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Stevens Wins NSF Grant for International, Multidisciplinary Partnership to Study the Amazon River

Dr. Michael Bruno leads cross-disciplinary effort to observe and model a globally critical coastal maritime system.

Hoboken, NJ, December 15, 2012 --( Dr. Michael Bruno, Dean of the Charles V. Schaefer School of Engineering and Science at Stevens Institute of Technology and an expert on ocean observation systems and coastal ocean dynamics, has been awarded a National Science Foundation (NSF) grant through the Pan-American Advanced Studies Institute Program to lead an international partnership of universities dedicated to the goal of an observing and modeling system on the Amazon River. A unique gathering of US and Latin American universities at a two-week intensive workshop in July 2013 will lay the groundwork for a sustained exchange of scientific and engineering knowledge across various regions and disciplines while providing students with extraordinary opportunities for advanced study. Partners include include Stevens Institute of Technology, Universidad Federal Fluminense (UFF), Universidad de Sao Paulo, Universidade Federal do Para, Institut de Recherche pour le Developpment (IRD) of French Guiana, University of Washington at Seattle, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Rutgers University, University of Miami, and Delft Institute of Technology.

“The Amazon River accounts for 18% of the freshwater that flows into the world’s oceans, and significant changes would have far-reaching consequences,” says Dr. Bruno. “The workshop next year is a critical first step toward a multi-year research and education collaboration that establishes sustained observation and forecast systems in the Amazon region.”

The Amazon River outflow is far-reaching in a literal and figurative sense. The average discharge from the river is greater than that of the next seven largest rivers in the world combined. The released water stretches out into the ocean, covering an area more than twice the size of the state of Texas for several months each year, spreading nutrients far beyond the continental shelf and driving carbon cycling in the tropical ocean.

Because there is the potential for change in a river that plays such a vital role in global ocean dynamics, researchers have outlined the need for methods of gathering baseline information and the establishment of capabilities to monitor changes in the years ahead. The relatively undisturbed state of the Amazon region presents a remarkable opportunity for modeling and predicting changes that could reverberate around the world.

Much consideration on the development of a monitoring system for the Amazon River has been driven by the innovative work at Stevens with the New York and New Jersey coastline. In 1997, under Dr. Bruno’s leadership, the Davidson Laboratory at Stevens began deploying internet-connected measurement devices in the New York Harbor. Under the guidance of Dr. Bruno and Dr. Alan Blumberg, Davidson Laboratory developed the New York Harbor Observing and Prediction System (NYHOPS) and the Stevens Storm Surge Warning System (SSWS). Stevens, which overlooks the Hudson River near New York Harbor, has thus become an invaluable resource for the study, protection, and improvement of the region's busy waterways, with New York, New Jersey, and the Federal Government using tools developed at Stevens for short-term storm observation and prediction as well as longer term studies.

The long-term goal of Dr. Bruno’s current project is to assist the Brazilian scientific community in developing similar capabilities in the Amazon region, while educating a new generation of students on the dynamics and ecology of an important ecosystem. The region presents interesting challenges, such as limited access to power and long term maintenance. However, according to Dr. Bruno, “We, as an engineering community, know how to do this. It is a matter of getting started.”

Dr. Bruno's research and teaching interests include ocean observation systems, maritime security, and coastal ocean dynamics. Prior to assuming the duties of Dean, Dr. Bruno was the Director of the Center for Maritime Systems and Davidson Laboratory at Stevens from 1989 to 2007. Dr. Bruno has capitalized on the unique geographic location of Stevens Institute of Technology and continually attracted national and international attention, inter-academic collaboration, and superb faculty to the school through his ability to implement innovative real-world solutions as well as his enthusiasm for education and public awareness.

About the Center for Maritime Systems
The Center for Maritime Systems at Stevens Institute of Technology works to preserve and secure U.S. maritime resources and assets through collaborative knowledge development, innovation and invention, and education and training. Composed of four integrated laboratory activities and three support groups, this Center has become the world’s leader in delivering new knowledge, advanced technology, and education in support of the maritime community. It uniquely integrates the fields of naval architecture, coastal and ocean engineering, physical oceanography, marine hydrodynamics and maritime security to create a trans-disciplinary enterprise that can address both the highly-specialized issues confronting each discipline, as well as the more complex, integrated issues facing natural and man-made maritime systems.

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Stevens Institute of Technology
Christine del Rosario

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