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Rachel Sussman

Graduate Student | Department of Marine, Earth, and Atmospheric Sciences | NC State University

2019-20 Global Change Fellow

Statement of Purpose:

My primary research interest is investigating the impact of anthropogenic climate change on biogeochemical cycling in coastal ecosystems, specifically how changing terrestrial biogeochemical processes impact coastal marine biogeochemistry. Although dominant climate forcings vary with latitude, climate-related phenomena, such as shifting redox paradigms, will have similar impacts on the production, storage, mobilization and availability of coastal nutrients globally. By comparing the compositions of coastal terrestrial runoff to coastal marine chemistry and obtaining complementary time-series data sets that capture biogeochemical flux responses to climate forcings at different latitudes, we will be better able to predict and plan for the consequences of climate change on local ecosystems.

Research Statement:

A polar bear stranded on a melting iceberg has long been the poster child of a rapidly warming planet, but the effects of Arctic climate change range far beyond a single charismatic species. Permafrost underlies much of Alaska and other Arctic and sub-Arctic soil, storing twice as much carbon as is currently in the atmosphere and providing structural integrity to the landscapes. As the climate changes and permafrost thaws, organic matter is exposed and made bio-available. I am conducting research on the transportation of permafrost nutrients by rivers into coastal waters. The influx of these nutrients have important but largely unquantified effects on coastal primary production and the net flux of carbon from permafrost thaw. This research aligns with DOI Priority 1: Creating a conservation stewardship legacy second only to Teddy Roosevelt, and SE CASC Science Priority 2.

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