA Skidaway Institute interim director Clark Alexander in front of the soon-to-be-renovated show barn.
“We are pleased to support the UGA Skidaway Institute of Oceanography in its continuous effort to conduct research and protect our coastal environment,” said Michelle Vine. “Every day we enjoy the benefits of living on the coast, and as a community, we should never forget how important Skidaway Institute is to us.”
Vine’s father, Al Smith, was a World War II Marine Corps veteran, and, like his daughter, a UGA graduate. He worked in industrial relations for General Motors in Doraville, Lockheed in Marietta and Union Camp Corp. in Atlanta and Savannah. For the last 12 years before his death in 1998, he owned Complete Security Systems.
The Albert Dewitt Smith Jr. Observational Laboratory will be located in the soon-to-be-created Center for Hydrology and Marine Processes. Earlier this year, the Georgia General Assembly approved a $3 million appropriation to renovate and repurpose a circa-1947 concrete cattle show barn for laboratory and meeting spaces and as a home for the center. Innovative for its time, the cattle barn was constructed by the Roebling family. The Roeblings established the Modena Plantation in the mid-1930s, and raised black angus cattle and Hampshire hogs before they donated their land to the state in 1967 to create Skidaway Institute.
“We are very grateful to the Vines for their generous gift,” said UGA Skidaway Institute Interim Director Clark Alexander. “This will help support our education and research activities, both here on the coast and around the world.”
“The UGA Skidaway Institute is a division of the University of Georgia, but it also relies heavily on local support,” Vine said. “Please join us by donating online at www.skio.uga.edu, and becoming a member of ASI, the Associates of Skidaway Institute.”
Scientists at the University of Georgia Skidaway Institute of Oceanography have received a $527,000 grant from the National Science Foundation Chemical Oceanography Program to answer one of the long-standing questions about carbon in the ocean—the rate sunlight produces carbon dioxide from organic carbon molecules in the sea.Researchers Aron Stubbins (l) and Jay Brandes
Jay Brandes, Leanne Powers and Aron Stubbins will use a new technique they developed to measure this process, which is known as photo-degradation.
The ocean is full of millions of different types of organic compounds. Some are consumed by bacteria, but many are not easily consumed and remain in the ocean for hundreds or thousands of years. However, near the surface, sunlight causes the breakdown of organic compounds and converts them into carbon dioxide through photo-degradation. Until recently, this process has been nearly impossible to measure directly in most of the ocean because the additional carbon dioxide produced per day is tiny compared to the existing high concentration of CO2 present in the sea.
Brandes described the problem as looking for a needle in a haystack.
“You might think this is not important because it is hard to measure, but that’s not true,” he said. “We’re talking about a process that takes place across the whole ocean. When you integrate that over such a vast area, it becomes a potentially very important process.”Researcher Leanne Powers
The project became possible when the team developed a new technique to measure the change in CO2 concentration in a seawater sample. The concept was the brainchild of Powers, a Skidaway Institute post-doctoral research associate. The technique uses carbon 13, a rare, stable isotope of carbon that contains an extra neutron in its nucleus. Researchers will add a carbon 13 compound to a sample of seawater and then bombard the sample with light. The scientists will then use an instrument known as an isotope ratio mass spectrometer to measure the changes in CO2 concentration.
According to Brandes, this project will be breaking new ground in the field of chemical oceanography.
“We don’t know what the photo-degradation rates are in most of the ocean,” he said. “We are going to establish the first numbers for that.”
The team plans to take samples off the Georgia coast, as well as from Bermuda and Hawaii.
While they will continue to refine the carbon 13 technique, Brandes said it is now time to put that tool to work.
“It is now a matter of establishing what the numbers are in these different locations and trying to develop a global budget,” he said. “Just how much dissolved organic carbon is removed and converted to CO2 every year?”
The project is funded for three years. The team will also create an aquarium exhibit at the UGA Aquarium on the Skidaway Island campus to help student groups and the public understand river and ocean color.
The soil in the Arctic holds a massive store of carbon. These remnants of plants and animals that lived tens of thousands of years ago have been locked in permafost, soil that is always frozen…until now.
UGA Skidaway Institute of Oceanography scientist Aron Stubbins is part of a team that travelled to Siberia to discover what happens to that carbon when the permafrost thaws.