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Ocean and Atmospheric Sciences

2022 Capstone Day: Oceanography Department

The 2022 U.S. Naval Academy (USNA) Yard-wide Capstone Day will be held on   May 4 th, 2022.  This is an all-day event with oral project presentations in the morning followed by an afternoon poster session. Oceanography majors will be presenting results of their Honors, Independent, and Capstone Research projects during the afternoon poster session in Alumni Hall. The research and accomplishments of our students this past year are inspiring. We are excited to celebrate their research with you at the 2022 Capstone Day!

Quick Links and Information

Event Information :

Transportation and Security Information :

  • Parking: Navy and Marine Corps Memorial Stadium (contractor charges $5/vehicle)
  • Transportation: Bus service will run continuously between 0700 and 1630. Two buses will be used during high traffic windows (0730-0830; 1230-1330; 1500-1630).
  • Security: All visitors will be screened at Alumni Hall or USNA Gate 1. All visitors must have valid U.S. ID. 

Schedule of Events

0730-1600 Shuttle Bus Service (park at Navy Marine Corps Memorial Stadium)
0730-0830 Continental Breakfast (Alumni Hall Lobby)
0855-1225 Oral Capstone Presentations (see Capstone Day website for details)
1200-1330 Lunch ( Invited) and Superintendent's Remarks in Volgenau Conference Center (Hopper Hall)
1230-1315 Oceanography Department Capstone Day Reception (Chauvenet Hall 218)
Light Refreshments Offered
1330-1530 Poster Capstone Presentations (Alumni Hall; See Poster Layout)
Oceanography abstracts listed below. We appreciate your support of Midshipmen research within the Oceanography Department, and look forward to seeing you on Capstone Day! Questions? Please contact CDR Allon Turek at .


Honors, Independent, and Capstone Research Posters:


Poster #258.  The State and Future of Mixed Layer Temperature and Salinity in the South China Sea

  • Researchers: MIDN 1/C Elena Gilbert
  • Advisors: Assoc. Prof. Andrew Muller, Instr. Alexander R. Davies
  • Project Sponsor: U.S. National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA)
  • Abstract: We will be looking at how the artificial islands of the South China Sea will affect the ocean mixed layer temperatures and salinities in the vicinity of the islands over time. We will be doing this via a machine learning approach to include wavelets and a neural network model.

Poster #259.  Sea-Ice Extent in the Arctic: A Neural Network Approach

  • Researchers: MIDN 1/C Emily Mitchell
  • Advisor: Assoc. Prof. Andrew Muller
  • Project Sponsor: U.S. National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA)
  • Abstract: We are working on creating a model using wavelets and a neural-network approach in order to predict sea ice extent in the arctic.

Poster #260. A Regression Model to Predict Total Suspended Solid Concentrations in the Severn River, MD

  • Researcher: MIDN 1/C Alex Schuerch
  • Advisors: Assoc. Prof. Joseph P. Smith, Instr. Alexander R. Davies
  • Project Sponsor: U.S. Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA)
  • Abstract: In this study discrete water samples were collected from the Severn River for Total Suspended Solids (TSS) concentration measurements along with temperature, salinity, and optical parameter data (turbidity, fluorescent dissolved organic matter (fDOM), chlorophyll-a) over the period from May 2021 – March 2022. Results were used to develop a regression model to predict TSS concentrations in the Severn River, MD from data collected using hand-held multiparameter water quality sondes.

Poster #261. Measurement of the Wintertime Optical Properties of the Severn River

  • Researchers: MIDN 1/C Brandon Jordan, 1/C Deandre Williams, and 1/C Daniel Taylor
  • Advisor(s): Assoc. Prof. Joseph P. Smith, Instr. Alexander R. Davies, and Mr. Benjamin Hickman
  • Project Sponsor: U.S.Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA) and the Volgenau Family
  • Abstract: In this study a YSI i3XO EcoMapper Autonomous Underwater Vehicle (AUV) and a custom-built flow-through system were used to collect continuous in situ measurements of turbidity, chlorophyll-a, fluorescent dissolved organic matter (fDOM), and particle concentrations in surface and bottom waters along the axis of the Severn River in order to quantify spatial differences in the wintertime water column optical properties along the axis of the Severn River.

