OU professors win award to study the Arctic

Oakland University is going to the Arctic.

Two members of the OU chemistry faculty, Professor Xiangqun Zeng and Assistant Professor Ziming Yang, have received a two-year $294,536 award from the National Science Foundation to develop a sensor that will help measure changes undergoing in the Arctic tundra.

Drs. Zeng and Yang will use the money to develop a low-cost and low-power multimodal sensor that will measure carbon dioxide and methane emitting from the Arctic soil, helping researchers better understand their environmental and economical impacts on the planet.

"It is vital to measure current levels of these gas emissions from the tundra accurately, as a baseline for future measurements and for more accurate modeling of likely effects from the increased warming of Arctic soil organic matter," says Dr. Zeng.

As temperatures increase, soil organic matter in the Arctic tundra is experiencing thawing and accelerated microbial degradation. This produces active organic carbon and greenhouse gasses like carbon dioxide and methane.

Drs. Zeng and Yang’s sensors are important because the tundra soil temperature is still below freezing for eight months or more per year, making collecting such data difficult. Their sensors will be small, inexpensive, and require little power to operate, Dr. Zeng says. They will also allow for near-real-time reporting year-round.

"That new knowledge will help facilitate the development of new ways of managing soils and natural resources in cold environments," says Dr. Zeng.

Dr. Zeng, the principal investigator for the project, is a professor of analytical chemistry at OU. Dr. Yang, a co-principal investigator, is an assistant professor of environmental chemistry at OU. They are joined by Wayne State University’s Dr. Yong Xu, a professor of electrical and computer engineering and co-principal investigator on the project.

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Read more articles by MJ Galbraith.

MJ Galbraith is a writer and musician living in Detroit. Follow him on Twitter @mikegalbraith.
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