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Posted on September 15, 2019
Two NOAA-EPP supported doctoral candidates received honors at the NOAA NESDIS Cooperative Research Program (CoRP) Science Symposium, held August 27 – 29 at the University of Maryland at College Park. Equisha Glenn, a doctoral candidate in civil engineering at City College of New York, won second prize for Best Oral Presentation and Suhey Ortiz Rosa, who is working toward a PhD in marine sciences at University of Puerto Rico at Mayaguez, won third prize for Best Poster.
Ms. Glenn’s topic was The Role of Convection on the Decreasing Caribbean Precipitation During a Regional, Warming Sea-Surface Temperature Period, 1982-2017. She investigated atmospheric factors besides precipitation that affect climate in the Caribbean, where sea temperatures are rising but precipitation has not increased.
To do this, she first conducted a climatology analysis of the region from remote sensing and satellite data. She then was able to correlate the data against an atmospheric index she located on a NOAA website that is used for weather forecasting in the region.
Her findings indicated the atmospheric conditions matched the annual precipitation cycle, which included a dry season followed by an early rainy season, a second dry season and a late rainy season. Using the index, she saw that convection had the same cycle.
As a civil engineer, her interests center around the impact climate change will have on water security, especially in climate-sensitive regions like the Caribbean. Her long-term objective is to use the information to model future conditions in order to predict climate conditions’ effects on water condition. Another objective is devising a water stress index that would serve as an early warning system to predict water stress and extreme scarcities.
With a career as a marine scientist, Ms. Suhey Ortiz-Rosa’s interests focus on watershed and coastal
management, seascape and landscape ecology, spatial analysis of coastal ecosystems with GIS and remote sensing techniques, biogeochemistry, and bio-optics.
Her current research at La Parguera Natural Reserve investigates Bio-Optical Properties of Complex Waters in Southwestern Puerto Rico and uses enhanced high-resolution satellite data from the Landsat-8 OLI and Sentinel 3 OLCI sensors. These have shown frequent occurrences of “black water” masses not visible in traditional one-kilometer resolution ocean color images.
Suhey is currently investigating the sources and composition of these black water mass and how it affects light attenuation on the water column as it moves through the region. The findings could have ecological implications for coral reefs and seagrass ecosystems, the main primary producers in tropical environments.
Suhey’s poster presented water quality anomalies detected on-field samples as well as satellite-derived data. She used products from Sentinel 3 sensors from the second half of 2017, both before and after the impact of two major hurricanes.
Preliminary results from her work indicate changes in the attenuation coefficient (Kd) and the absorption of dissolved organic matter (ADG), chlorophyll-a and total suspended sediment values over coral reef areas for a longer-than-expected period of time. The findings support the establishment of threshold values (non-previously determined for Puerto Rico) on water quality parameters based on light penetration levels.
“Our results come from work on a relatively small study area, but they may be extrapolated to all of Puerto Rico and the Caribbean archipelago due to the regional similarities,” Suhey said. “This type of analysis and its results could be used to identify anomalies on reef areas and to provide recommendations to coastal water management programs”, she further added.
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