Most climate scientists agree that human contributions are warming the earth, which is having a major effect on marine life. Researchers are working to combat these changes and inform the public at Stony Brook University’s new Marine Sciences Center in Southampton.
The $8.5 million center that opened this past summer features modern technologies that will allow researchers to examine the rapidly changing marine environment in the lab and in the field.
“We can re-create any water quality in the world with the new wet lab,” Christopher Paparo, the director of the new center, said.
The current experiments at the Southampton campus are confined to a building that was transformed from a boat repair room into a makeshift wet lab, but they will soon move to the new center next door. Several long tanks with a constant flow of water from the bay serve as the homes for scallops and clams that are being used for the experiments.
Researchers are studying how the marine life will handle the increasing problem of ocean acidification by changing pH of the water to monitor its effects.
The new 15,000 square foot facility can pump water from the bay right next to the center 75 times faster than the old facility. The new facility will be the home to a variety of experiments by the beginning of 2014, according to Paparo.
One of these researchers is Matt Harke, a doctoral student who is working to analyze gene expression in algae. His research focuses on toxic blue-green algae, which blooms in freshwater and can be harmful to the humans and aquatic life.
“There are a number of grad students in our lab which will get direct benefit and are in the process of moving their experiments from our temporary wet lab facility into the new one,” Harke said.
Paparo hopes that researchers at the new center will be able to inform the public about the major issues in marine science. He brings high school groups from across Long Island onto the water to inspire the next generation of marine scientists and to educate people about the fragile state of the environment.
“This facility is going to allow SoMAS to get to another level,” Paparo said.