My research interests focus on the cycling of organic matter through aquatic environments. What processes drive the production and transfer of organic matter into and its destruction or storage in aquatic systems? How does the cycling of organic matter fit into the global carbon cycle? Are anthropogenic processes influencing the character and reactivity of organic matter in different ecosystems? By studying the various processes (biotic and abiotic) that influence the cycling of organic matter within aquatic environments and how they change the characteristics and total amount of organic matter, I hope to gain insight into the place that aquatic systems hold in the global carbon cycle.
Currently, as part of the Managing Multiple Stressors in the Baltic Sea Project (a FORMAS Strong Research Environment), I am investigating the character and fate of terrestrially-derived dissolved organic matter (t-DOM) as it enters the Baltic Sea. In the sea, a variety of processes, both biotic and abiotic, can transform and even remove t-DOM from the dissolved organic pool. The character of the t-DOM is what controls its fate in the marine system, and how it participates in the global carbon cycle. I use a variety of analytical techniques to characterize the organic matter present in river mouths just before they enter the Baltic Sea. In particular, electrospray-ionization mass spectrometry allows us to create a molecular fingerprint of the organic matter as it is before it enters the Baltic, and then after it has been subjected to the various processes (photochemistry, microbial degradation, flocculation etc.) that can occur in the marine environment. With this information I hope to understand how the terrestrial environment influences the Baltic Sea. With a greater understanding of the mechanisms driving organic matter cycling in marine systems, we can gain further insight into our global environment.
My previous work focused specifically on the influence of photochemically-driven processes on the coastal carbon cycle. Coastal areas are an important part of the marine environment, with both terrestrially-derived organic matter and in-situ produced organic matter. Photochemical processes can remove carbon directly from the organic matter pool to the inorganic pool, and can also influence the availability of organic carbon to the microbial community. I have also worked on remote sensing of carbon and carbon driven processes in the
H. E. Reader and W. L. Miller. 2012. Variability of carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide apparent quantum yield spectra in three coastal estuaries of the South Atlantic Bight. Discussion Paper - Biogeosciences.
H. E. Reader and W. L. Miller. 2011. Effect of estimations of ultraviolet absorption spectra of chromophoric dissolved organic matter on the uncertainty of photochemical production calculations. J. Geophys. Res., 116, C08002, doi:10.1029/2010JC06823
Post-Doc host: Emma Kritzberg