Poster #262. Thaw Season Constituent Fluxes Through Arctic Rivers to Alaskan North Slope Coastal Waters

  • Researchers: MIDN 1/C Bryce Foxen, 1/C Derek Keglovits
  • Advisor(s): Assoc. Prof. Joseph P. Smith, CAPT (sel) Shawn G. Gallaher
  • Project Sponsor: U.S. Strategic Environmental Defense Research Program (SERDP)
  • Project Collaborators: U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), Engineer Research & Development Center (ERDC), Cold Regions Research & Engineering Laboratory (CRREL), the U.S. Military Academy, and the U.S. Coast Guard Academy 
  • Abstract: Data collected in 2019 and 2021 were used to show that integrated inputs from tundra streams and drainage pathways during the summer thaw season, specifically during episodic periods of extreme precipitation and high stream-river discharge, significantly alter surface water chemistry in and constituent fluxes to the coastal ocean through Arctic rivers like the Sagavanirktok River on the North Slope of Alaska.

Poster #263. Wind-Forcing and Waves in Carr Creek and the Mouth of the Severn River

  • Researchers: MIDN 1/C Frank Bell, 1/C Kelsey Cyrus, 1/C Langston Arnold
  • Advisor(s): Assoc. Prof. Joseph P. Smith, Mr. Benjamin Hickman
  • Project Sponsor: U.S. Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA)
  • Abstract: Wave buoys were deployed in Carr Creek and at the mouth of the Severn River in the Chesapeake Bay to collect wave data (significant wave height, wave period, wave direction) in February-March 2022. These data were compared to weather data to determine and contrast the wintertime wave fields at these two geomorphologically-unique coastal locations under different meteorological forcing conditions.

Poster #264. Early Spring Conditions in Santee Basin and the Potential for Blooms of Harmful Algal Species

  • Researchers: MIDN 1/C Morgan Lang, 1/C Stella Blackwell, 1/C Antonio Orama, 1/C Sarah Ryser
  • Advisor(s): Assoc. Prof. Joseph P. Smith, Instr. Brianna Tracy, Mr. Benjamin Hickman
  • Project Sponsor: Volgenau Family
  • Project Collaborators: Maryland Department of Natural Resources
  • Abstract: Mahogany-colored algal blooms, likely a harmful dinoflagellate, have been observed in the Santee Basin at the U.S. Naval Academy in late-February to April. Data on water column parameters (temperature, salinity, light penetration, nutrients) were collected and evaluated against existing peer-reviewed literature to determine if the late winter-to-early spring water column conditions in Santee Basin are conducive to blooms of potentially harmful 'Mahogany-Tide' dinoflagellate species.

Poster #265. Analysis of Water Level Differences between Annapolis Harbor and the Severn River

  • Researchers: MIDN 1/C Cailin Duffy, 1/C Sierra Averill, 1/C Ciera Hertelendy
  • Advisor(s): Instr. Alexander R. Davies, Assoc. Prof. Joseph P. Smith
  • Project Sponsors: City of Annapolis, Baltimore Gas and Electric (BGE), Campbell Scientific Inc., and the Volgenau Family
  • Abstract: Water level data obtained from the NOAA Annapolis Tide Gauge on the Severn River, a HOBO MX Water Level Logger deployed in Ego Alley, and a Campbell Scientific CS475A-L Radar Water Level Sensor deployed in Spa Creek will be compared and statistically analyzed for differences. Additionally, wind forcing, precipitation, and temperature will be explored to better understand the drivers of the observed differences and trends.

Poster #266. Tidal Current Response to Water Levels in College Creek

  • Researchers: MIDN 1/C Airi Sloan, 1/C Benjamin Hassen, 1/C Anna Kovacs, 1/C LeGrand Pound
  • Advisor(s):  Assoc. Prof. Joseph P. Smith, Mr. Benjamin Hickman
  • Project Sponsor: the Volgenau Family
  • Abstract: In this study, acoustic Doppler current profilers (ADCPs) were used to measure cross-channel and axial current velocities in College Creek over different phases of the tide under varying meteorological forcing conditions to estimate the relationship between water level and mean current response and to identify primary meteorological forcing factors affecting this relationship.

