Over the past half century, science has clearly shown that the Earth’s climate system underwent a remarkable shift from being controlled by natural cycles to being significantly impacted by recent human activity. While combustion of carbon rich fossil fuels is the primary driver to contemporary climate change, there are natural reservoirs of carbon that may become vulnerable in a warmer world, thereby enhancing warming today. Additionally, fossil fuels usage impacts the environment beyond the greenhouse gasses through spilled oil and production of soot particles.
Research in the Z-lab focuses on understanding carbon cycling in the natural and perturbed environment to further our understanding of potential climate change feedbacks. Focusing on studying what carbon persists in the environment and what carbon is recycled, we study:
This research exploits the concept that molecules carry an isotopic tag that tells time (radiocarbon, 14C) and by measuring the isotopic content of a specific compound we can track the flow of carbon in a system. Therefore the Z-lab trains scientists of the future in how to make compound specific measurements.
Currently, research in the Z-lab focuses on:
And in the future we may revisit:
Want to learn more about Dr. Z?
Our home is in the School of the Earth, Ocean and Environment and the Marine Science Program at The University of South Carolina.
We train scientists who are comfortable getting dirty the field, keeping it clean in the lab and following their passion.
In the Z-lab we believe that teaching makes us better communicators and therefore researchers.