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Environmental, Earth & Atmospheric Research

Kate Swanger's current research themes focus on the response of Antarctic ice sheets to late Cenozoic climate change, quantifying earth surface processes with rigorous field experiments and numerical modeling, and investigating the role of buried glacier ice in permafrost processes and their potential as climate archives.

Kate Swanger, Ph.D.

My current research themes focus on the response of Antarctic ice sheets to late Cenozoic climate change, quantifying earth surface processes with rigorous field experiments and numerical modeling, and investigating the role of buried glacier ice in permafrost processes and their potential as climate archives.

Assistant Professor Christopher Skinner and a student in a research office smiling. Skinner is interested in the intersection of climate change and climate impacts. In my research I use process-based numerical models (i.e. climate models) to study how perturbations to the earth system influence weather and climate events. The insights from this work can be used to better understand the role of climate and weather in shaping societies and ecosystems in the past, and to prepare for climate-related impacts in the future.

Chris Skinner, Ph.D.

I am interested in the intersection of climate change and climate impacts. In my research I use process-based numerical models (i.e. climate models) to study how perturbations to the earth system influence weather and climate events. The insights from this work can be used to better understand the role of climate and weather in shaping societies and ecosystems in the past, and to prepare for climate-related impacts in the future.

Juliette Rooney-Varga is an Associate Professor in the Environmental, Earth and Atmospheric Sciences Department and the Director of the Climate Change Initiative at UMass Lowell

Juliette Rooney-Varga, Ph.D.

My current work focuses on developing and researching the learning impact of interactive simulations that enable people to explore, for themselves, the expected climate and energy impacts of decisions and policies. These simulations bring current climate change and energy science to students, citizens, and policymakers at all levels and have been shown to motivate science-informed action.

A piece of equipment in a snowy landscape with a person to its right. Professor Daniel Obrist Chair of the Department of Environmental, Earth and Atmospheric Sciences research focuses on environmental chemistry and pollution, with a special emphasis on contaminants such as mercury, other trace metals, and persistent organic pollutants (e.g., polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons). I am also interested in greenhouse gas (CO2 and CH4) dynamics and how human perturbations and climate change affect their terrestrial sinks and sources. My research is based on experimental field research and laboratory studies and combines methods from analytical chemistry, atmospheric chemistry and soil biogeochemistry, ecosystem ecology, and hydrology.

Daniel Obrist, Ph.D.

My research focuses on environmental chemistry and pollution, with a special emphasis on contaminants such as mercury, other trace metals, and persistent organic pollutants (e.g., polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons). I am also interested in greenhouse gas (CO2 and CH4) dynamics and how human perturbations and climate change affect their terrestrial sinks and sources. My research is based on experimental field research and laboratory studies and combines methods from analytical chemistry, atmospheric chemistry and soil biogeochemistry, ecosystem ecology, and hydrology.

Assistant Professor James Heiss poses next to equipment at a beach. Heiss' research area is coastal groundwater dynamics and nutrient cycling in nearshore aquifers. I am interested in the influence of land-sea processes (tides, sea level rise, terrestrial recharge) on the exchange of water and chemicals between groundwater and surface water in estuarine, beach, bay, marsh, and marine environments. This work has direct implications for groundwater resources and water quality of coastal systems.

James Heiss, Ph.D

My research area is coastal groundwater dynamics and nutrient cycling in nearshore aquifers.

I am interested in the influence of land-sea processes (tides, sea level rise, terrestrial recharge) on the exchange of water and chemicals between groundwater and surface water in estuarine, beach, bay, marsh, and marine environments.

This work has direct implications for groundwater resources and water quality of coastal systems.

Dr. Richard Gaschnig standing on a large rock. Gaschnig is a geochemist interested in how the Earth's continents form and evolve.  I study igneous, sedimentary, and metamorphic rocks and use a variety of geochemical tools, such as major and trace element abundances, U-Th-Pb geochronology, radiogenic isotope tracers (Sr, Nd, Pb, Hf), and non-traditional stable isotope systems (Mo, Fe, U, Tl).

Richard Gaschnig, Ph.D.

I am a geochemist interested in how the Earth's continents form and evolve.

