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Oceanography Department Faculty Present at the 24th Biennial CERF Meeting

  POSTED ON: Monday, January 8, 2018 7:31 AM by A.G. Keppel, J.P. Smith

In early November, three members of the Oceanography faculty presented research at the 24th biennial meeting of the Coastal and Estuarine Research Federation (CERF) held from November 5-9 in Providence, RI.  The conference was attended by nearly 1,500 scientists, managers, and professionals at all career stages from students to senior scientists from 36 US states and 25 foreign countries and was a great chance for some of our faculty to increase exposure of the research done here at USNA. 

Department chair Cecily Steppe gave a talk entitled “Where are the spat?  Relating Severn River oyster reproduction to high-frequency water quality data” describing research undertaken with several other faculty members as well as a former Midshipmen, ENS Grace Pruden.  Dr. Steppe’s work used high-frequency water quality monitoring instruments deployed in the Severn River and measurements of oyster fecundity to explain the low observed levels of juvenile oysters in the Severn River.  She concluded that oysters in the Severn were spawning successfully, therefore, low juvenile settlement might be attributable to insufficient spawning stock for successful fertilization, unfavorable water quality for larval development, or advection from the parental population.  Stay tuned for further work!

Associate Professor Andrew Muller also spoke about water quality in the Severn River, in a talk entitled “Resolving spatiotemporal characteristics of the seasonal hypoxia cycle in shallow estuarine environments”.  Dr. Muller used a combination of an intense program of water quality monitors and detailed models to depict low oxygen areas forming in the mid to upper portions of the Severn and South Rivers.  Interestingly, these hypoxic and anoxic areas seem to be endemic to the tidal tributaries and not intrusions from the deeper waters of the Chesapeake.

Assistant Professor Joe Smith gave a presentation entitled “Validation, verification, and improvement of model predictions for chemical releases in the tidal-fresh Potomac River”.  Dr. Smith discussed his ongoing research funded by the U.S. Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA) to validate and verify (V&V) model predictions for the transport, dispersion, and fate of chemical releases in estuarine systems using the System for Hazard Assessment of Released Chemicals (SHARC), an advanced waterborne hazard fate and transport modeling and analysis tool developed by Maritime Planning Associates, Inc. (MPA).  From 2011-2016, Dr. Smith and Midshipmen from the U.S. Naval Academy Oceanography Department conducted a series of V&V studies where the SHARC model was used to simulate the release of a hazardous chemical agent into the tidal-fresh waters of the Potomac River near Washington, DC under local forcing conditions.  Non-hazardous chemical proxies present in the Potomac River were measured and compared to SHARC model predictions to evaluate model performance. Results from these studies demonstrated that SHARC can predict the transport, dispersion, and fate of conservative and semi-conservative chemical releases in this representative tidal-fresh estuary but also highlighted areas for SHARC model improvement, such as better integration of high-resolution hydrographic & meteorological model data and the refinement of chemical fate algorithms to better quantify how variability in key water column parameters impacts the partitioning and fate of chemical agents in dynamic estuarine systems.

Category: People, Research, Press Releases, Academics

Press Contact

Andrew G. Keppel
Oceanography Department, USNA