Dr. Kenneth Coale

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Research Interests

  • trace elements
  • iron fertilization
  • methyl mercury
  • bomb radiocarbon


Our research involves several different aspects of trace element, carbon and nutrient cycling in aquatic systems and the use of naturally and bomb-produced radionuclides to trace marine rate processes. 1) We have identified iron as a key factor controlling phytoplankton growth over much of world's oceans. We are currently investigating the role of iron in controlling phytoplankton growth and the carbon/climate connection using mesoscale enrichment experiments (funded by NSF and DOE). 2) The production of methyl mercury and it's concentration in fish has become a major problem. We are studying the historical deposition of mercury and the processes that control the methylation and flux of mercury from the sediments into the overlying water column and tropic levels in the San Francisco Bay Delta Complex. 3) Little is known about the longevity of deep dwelling fish. Together with the Ichthyology Lab, we are using naturally-occuring and bomb-produced radionuclides to investigate the growth and longevity of rockfish, sharks and corals. 4) Time series of coastal conditions is key to understanding factors that force change in the coastal environment. We are establishing a network of linked coastal observatories in California.

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