Drenkard Elizabeth J.

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Elizabeth J.

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  • Article
    Comment on “Equatorial Pacific coral geochemical records show recent weakening of the Walker circulation” by J. Carilli et al.
    (John Wiley & Sons, 2015-05-18) Karnauskas, Kristopher B. ; Cohen, Anne L. ; Drenkard, Elizabeth J.
    This article is a comment on Carilli et al. [2014] doi:10.1002/2014PA002683
  • Article
    Strengthening of the Pacific Equatorial Undercurrent in the SODA reanalysis : mechanisms, ocean dynamics, and implications
    (American Meteorological Society, 2014-03-15) Drenkard, Elizabeth J. ; Karnauskas, Kristopher B.
    Several recent studies utilizing global climate models predict that the Pacific Equatorial Undercurrent (EUC) will strengthen over the twenty-first century. Here, historical changes in the tropical Pacific are investigated using the Simple Ocean Data Assimilation (SODA) reanalysis toward understanding the dynamics and mechanisms that may dictate such a change. Although SODA does not assimilate velocity observations, the seasonal-to-interannual variability of the EUC estimated by SODA corresponds well with moored observations over a ~20-yr common period. Long-term trends in SODA indicate that the EUC core velocity has increased by 16% century−1 and as much as 47% century−1 at fixed locations since the mid-1800s. Diagnosis of the zonal momentum budget in the equatorial Pacific reveals two distinct seasonal mechanisms that explain the EUC strengthening. The first is characterized by strengthening of the western Pacific trade winds and hence oceanic zonal pressure gradient during boreal spring. The second entails weakening of eastern Pacific trade winds during boreal summer, which weakens the surface current and reduces EUC deceleration through vertical friction. EUC strengthening has important ecological implications as upwelling affects the thermal and biogeochemical environment. Furthermore, given the potential large-scale influence of EUC strength and depth on the heat budget in the eastern Pacific, the seasonal strengthening of the EUC may help reconcile paradoxical observations of Walker circulation slowdown and zonal SST gradient strengthening. Such a process would represent a new dynamical “thermostat” on CO2-forced warming of the tropical Pacific Ocean, emphasizing the importance of ocean dynamics and seasonality in understanding climate change projections.
  • Preprint
    Calcification by juvenile corals under heterotrophy and elevated CO2
    ( 2013-12) Drenkard, Elizabeth J. ; Cohen, Anne L. ; McCorkle, Daniel C. ; de Putron, Samantha J. ; Starczak, Victoria R. ; Zicht, A. E.
    Ocean acidification (OA) threatens the existence of coral reefs by slowing the rate of calcium carbonate (CaCO3) production of framework-building corals thus reducing the amount of CaCO3 the reef can produce to counteract natural dissolution. Some evidence exists to suggest that elevated levels of dissolved inorganic nutrients can reduce the impact of OA on coral calcification. Here, we investigated the potential for enhanced energetic status of juvenile corals, achieved via heterotrophic feeding, to modulate the negative impact of OA on calcification. Larvae of the common Atlantic golf ball coral, Favia fragum, were collected and reared for 3 weeks under ambient (421 μatm) or significantly elevated (1,311 μatm) CO2 conditions. The metamorphosed, zooxanthellate spat were either fed brine shrimp (i.e., received nutrition from photosynthesis plus heterotrophy) or not fed (i.e., primarily autotrophic). Regardless of CO2 condition, the skeletons of fed corals exhibited accelerated development of septal cycles and were larger than those of unfed corals. At each CO2 level, fed corals accreted more CaCO3 than unfed corals, and fed corals reared under 1,311 μatm CO2 accreted as much CaCO3 as unfed corals reared under ambient CO2. However, feeding did not alter the sensitivity of calcification to increased CO2; Δcalcification/ΔΩ was comparable for fed and unfed corals. Our results suggest that calcification rates of nutritionally replete juvenile corals will decline as OA intensifies over the course of this century. Critically, however, such corals could maintain higher rates of skeletal growth and CaCO3 production under OA than those in nutritionally limited environments.
  • Article
    Repeat bleaching of a central Pacific coral reef over the past six decades (1960–2016)
    (Nature Publishing Group, 2018-11-08) Barkley, Hannah C. ; Cohen, Anne L. ; Mollica, Nathaniel R. ; Brainard, Russell E. ; Rivera, Hanny E. ; DeCarlo, Thomas M. ; Lohmann, George P. ; Drenkard, Elizabeth J. ; Alpert, Alice ; Young, Charles W. ; Vargas-Ángel, Bernardo ; Lino, Kevin C. ; Oliver, Thomas A. ; Pietro, Kathryn R. ; Luu, Victoria
    The oceans are warming and coral reefs are bleaching with increased frequency and severity, fueling concerns for their survival through this century. Yet in the central equatorial Pacific, some of the world’s most productive reefs regularly experience extreme heat associated with El Niño. Here we use skeletal signatures preserved in long-lived corals on Jarvis Island to evaluate the coral community response to multiple successive heatwaves since 1960. By tracking skeletal stress band formation through the 2015-16 El Nino, which killed 95% of Jarvis corals, we validate their utility as proxies of bleaching severity and show that 2015-16 was not the first catastrophic bleaching event on Jarvis. Since 1960, eight severe (>30% bleaching) and two moderate (<30% bleaching) events occurred, each coinciding with El Niño. While the frequency and severity of bleaching on Jarvis did not increase over this time period, 2015–16 was unprecedented in magnitude. The trajectory of recovery of this historically resilient ecosystem will provide critical insights into the potential for coral reef resilience in a warming world.
  • Thesis
    Exploring the climate change refugia potential of equatorial Pacific coral reefs
    (Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, 2015-02) Drenkard, Elizabeth J.
    Global climate models project a 21st century strengthening of the Pacific Equatorial Undercurrent (EUC). The consequent increase in topographic upwelling of cool waters onto equatorial coral reef islands would mitigate warming locally and modulate the intensity of coral bleaching. However, EUC water is potentially more acidic and richer in dissolved inorganic nutrients (DIN), both widely considered detrimental to coral reef health. My analysis of the Simple Ocean Data Assimilation product indicates that the EUC has indeed strengthened over the past 130 years. This result provides an historical baseline and dynamical reference for future intensification. Additionally, I reared corals in laboratory experiments, co-manipulating food, light and CO2 (acidity) to test the role of nutrition in coral response to elevate CO2 conditions: Heterotrophy yields larger corals but CO2 sensitivity is independent of feeding. Conversely, factors that enhance zooxanthellate photosynthesis (light and DIN) reduce CO2 sensitivity. Corals under higher light also store more lipid but these reserves are not utilized to maintain calcification under elevated CO2. My results suggest that while mitigation of CO2 effects on calcification is not linked to energetic reserve, EUC fueled increases in DIN and productivity could reduce effects of elevated CO2 on coral calcification.