Destination Amazon!

Lead researcher David Hollander, doctoral student Julie Richie and their colleagues load gear on the R/V Knorr

 The scientific crew of the R/V Knorr set sail from Bridgetown, Barbados at 0900 on Friday, February 19, 2010.  Our destination is the Amazon River basin where a group of researchers from the University of South Florida’s College of Marine Science are headed in search of answers to some of the great questions about climate change.   

For USF researcher David Hollander and a six of his colleagues from the College of Marine Science, the secret to some 60,000 years of the Earth’s climate history is buried in the deep mud below the Amazon River basin off the coast of Brazil. And for the next 26 days, our team will begin the process of revealing that long-buried history up – one long, thick cylinder of sediment at a time.   

Joining Hollander are students from USF’s College of Marine Science: Julie Richey, Carlie Williams, Kara Radabaugh, Enrique Montes and Laura Lorenzoni.   

Also on the cruise is Paul Baker of Duke University – you can follow his account of our journey on his blog, AmazonPaleo.  

So why would scientists need to know about what happened in the Amazon tens of thousands of years ago? Because without an accurate and complete historical record of how the planet’s climate has behaved in the past, it makes it very difficult to truly understand what’s happening today.   

Hollander – who has traveled the world extracting sediment cores which give up that long-hidden history – believes that understanding climate change in the Amazon is crucial to today’s environmental challenges.   

David Hollander has traveled the world to document the history of climate change

 The regions high levels of rainfall, diverse plant and animal life and massive stores of carbon make it so crucial to the world’s climate that some scientists refer to the region as the world’s “lung.” The World Wildlife Fund describes the Amazon’s hydrological cycle as the key driver of global climate, thus making the climate sensitive to changes in the Amazon.   

USF is leading an international crew on this three-week mission. Their work is funded by the National Science Foundation.   

And how cool is this: The R/V Knorr is the vessel that discovered the wreckage of the RMS Titanic in 1985.   

At 279-feet long, the vessel from Woods  Hole Oceanographic Institute carries 49 people on its voyage.   

The R/V Knorr during its stay at Port of Tampa

In addition to the seven from USF, there is also a Dutch scientist, 5 scientists from Duke University, a Brazilian geologist and a Brazilian Navy Commander.   

We will be collecting sediment cores from 2 km under the ocean surface off the coast of Brazil – a protected area that has not been studied before.  Our goal is to use the long coring system on the R/V Knorr, which is capable of taking 150 foot-long plugs of sediment from the ocean floor, the longest continuous coring system in the U.S. fleet.    

Our journey has just begun, so stay tuned for updates about our exciting discoveries at sea.   

To keep track of the ship, visit “Where is Knorr Now?”  from Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute.

The USF contingent on the R/V Knorr


5 Responses to “Destination Amazon!”

  1. Sue Marcus Says:

    Go Kara! Thanks for working on this important climate project.

  2. Digna Rueda Says:

    Congratulations guys : ) Good job!!!!!!!!!
    Could you also post some of your findings in the regional hydrography? like temperature, chlorophyll, eddies, Amazon rings…

  3. Dorothy Kaluzny Says:

    Good Morning! Congratulations to all of you! Hello Dr. Hollander, Laura, and Enriquez. How exciting and the research you are doing is so important. Thanks so much for sharing the photos.


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