Maria Andrea Pinones
I am an oceanographer interested in understanding, describing and modeling physical and biological interactions, in particular, the influence of climate change over marine ecosystems. I am interested in understanding the role of ocean dynamics in the transport, pathways and connectivity of marine organisms at different spatial and temporal scales, using numerical modeling as a tool.
I received my PhD and M.S. degrees in Oceanography from the Center for Coastal Physical Oceanography (CCPO) - Ocean, Earth and Atmospheric Sciences Department at Old Dominion University. Before I moved to the US I received a B.S. degree in Oceanography from the Catholic University of Valparaiso in Chile.
My research aims to understand the impact of climate-induced changes in the environmental conditions of the Southern Ocean and determine the effect on the habitat of Antarctic krill (Euphausia superba). Krill is a key species in the southern ocean food web, because there are many higher trophic organisms that depend on krill. They provide a direct link for the transfer of carbon between the lower trophic level (phytoplankton) and top predators (seals, whales, sea birds). Therefore, understanding the effects of global warming in krill’s early development is crucial to understand the fate of all the organisms that depend on them. To accomplish this goal I am using a modeling approach to simulate the development and the vertical movement of krill in the water column. The model I implemented uses temperature and density from the ocean to determine projections, for the end of the 21st century, of the early life cycle of krill. These projections will provide understandings of how climate change is shaping the habitat of Antarctic krill and will provide insights of the regions around Antarctica that will receive the largest impact. The results of my research will provide a major step forward in our knowledge of physical-biological linkages, with implications for the management of commercially important marine species in the Southern Ocean.