CC&E-led Team Awarded NASA EPSCoR Award for Carbon Export Research

A proposal led by CC&E’s own Zuo “George” Xue has been selected for funding by the NASA EPSCoR program. The Established Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR) establishes partnerships with government, higher education and industries that are designed to effect lasting improvements in a state's or region's research infrastructure.

The project will be awarded in FY18 by the NASA EPSCoR program and funded jointly by NASA and the Louisiana Board of Regents. The total amount is $1.5 Million with $1.38 Million awarded to LSU. The project, titled “Understanding and Quantifying Carbon Export to Coastal Oceans through Deltaic Systems,” focuses on critical carbon processes at the interface of human-natural ecosystems, addresses the transport of carbon through the land-sea interface and supports NASA’s major strategic goal to advance understanding of Earth.

“This carbon export driven by river discharge is considered in global carbon budgets a ‘leakage’ from the biosphere-atmosphere interaction that eventually ends buried in marine sediments and stored over long timescales,” said Xue, assistant professor, Department of Oceanography and Coastal Sciences.  “We propose to investigate two contrasting coastal sites across one of the world’s most dynamic systems—the Mississippi River Delta plain—to evaluate the carbon cycle at different stages of delta evolution.”

The Barataria Bay region, where the coastline is experiencing significant subsidence and loss, and the Wax Lake Delta region, where a fast prograding delta is expanding, are analogues of contrasting response to climate change, sea-level rise, and human activity. Understanding these two contrasting environments is critical to assess the role of delta systems in carbon export to the coastal oceans at a global scale.

The objectives of the project are to:
1.    Quantify different forms of carbon (dissolved vs. particular, organic vs. inorganic) and nitrogen
2.    Evaluate carbon transformation along salinity gradients
3.    Connect delta carbon and nutrient export to the coastal ecosystem using a coupled numerical modeling approach
4.    Improve satellite algorithms to couple remote sensing information with biogeochemical processes in land and oceanic environments
5.    Use state-of-the-art remote sensing data to evaluate coastal wetland (above ground) biomass and carbon storage.

The team plans to achieve these objectives by combining remote sensing, oceanography, carbon cycling, and biogeochemistry to understand key biogeochemical processes regulating water and carbon cycling in subtropical deltaic/coastal systems and to project water and the carbon cycle’s response to climate change.

Gregory Guzik, professor of physics, is the principal investigator for the Louisiana jurisdiction of the program. Co-investigators of the project include Associate Professors Kanchan Maiti and Victor Rivera-Monroy and Professor Eurico D’Sa, all of the Department of Oceanography & Coastal Sciences. They will partner with the Southern University team led by Zhu Hua Ning, professor, forest ecophysiology and tree anatomy.