PhD, Marine Sciences Biological Oceanography, Graduate
Cohort Level: Cohort - I
Career Goal: Enter into the NOAA, USFWS, or EPA workforce as an employee or contractor offering my services as a marine scientist or aquatic habitat specialist.
Expected Graduation Date: May 31, 2022
Degree: PhD Marine Sciences Biological Oceanography
Research Title: Bio-Optical and Biogeochemical Characterization of “Dark Water” Events in Tropical Oligotrophic Waters
Research Synopsis: Southwestern Puerto Rico coastal waters can be considered optically complex, ranging from oligotrophic oceanic (Case-1) to near-shore waters influenced by riverine input and bottom resuspension (Case-2). Enhanced high-resolution satellite imagery from the Landsat-8 OLI sensor and others sensors has shown frequent occurrences of “dark water” masses that are hard to detect with traditional one-kilometer resolution ocean color images from ocean color satellite sensors. The origin and possible impacts of these dark water masses have been poorly documented for the Caribbean Region as opposed to Florida waters or the Gulf of Mexico. What are the sources and composition of these water masses and what is their fate? Their role on water column light attenuation and as sources of carbon may have ecological implications on coral reefs and seagrass ecosystems, the main primary producers in tropical environments.
In situ water quality monitoring data and optical parameters provide relevant data for the validation of current and future ocean color sensors. Assessing the dynamics of dark water events is also relevant for understanding little-known biogeochemical processes that might be occurring in southwestern Puerto Rican waters and other insular areas in the Caribbean Region. A secondary goal of this research is to ascertain the impact of Hurricanes Irma and Maria on water quality in Puerto Rican waters.