My research interest is in environmental chemistry and biogeochemistry. I investigate the response of forest, wetland, freshwater and marine ecosystems to disturbances, such air pollution, land-disturbance, domestic and industrial waters, climate change and invasive species. My research largely involves field research, but also includes the application of environmental models. This work mostly involves environmental issues in the northeastern U.S. and is oriented toward providing information that is relevant to the effective management of natural resources. Research funding is provided by the National Science Foundation, the Environmental Protection Agency, New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, and the USDA Forest Service and the U.S. Park Service. My current research program is as follows:
The HBES is a long-term ecological research project conducted at the Hubbard Brook Experimental Forest in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. The HBEF is administered by the USDA Forest Service. The HBES involves more than 25 principal investigators from universities and research institutions. The goal of the HBES is to improve understanding of the structure, function and development of the northern forest ecosystem and its response to disturbance. Research funding is largely provided through the NSF Long-Term Ecological Research (LTER) program. Our work examines effects of changing climate and atmospheric deposition on soil and surface waters. Current process-level studies involve experiments and modeling of effects of climate change and atmospheric deposition along a watershed landscape.
Effects of Acidic Deposition
Acidic deposition is the transport of high inputs of strong acid to the Earth's surface from the atmosphere. Acidic deposition affects soil, vegetation surface waters and aquatic biota in sensitive forest regions. The Adirondack and Catskill regions of New York, the northern forest region of New England and the Central and Southern Appalachian Mountain regions have experienced significant ecological effects from acidic deposition. Inputs of acidic deposition in the U.S. peaked in the early 1970s and have decreased since. Field and modeling studies are underway to quantify the effects of acidic deposition and the response of sensitive ecosystems to decreases in these inputs.
Transport, Transformations and Bioavailability of Mercury
Atmospheric deposition is the major source of mercury to remote forest and aquatic ecosystems. Inputs of ionic mercury are reduced and re-emitted back to the atmosphere, retained in soil or transported to downstream aquatic ecosystems. In wetlands or aquatic environments ionic mercury can be converted to methyl mercury, the form which bioaccumulates in aquatic and terrestrial food chains (www.lcs.syr.edu/faculty/driscoll/biocomplexity/index.asp).
Climate change is an over-riding environmental and societal issue. The Northeast is experiencing increases in temperature and precipitation, a decrease in snowpack and changes in hydrology, long-term measurements, experiments and model projections are being made to quantify the impacts of changing climate on the structure and function of ecosystems in the Northeast.
Water Resources in Central New York
New York has an abundance of water resources such as the Finger Lakes,
Onondaga Lake and Lake Ontario. These waters are utilized as water supplies,
receiving waters and for recreation. Surface waters in Central New York
experience numerous disturbances, including domestic wastes, industrial
wastes, land-disturbance/development and the introduction of invasive
species. Field studies are conducted to understand the effects of these
disturbances and better manage water resources (www.ourlake.org).