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Villanova University Chemistry Professor Amanda Grannas, PhD, Part of Research Team Awarded National Science Foundation (NSF) Grant to Study Changes in Arctic Ocean Sea/Air Interactions

Effect of dramatic sea ice loss and rising surface temperatures on marine aerosols is focus of study

Principal research to be conducted during U.S.-Sweden cruise of Icebreaker Oden in Arctic Ocean

Villanova University Chemistry Professor Amanda Grannas, PhD, Part of Research Team Awarded National Science Foundation (NSF) Grant to Study Changes in Arctic Ocean Sea/Air Interactions

VILLANOVA, Pa. – Amanda M. Grannas, PhD, Professor of Chemistry in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at Villanova University, is one of three principal investigators who will lead a research team recently awarded a three-year, $1 million National Science Foundation (NSF) grant to study the interactions between the surface of the Arctic Ocean and the atmosphere above it. The project will specifically address how a dramatic loss of sea ice and increasing surface temperatures affect marine aerosol production in the region. Marine aerosols influence cloud formation and precipitation, which, in turn, affect climate. The Arctic is undergoing rapid climate change, and what is learned during the project will improve climate models and our fundamental understanding of ocean-atmosphere connections.

A prominent and internationally-renowned expert in snow chemistry, Grannas will conduct research as a co-principal investigator in collaboration with colleagues Kerri Pratt, PhD, The University of Michigan (principal investigator), and Patricia Matrai, PhD (co-principal investigator), Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences. Grannas brings to the project extensive experience in air-snow-ice interactions including the study of snow and ice photochemistry, and expertise in organic matter characterization. She has participated in a number of field campaigns in both the Canadian and Alaskan Arctic.

“The research team is thrilled to receive funding that will allow us to participate in this international scientific collaboration onboard the Oden. Our team brings a unique combination of expertise in atmospheric and aerosol chemistry, microbiology, and advanced measurement techniques,” says Grannas, who also serves as Associate Vice Provost for Research at Villanova. “This partnership lets us examine at an unprecedented level of detail how changes in the nature and extent of sea ice will impact air-sea exchange processes, and how this in turn could influence the composition of the atmosphere, which then feeds back to climate change.”

The focus of the study will be on research conducted aboard an August-September 2018 cruise of the Swedish Icebreaker Oden into the Arctic pack ice region of the Arctic Ocean. The biology and chemistry of seawater, and the physical and chemical nature of atmospheric aerosols, will be sampled during the cruise to better understand the physical properties and chemical makeup of marine aerosols produced from Arctic seawater. The project is expected to result in an unprecedented level of understanding of Arctic marine aerosol production and links to seawater microbiology, leading to improved predictions of Arctic aerosol composition and clouds for the rapidly changing Arctic system.

Integrated educational and outreach project activities have been planned by each investigator on the research team to increase awareness of Arctic change and build upon the investigators' longstanding commitment to education and public outreach.

“What I’m particularly excited about is the opportunity we have to not only advance our understanding of the fundamental science of climate change impacts, but also to train the next generation of scientists and communicate to the broader public,” adds Grannas.

She will collaborate on a project with Villanova University communication professor Hezekiah Lewis, and the team will produce a short documentary film about the changing Arctic Ocean and the work done by the researchers. The film will combine photo and video footage from the Oden cruise with pre- and post- cruise scientist interviews.

Grannas will also continue several outreach collaborations she has had with Bristol Borough High School, Bristol, Pa.; Friends Select School, Philadelphia, Pa.; and the Agnes Irwin School, Bryn Mawr, Pa.

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