Poster #267. Geophysical & Sedimentological Assessment of the Eaglenest Point Oyster  Restoration Site in Round Bay

  • Researchers: MIDN 1/C Richard Hansen, 1/C Megan Gephart, 1/C Braydon Hammond, 1/C Cory Routen
  • Advisor(s):  Assoc. Prof. Joseph P. Smith, Instr. Brianna Tracy, Mr. Benjamin Hickman
  • Project Sponsor: the Volgenau Family 
  • Project Collaborator: Severn River Associated (SRA)
  • Abstract: A side scan sonar survey of the Eaglenest Point Oyster Restoration Site in upper Round Bay, Severn River, MD was conducted and sediment samples were collected for sediment grain size analysis in February-March 2022. Sediment traps were deployed along with a bottom-moored laser particle size analyzer to quantify wintertime sedimentation rates. Results were compiled to make initial assessment as to the suitability of the Eaglenest Point Oyster Reef site in Round Bay as a potential restoration site.

Poster #268.  Does Intraseasonal Meteorological Variability Modulate Water-Levels along the U.S. East Coast?

  • Researchers: MIDN 1/C Steven Shen
  • Advisor(s):  Prof. Gina Henderson, Instr. Alexander R. Davies
  • Abstract: Nuisance flooding is increasingly threatening the viability of coastal communities along the U.S. East Coast. In this study, we investigate the relationship between intraseasonal meteorological forcing and water level variability at three locations in the mid-Atlantic region. Preliminary results indicate that specific atmospheric patterns support persistent onshore winds and may play a key role in modulating water levels.

Poster #269.  Connecting Antarctic max-Temperature Anomalies and the Madden Julian Oscillation

  • Researchers: MIDN 1/C Sara Vianco
  • Advisor(s):  Prof. Gina Henderson, LT Matthew Lafleur
  • Project Sponsor: U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF)
  • Abstract: Following the occurrence of extreme melt events in Antarctica, this study relied on the Real time Multivariate MJO Index, the ERA-5 dataset, and GSOD station data to analyze the occurrence of max temperature anomalies during the 8 active MJO phases. We relied on MATLAB (R2021a) to process and visualize the data, and to infer whether or not the teleconnection between the MJO and the Antarctic atmosphere influenced patterns of these anomalies.

Poster #291.  Optical Tracking of a Chemical Plume in a Shallow Water Estuarine System Using a Custom ASV 

  • Researchers: MIDN 1/C Megan LaMendola
  • Advisor(s):  Assoc. Prof. Joseph P. Smith, Mr. Benjamin Hickman
  • Project Sponsor: U.S. Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA)
  • Abstract: This study will demonstrate the capability of tracing the optical signature of chemical plumes using a custom-built autonomous surface vehicle (ASV) in Carr Creek, a shallow sub-tributary of the Severn River in Chesapeake Bay. The precited dispersion and transport of a simulated input of a waterborne chemical hazard will be compared with the actual dispersion of plumes from live releases of inert chemical proxy agents with known optical properties (dye release) as measured by the ASV.

Poster #292.  Variability in Wintertime Microplastic Concentrations and Particle Counts in Annapolis Harbor

  • Researchers: MIDN 1/C Gustel Bamanabio, 1/C Brycen Groess, 1/C Andrea Martinez, 1/C Alexandra Schofield
  • Advisor(s):  Instr. Brianna Tracy, Assoc. Prof. Joseph P. Smith
  • Project Sponsor: Volgenau Family
  • Abstract: The goal of this study is to quantify the concentration of microplastics in the Annapolis Harbor area through both gross weight and particle counts of the collected plastics. These samples will provide baseline winter data on microplastics within the Harbor area and insight into the reproducibility of concurrent microplastic transect collections. The data will also be compared to the results of microplastics data collected in previous years.

