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Physical Oceanographer Malcolm Scully Wins Young Achiever Award from National Organization

Malcolm Scully, a researcher with the Center for Coastal Physical Oceanography (CCPO) at Old Dominion University, has been named the 2009 winner of the Cronin Award for Early Achievement by the Coastal and Estuarine Research Federation (CERF).

Recent research by Scully focuses on the circulation and layering of salt and fresh waters in the Chesapeake Bay, which has long been plagued by periods of oxygen-poor, hypoxic water, the cause of which is most often attributed to pollution and excessive nutrients.

However, in recent years, the hypoxic conditions have persisted in the bay even after pollution abatement steps have been taken. Scully found that lateral circulation, caused by wind blowing across the surface of the water, has a greater effect on the amount of oxygen in the water than does pollution.

After making detailed observations of turbulence in the bay, Scully developed a model showing that hypoxic zones were more likely to occur when winds blew out of the west and southwest. Winds blowing out of the southeast, on the other hand, did not produce hypoxic waters, because the southeast winds pushed the water over shoals. The resulting turbulence mixed oxygen into water and circulated it more deeply into the bay.

Scully's work has been described as the most significant breakthrough in understanding the physics of estuaries in the last decade.

He will receive the Cronin Award at the CERF biennial scientific conference, Nov. 1-5 in Portland, Oregon. The award recognizes significant accomplishments of an estuarine scientist within six years of receiving a doctorate degree. Previous recipients include Elizabeth North, University of Maryland, 2007; Peter Raymond, Yale University, 2005; Lisa Lucas, U.S. Geological Survey; 2003; Jaye Ellen Cable, Louisiana State University, 2001; Bradley Eyre, Southern Cross University, 1999, and Samantha Joye, University of Georgia, 1997.

CERF represents estuarine and coastal ocean scientists in the U.S. and Canada.

Scully received his doctorate from William and Mary College in 2005. He did post-graduate work at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution before accepting a job at Old Dominion University in 2008. His graduate work on sediment gravity flows resulted in six peer-reviewed papers, one of which has been cited 44 times. His graduate and postdoctoral research on estuarine processes has produced another six journal articles.

This article was posted on: September 11, 2009

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