Climate Change and Global Carbon 气候变化与全球碳循环
Keywords: climate change, carbon cycle, organic carbon, ocean
Recommendation: This project will focus on a hot topic in the field of Earth science: climate change. This project is a perfect fit for students who are interested in understanding how the Earth climate has changed in the past and knowing how human have induced climate change over the past century.
One of the primary goals of Earth sciences is to investigate the past to better predict Earth’s future. The carbon dioxide level in the atmosphere is an important parameter to consider as it is highly related to the temperature on Earth and therefore largely affects the evolution of the biosphere. Consequently, many studies focus on studying carbon cycling on Earth since atmospheric carbon dioxide is an important pool of global carbon cycle and closely interacts with many other carbon pools, such as carbon stored in rocks, sediments and soils. Since the industrial resolution in 1900s, human activities have largely elevated the natural carbon dioxide level in the atmosphere. It has been proposed that the atmospheric temperature has elevated by 0.7 degree since the industrial resolution. Rivers on Earth are an important pathway of carbon mobilization because rivers transport carbon from terrestrial sources, such as soils and plants to the ocean, where the carbon will be burial permanently. Considering that carbon in plants and soils are formed from the atmospheric carbon dioxide through photosynthesis, the river transport and the following carbon burial in the ocean serves as an effective way of drawing down the atmospheric carbon dioxide level. However, this process is complicated in the nature systems and requires many factors to be considered to better predict Earth’s future.
This primary goal of this project is to ensure students have a good understanding of Earth as a system and the general carbon cycling on earth. Many topic and processes will be covered in this project. As explained earlier, riverine transport of carbon from the land to the ocean is one topic. Another possible topic could be the erosion and oxidation of carbon from rocks. Other topics could be discussed if students have a specific preference. Students are encouraged to work on one specific process. Students will be recommended to make a presentation on the work they have done and a short review would be preferred in either English or Chinese.
Identifying Sources and Ages of Petroleum Oils Using Organic Geochemical Biomarkers
Keywords: petroleum, oil, organic geochemistry, biomarker
Recommendation: This is a project designed for students who have background in chemistry and biology. This project is recommended for any students who are interested in the industrial market and research position for their career.
Petroleum oil is formed in the sedimentary basins (e.g., paleo-lakes, coastal margins) over millions of years. Oil exploration, especially oil reservoir evaluation, requires us have a good understanding of when the oil was formed, how the oil was migrated and how good the quality of the oil is. Organic geochemistry is a popular tool of investigating properties of the oil and answering all these questions by analyzing oil samples quickly on the instrument. However, in order to answer all these questions and to provide useful consulting reports to the industry, it is necessary to have a solid background in organic geochemistry, especially oil related biomarkers. Specifically, it requires us understand how these biomarkers are formed and how they are altered depending on environmental conditions and the history of oil generation. In the meantime, many biomarkers used for oil exploration could be applied in many other fields, such as answering environmental related questions.
The goal of this project is to ensure students have a good understanding in organic geochemistry, to be familiar with some oil-related biomarkers. Meanwhile, students will be provided with data generated from real oil samples. Students are encouraged to explore the possible age, source, maturity of these oil samples based on the knowledge they will learn. Students are recommended to write a report including background of some specific biomarkers and the logic they use to diagnose these samples.