I study igneous, sedimentary, and metamorphic rocks and use a variety of geochemical tools, such as major and trace element abundances, U-Th-Pb geochronology, radiogenic isotope tracers (Sr, Nd, Pb, Hf), and non-traditional stable isotope systems (Mo, Fe, U, Tl).

Professor Nelson Eby poses next to the Trinity Site monument. Eby's general area of research is geochemistry. Recent projects - characterizing the glass (Trintite) produced during the first atomic bomb test; petrology and geochemistry of Jurassic - Cretaceous magmatism in the northeastern US and Canada; petrology and geochemistry of the Chilwa Alkaline Province, Malawi; origin of the Franklin and Sterling Hill ore deposits; F and Cl in apatite, amphibole, and biotite; using tree-ring cores to map environmental change; and source and distribution of atmospheric pollutants.

Nelson Eby, Ph.D.

My general area of research is geochemistry.

Recent projects - characterizing the glass (Trintite) produced during the first atomic bomb test; petrology and geochemistry of Jurassic - Cretaceous magmatism in the northeastern US and Canada; petrology and geochemistry of the Chilwa Alkaline Province, Malawi; origin of the Franklin and Sterling Hill ore deposits; F and Cl in apatite, amphibole, and biotite; using tree-ring cores to map environmental change; and source and distribution of atmospheric pollutants.

Frank-Colby-opt

Frank Colby, Ph.D.

I am interested in predicting and analyzing Nor'easters, snow squalls, tropical storms and hurricanes. My tools include ensemble modeling, large eddy simulations of the atmospheric boundary layer and forecast modeling.

Matthew Barlow is a Professor in the Environmental, Earth and Atmospheric Sciences Department at UMass Lowell.

Mathew Barlow, Ph.D.

My research focuses on the influence of large-scale climate variability and change on local conditions of importance to society. Particular climate foci include: climate change, droughts, floods, and heat waves. Areas of interest include the Northeast US, North America, Southwest Asia, Middle East, and Africa.

Recent Faculty Publications

Identification of large-scale meteorological patterns associated with extreme precipitation in the US Northeast. Agel, L., Barlow, M., Feldstein, S. B., & Gutowski, W. J., 2018: Clim. Dyn., 50 (5-6), 1819-1839.

More-persistent weak stratospheric polar vortex states linked to cold extremes. Kretschmer, M., D. Coumou, L. Agel, M. Barlow, E. Tziperman, J. Cohen, 2018: Bull. Amer. Meteor. Soc., 99, 49-60.

Cold Season Southwest Asia Precipitation Sensitivity to El Niño–Southern OscillationEvents. Hoell, A., M. Barlow, T. Xu, and T. Zhang, 2018. J. Climate, 31, 4463-4482.

Middle East and Southwest Asia Daily Precipitation Characteristics Associated with the Madden–Julian Oscillation during Boreal Winter. Hoell, A., F. Cannon, and M. Barlow, 2018. J. Climate, 31, 8843-8860.

Dynamical analysis of extreme precipitation in the US northeast based on large-scale meteorological patterns. Agel, L., M. Barlow, F. Colby, H. Binder, J. L. Catto, A. Hoell, and J. Cohen, 2019. Clim. Dyn., https://doi.org/10.1007/s00382-018-4223-2

Petrology, geochemistry and geodynamic setting of Eocene-Oligocene alkaline intrusions from the Alborz-Azerbaijan magmatic belt, NW Iran. Ashrafi, N., Jahangiri, A., Hasebe, N., Eby,N. (2018) Chemie der Erde 78, 432-461.

Crustal residence of molybdenum. Greaney, A.T., Rudnick, R.L., Gaschnig, R.M., Whalen, J., Luais, B., and Clemens, J.D. (2018): Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta, v. 238, p. 36-54.

Temporal evolution of 182W in the upper continental crust. Mundl, A., Walker, R.J., Reimink, J.R., Rudnick, R.L., Gaschnig, R.M. (2018): Chemical Geology, v. 494, p. 144-152.

