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VIGRE seminar, fall 1999: Modeling Algae Blooms in the Oceans

Jay Walton, David Dobson, Jeff Morgan, Patrick Wilber
Students enrolled
Kimberly Borgelt, Vincent Lemoine, Amy Neff (undergraduate mathematics students); David Arnold, Eric Bahuaud, Guido David, Cesar Garcia, Adam Harbaugh, Quoc Le Gia, Damali Moore, Haewon Nam, Lovas Randrianarivony, Conrad Yang, David Zeigler (graduate mathematics students)
The general topic involved Biological Oceanography with the main problem, suggested by George Jackson from the Oceanography Department, being to model the spring algae bloom in certain temperate parts of the ocean. The algae bloom is a major factor in removing CO2 from the atmosphere. The students were divided into teams that then did extensive research on existing models of the spring bloom type phenomena. At the same time, the instructors gave lectures on dynamical systems theory and techniques plus biological modeling approaches that would be of use. Students and faculty had access to actual data from two long term field studies off the coast of Bermuda and Hawaii. However, the data was dirty and no substantial results were obtained. The general modeling discussions and the difficulties in dealing with dirty data was in itself a learning experience for all involved.