August 15, 2005
Today, I met with Rob Pockalny in his office at URI. Rob is also a researcher, and they were working on a numerical model of Narragansett Bay. The model can then be used to predict changes to the bathymetry of the Bay under certain conditions. Bathymetry became my new word for the day. It means the shape of the sea floor. There are many factors that can affect the circulation of water in the Bay. Wind; for example can effect mixing up to 10 meters deep.
Rob is aware of Dave's research and told me that stratification of the water column is related to anoxia and hypoxia in the Bay. It can be caused by either fresh water run-off or thermal stratification.
Rob is a Portville, NY, native and since I live about 25 miles from there we also spent some time talking about "home." We discussed some possible field trip ideas for my class, and some possible lesson ideas. He is also involved with training teachers to use the science kits developed by the University for Rhode Island's schools. We looked at the scope and sequence of the kits and compared them with what we do in New York.
He then introduced me to Nicole LaSorta and Dr. Deanna (?). (I lost her name in my notes!) Deanna showed me her model and how she uses it to analyze data about intermittent hypoxic events from 2001-2002. These events seem to occur most frequently during Neap Tides. The severity and duration is greatest in the Providence River. Since hypoxic events do not occur with every Neap Tide, there must be other factors at work. Some variables can be winds, tides, solar, or the river itself. Different factors can be put into the model to try to figure it all out. Somehow, though it always seems that the more we know, the more there is to know, and the research just keeps on growing. Data is collected in the Bay at various monitoring buoys. They collect data about salinity, pH, dissolved oxygen, and chlorophyll. The instruments are 1/2 meter from the surface and an inch from the bottom. By the time I had thanked Rob for spending so much valuable time with me, my head was reeling from all I had seen.