Amazon Research Objectives:
The River Systems Research Group has a long history of working on the biogeochemistry of the Amazon.
Following a pilot "cruise" of the UNOLS vessel Alpha Helix,
in 1977, the NSF, NASA, and Brazilian- supported project CAMREX (Carbon
in the AMazon River Experiment) began, in 1982. Work continued through NSF, FAPESP, and the NASA ABLE (mid 90's), EOS, and LBA (2000s) programs. As part of the ROCA (River-Ocean Continuum
of the Amazon) project, we began to work on the lower Amazon, from Obidos (the last
routine measuring station, 900 km inland), to the ocean). THe ROCA proejct led to the development of the current TROCAS progam.
overall perspective in CAMREX has been that the Amazon is a test case for
developing extendable models of how hydrologic and biogeochemical cycles are
coupled at regional to continental scales in the humid tropics. Our studies
serve the dual purposes of gaining a broad mechanistic understanding and of
establishing data baselines needed to assess anthropogenic perturbations to
these globally critical and ecologically complex systems. As documented in over
150 publications, the CAMREX dataset represents a time series unique in its
length and detail for very large river systems. The focus over the last several
years has been to examine the sequence of processes involved in the dynamics of
carbon metabolism, resulting in high outgassing. Richey et al. (2002) showed
that the outgassing from the aquatic systems of the Amazon are roughly
equivalent to the carbon sequestered on land, and over 10x the carbon exported
to the sea. Papers have addressed modeling and system integration (Richey et
al. 2004; Richey 2004, 2005), biogeochemistry within geospatial frameworks
(Ballester et al. 2003, 2005; Bernardes et al. 2004; Mayorga et al. 2005a,
Logsdon et al. 2005; Krusche et al. 2005), hydrologic models (Victoria et al.
2007), gas exchange (Rasera et al. 2008; Alin et al.2011), basin scale tracers
of sorption and metabolic properties (Martinelli et al. 2003; Mayorga et al.
2005b; Aufdenkampe et al. 2007; Remington et al. 2007; Souza et al. 2008; Ellis
et al. in press), and chemical properties (Dickens et al. 2007, Tumang et al.
2007). Richey et al. (2010, 2011) summarized the current understanding of
carbon in Amazon rivers.
A signature of CAMREX is that is has been a
joint, collaborative effort of the UW and Brazilian institutions, in particular
CENA (Centro de Energia Nuclear na Agricultura, Piracicaba SP) and INPA
(Instituto Nacional de Pesquisas da Amazonia, Manaus). As part of LBA, we established the
education and sampling network the Rede
Beija Rio (RBR), supported
subsequently by the Brazilian government
(FAPESP, CNPq). The RBR serves the dual purpose of enabling higher
frequency (and less expensive) sampling than possible by sending teams from São
Paulo or Seattle, and especially serves as our primary vehicle for training and
capacity building. The sites are organized
as transects, from the Amazon mainstem and major tributary mouths (the initial
CAMREX scheme), to primary tributaries, then sub-tributaries, and ultimately
streams The RBR is made up of nodes distributed across the
Amazon, where each node
is occupied by a researcher or a team of researchers from that site-typically a
professor, graduate and/or undergraduate students from local institutions,
working from a coordinated sampling plan. Over 40 Brazilian students have participated
in the project since its beginning, earning Masters and PhDs. Most of these
students have been from the Amazon, a region markedly under-represented in
technical training in the country.