Paul Lerner Paul Lerner

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WHOI Mailing Address:
Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution
266 Woods Hole Rd.
MS# 25
Woods Hole, MA 02543-1050


B.A. Marine Science, University of California Berkeley (2012)

Research Interests

            Trace metals play a wide variety important roles in the ocean, including as potentially limiting nutrients and as modern and paleoceanographic proxies of biological productivity and ocean circulation. The fate of trace metals in the ocean is largely determined by the interaction of these metals and sinking particles. Hence to understand and predict the distribution of trace metals in the ocean requires extensive knowledge of these metal-particle interactions. These interactions have been the key focus of my graduate research. My research into trace-metal/particle dynamics has taken a two-pronged approach:


1. The application of inverse methods to combine models of trace metal/particle dynamics with observations in order to estimate rates of metal and particle processes. These processes include trace metal adsorption, trace metal desorption, particle degradation and particle sinking. Estimates of rate parameters associated with these processes are further constrained by errors in the observations, by our prior knowledge about these trace metal/particle processes (in the form of prior estimates of the rate parameters and associated errors), and by our uncertainty regarding the trace metal/particle model being considered. I have applied this inverse modelling approach to model the exchange between dissolved and particulate 228,230,234Th, and the degradation and sinking of marine particles, using radionuclide and particle data recently collected as part of the GEOTRACES program.


2. The application of numerical ocean circulation models to study the influence of circulation on the distribution of trace metals in the dissolved and particulate phases. My research in this direction has focused on understanding the extent to which trace metals may deviate from their expected behavior based on a 1-d scavenging model, and perturbation experiments to examine the evolution of trace metals in response to variations in circulation strength. My simulations have been applied to the Middle Atlantic Bight off Cape Cod, using the Princeton Ocean Circulation model to examine the effects of the Deep Western Boundary Current on 230Th and 231Pa distribution in this region. The modelled radionuclide inventories and 231Pa/230Th ratios are compared to a compilation of radionuclide measurements from previous studies in this region.


Programming: Matlab, C++, Fortran, Python.

Modelling: Numerical circulation modelling with conservative and non-conservative tracers, inverse modelling, data assimilation.

Field research: Operation and deployment research vessel equipment, including CTD, Autonomous floats (e.g., carbon flux explorer), optical sediment traps, and clean filtering of water samples, Bongo Net and MOCNESS deployment, zooplankton sample filtering and preservation.


Association for the Sciences of Limnology and Oceanography, Geochemical Society, American Geophysical Union