Using NASA DICCE GIOVANNI to Prepare Pre-service STEM Teachers to Teach Climate Science

Monday, 15 December 2014: 10:50 AM
Waneene Coffey Dorsey, Grambling State University, Grambling, LA, United States
The Deep Horizon oil spill incident on April 20, 2010 potentially compromised the Gulf Coast’s ecosystem and human health through the marine food chain. One of the mitigation strategies to impede oil migration to the Gulf Coast’s shorelines was to burn off crude oil, which resulted in the production of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon (PAH) emissions such as, benzo[a]anthracene, benzo[a]pyrene, and benzo[b]fluoranthene compounds. Noticeable high deaths of marine animals and a decline in phytoplankton productivity have been linked to PAH- and dispersant-toxicity. Phytoplankton plays a pivotal role in natural food chains, production of O2, and capture of CO2.   Grambling State University’s Water Quality Management students used the University of New Hampshire’s Student Climate Data website and the NASA DICCE data portal in learning activities to understand impacts of spill mitigation on chlorophyll a concentrations. Students used NASA Giovanni data and spectral satellite images to examine phytoplankton productivity around coastal shorelines, including Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and the Florida pan-handle. Area-averaged time series from Giovanni indicated that June was the peak month for chlorophyll a from 2007 to 2012. Spectral images showed that chlorophyll a concentrations between 2.5-30mg/m3 were widely distributed around the shorelines of Louisiana, Mississippi, and the Florida pan-handle from June 2007 to June 2008. Students then examined chlorophyll a concentrations in April 2010 and May 2010. Data obtained from spectral images by students showed phytoplankton blooms with a 2.5mg/m3 concentration dramatically decreased from that of April 2010. Next students examined phytoplankton productivity from 0.08-30mg/m3 in the month of June for 2010, 2011, and 2012. In June 2010, a pattern of movement in phytoplankton blooms was observed toward southwest Louisiana and Texas shorelines. Comparative data from June 2011 and June 2012 demonstrated a low concentration of chlorophyll a of 10mg/m3 around the shorelines of Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and the Florida pan-handle, indicating a decline in phytoplankton productivity. Students believed that phytoplankton movement and low productivity was caused by exposure to PAH- and dispersant-toxicity.