Modelling the atmospheric influence of coral reef-derived dimethyl sulfide

Modelling the atmospheric influence of coral reef-derived dimethyl sulfide

Thursday, 30 January 2020 - 11:00am to 12:00pm

Dimethyl sulfide (DMS) is a marine biogenic gas with an important role in aerosol and cloud formation, and climate. Recent observational literature shows that coral reefs produce DMS and hypothesize that this unaccounted-for source of DMS interacts with the atmosphere.

In this PhD completion seminar, Sonya Fiddes will explain how she utilised two atmospheric models for the first time to explore the importance of coral reef DMS across temporal and geographical scales. Her research also considers how the loss of coral reefs due to anthropogenic climate change may impact this system.

The seminar will detail the complex, and in some cases unexpected, atmospheric responses to coral reef DMS.

Event Location: 
Australian-German College of Climate and Energy
Level 1, 187 Grattan Street
3010 Parkville , VIC

Sonya completed a Masters of Atmospheric Science at the University of Melbourne, where she investigated changes in alpine Australia’s winter rain and snowfall events. She has worked for both the University of Melbourne and the Australian Bureau of Meteorology as a research assistant focusing respectively on synoptic weather patterns for extreme weather events and air pollution and using statistical methods to project Victorian streamflows to the end of the century using downscaled CMIP5 global climate models. 

PhD Project: Local and remote climate impacts of dimethyl sulfide produced by the Great Barrier Reef

Marine algae are the largest natural source of dimethyl sulfide (DMS) globally. Once released in to the atmosphere, DMS oxidises to form sulfate aerosols, which can then aid the formation of cloud condensation nuclei and subsequently affect cloud formation and surface temperatures. The role of marine algae, and the production of DMS, in climate regulation has long been debated, with no conclusive argument for or against. Algae that live in symbiosis with coral reefs are thought to be some of the largest producers of DMS and are spatially stationary, making the Great Barrier Reef the ideal natural laboratory to study this process. This project aims to use a combination of field work and modelling to help understand this complex feedback process and determine if there will be a climatic impact due to the degradation of the Great Barrier Reef. 

Supervisors: Dr. Robyn Schofield and A/Prof. Todd Lane 

Start date: 21st March 2016


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