Variability in benthic exchange rate, depth, and residence time beneath a shallow coastal estuary Russoniello, C.J., J.W. Heiss, and H.A. Michael (2018), , Journal of Geophysical Research - Oceans, doi.org/10.1002/2017JC013568    

Mercury re-emission from industrially contaminated soils: the combined role of chemical, microbial, and meteorological factors.  Osterwalder S, Shetaya W, Frossard A, Huang J-H, Alewell C, Frey B, Agnan Y, Biester H, Kretzschmar R, Obrist D. Environmental Pollution, in press.

Mercury in tundra vegetation of Alaska: Spatial and temporal dynamics and stable isotope patterns. Olson CL, Jiskra M, Sonke JE, Obrist D.  The Science of the Total Environment, 660,  1502-1512, 2019.

A Critical Time for Mercury Science to Inform Global Policy.  Chen C, Driscoll C, Eagles-Smith CA, Eckley CA, Gay DA, Hsu-Kim H, Keane S, Kirk J, Mason R, Obrist D, Selin H, Selin N, Thompson MR. Environmental Science and Technology, 52, 9556-9561, 2018.

Mercury in Arctic tundra soils of northern Alaska: concentrations, pools, origins, and spatial patterns. Olson C, Jiskra M, Biester H, Chow J, Obrist D. Global Biogeochemical Cycles, 32, 7, 1058-107, 2018.

A vegetation control on seasonal variations in global atmospheric mercury. Jiskra M, Sonke JE, Obrist D, Bieser J, Ebinghaus R, Myhre CL, Pfaffhuber, KA, Wängberg I, Kyllönen K, Worthy D, Martin LG, Labuschagne C, Mkololo T, Ramonet M, Magand O, Dommergue A.  Nature Geoscience, 11, 244-250, 2018.

Mercury in arctic tundra snowpack: temporal and spatial concentration patterns and trace–gas exchanges.  Agnan Y, Douglas TA, Helmig D, Hueber J, Obrist D. The Cyosphere, 12, 1939-1956, 2018.

A review of global environmental mercury processes in response to human and natural perturbations: changes of emissions, climate and land use.Obrist D, Kirk J, Zhang L, Sunderland E, Jiskra M, Selin NE. Ambio, 47. 16-14, 2018.

Reply to comment on 'Does replacing coal with wood lower CO2 emissions? Sterman, J. D., Siegel, L., Rooney-Varga, J.N.. Dynamic lifecycle analysis of wood bioenergy.' Environ. Res. Lett. 13(12): 128003.

Combining role-play with interactive simulation to motivate informed climate action: Evidence from the World Climate simulation.Rooney-Varga J. N., J.D. Sterman, E. Fracassi, F. Kapmeier, V. Kurker, E. Johnston, A. P. Jones, K. Rath.  PLOS ONE. 2018;13(8):e0202877.

Does replacing coal with wood lower CO2 emissions? Dynamic lifecycle analysis of wood bioenergy.  Sterman, J. D., Siegel, L., Rooney-Varga, J.N.. Environ. Res. Lett. 13(1): 015007. Featured Article; In the top 5% of all research outputs scored by Altmetric.

Modulation of mid-Holocene African rainfall by dust aerosol direct and indirect effects. Thompson AJ, Skinner CB, Poulsen CJ, Zhu J (2019) Geophysical Research Lettershttps://doi.org/10.1029/2018GL081225.

Amplification of heat extremes by plant CO2 physiological forcing.Skinner CB, Poulsen CJ, Mankin JS (2018)  NatureCommunications, 9, doi:10.1038/s41467-018-03472-w.

Rock glaciers in Pearse Valley, Antarctic record outlet and alpine glacier advance from MIS 5 through the Holocene.Swanger, K.M.,Babcock, E.L., Winsor, K., Valletta, R.D., 2019. Geomorphology, accepted with minor revisions.

Quaternary development of a large rock glacier and its potential geochemical relationship with Don Juan Pond, McMurdo Dry Valleys, Antarctica. Winsor, K., Babcock, E.L., Swanger, K.M., Dickson, J.L., Valletta, R.D., Schmidt,D., 2017. Antarctic Science. Submitted.

The first study of coupled 3He/36Cl from pyroxenes: investigating the geomorphic causes of exposure age scatter in cold-based glacier deposits, Antarctica.Swanger, K.M., Winckler, G., Lamp, J.L. Schaefer, J.M., Schimmelpfennig, I., Quaternary Science. In revision.