Poster #293.  Tracing a Wastewater Effluent Plume in Carr Creek

  • Researchers: MIDN 1/C Tanner Gage, 1/C Meghan Sculli, 1/C Phillip Lee, 1/C Sydney Dinan
  • Advisor(s):  Assoc. Prof. Joseph P. Smith, Mr. Benjamin Hickman
  • Project Sponsor: U.S. Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA)
  • Project Collaborators: NSA-Annapolis Public Works Department
  • Abstract: Samples of effluent discharge from the Naval Support Activity Annapolis (NSAA) Advanced Wastewater Treatment Plant (AWWTP) were collected and analyzed to characterize the biogeochemical and optical signature of the effluent plume in the receiving waters of Carr Creek at the mouth of the Severn River in Chesapeake Bay. This fingerprint was used to assess and quantify the dispersion and extent of the NSAA AWWTP effluent plume under different environmental conditions.

Poster #294.  Humanitarian Assistance through Remote Sensing for Cyclone Gati in Somalia

  • Researchers: MIDN 1/C Elizabeth Twohig
  • Advisor(s):  Prof. Peter Guth
  • Abstract: Through high resolution satellite images, humanitarian assistance can be planned for similar countries afflicted from natural disasters. This project analyzes the effects of Cyclone Gati, on Somalia in 2020. Through the use of the program Microdem, multiple factors can be assessed such as water level rise, disturbed earth, population density, etc.

Poster #295.  Remote Sensing Analysis of Kilauea

  • Researchers: MIDN 1/C Kiersten Honig
  • Advisor(s):  Prof. Peter Guth
  • Abstract: Using satellite imagery to analyze the changing features of one of the world's most active volcanoes. Kilauea is located on the Big island and has erupted nearly continuously for over 30 years. The consistent eruptions poses the question to determine how much the landscape has changed over the years and how it can be viewed through satellite imagery.

Poster #296.  A Testing Unit for the Optimization of Chlorination to Control Biofouling in Shipboard Systems

  • Researchers: MIDN 1/C Jennifer Chatwell
  • Advisor(s):  Assoc. Prof. joseph P. Smith, Mr. Benjamin Hickman
  • Project Sponsors: U.S. Naval Research Laboratory (NRL), U.S. Defense Logistics Agency (DLA)
  • Project Collaborator: U.S. Navy Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard
  • Abstract: A testing unit was employed to optimize chlorination used to reduce or control biofouling in submarine seawater cooling systems at Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard (PHNSY). Results were compared to those for U.S. Navy platforms at PHNSY. Results show that sodium thiosulfate is a safe and effective alternative dechlorination agent to sodium metabisulfite that will enable PHNSY and the U.S. Navy to increase efficiency in controlling biofouling in submarine seawater cooling systems.

Poster #297. Understanding the Impact of Artificial Islands on Heat Flux in the South China Sea

  • Researcher: MIDN 1/C Joseph Colley
  • Advisor(s):  Assoc. Prof. Andrew Muller
  • Project Sponsors: U.S. National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA)
  • Abstract: The full environmental effects of the construction of artificial islands in the South China Sea by the PRC is not yet known. This project uses satellite derived current, temperature and salinity products to calculate surface heat flux in the Spratley Islands. Heat transport is calculated for selected locations and subjected to wavelet analysis to identify any coherence with oscillations such as ENSO and MJO and to identify regime changes following the construction of artificial islands.

Poster #298. Characterization of the Summertime Soundscape of a Pristine Oyster Reef in the Tred Avon River (Maryland, USA)

  • Researcher: MIDN 1/C Benjamin Hilliard
  • Advisor(s):  Prof. Cecily Steppe 
  • Abstract: Analyzing soundscapes can provide a less intrusive way to assess habitat dynamics than traditional field sampling methods. In this study we deployed a hydrophone on a pristine oyster (Crassostrea virginica) reef in the Tred Avon River (Maryland) to characterize the summertime soundscape. The relative frequency of anthropogenic, biological, and physical sounds were compared among time of day, and weekdays vs weekends to better understand stresses that may affect reef biota.














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