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FAU Researcher to Study Release of Gases in the Florida Everglades and the Link to Climate Change

BOCA RATON, Fla. (April 25, 2013) – Florida Atlantic University researcher Xavier Comas, Ph.D., has been awarded $347,942 from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) for research related to multi-scale characterization of carbon flux dynamics and biogenic gas distribution in the Florida Everglades. The three-year study will measure the accumulation and release of naturally produced greenhouse gases, particularly methane and carbon dioxide, into the atmosphere using non-invasive hydrogeophysical tools and how they relate to climate change.

“This research will involve some very challenging but exciting components, including ground penetrating radar autonomous measurements using motorized rails, and field measurements using an airboat mounted system,” said Comas. “These approaches are unique and have never been tested in the Florida Everglades.”

Comas, an assistant professor in the Department of Geosciences at FAU, will focus on how variable gas emissions are across the Florida Everglades, from Arthur R. Marshall Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge in Palm Beach County, to Everglades National Park in Miami-Dade County. The research also will investigate how the extent and variability of potent greenhouse gas releasing events and its relation to certain environmental variables such as atmospheric pressure.

“These gases are naturally produced by bacteria through anaerobic decomposition of organic material,” said Comas. “It is critical to understand the amount and speed that these gases are being produced and released so that we can better understand how they could impact the future climate.”

Time-lapse measurements will be performed at various points across the study site, and will be used to develop empirical models to predict forcing mechanisms on gas releases using statistical tools and time-frequency analysis.

For more information, contact Xavier Comas at 561-297-3256 or


About Florida Atlantic University:
Florida Atlantic University, established in 1961, officially opened its doors in 1964 as the fifth public university in Florida. Today, the University, with an annual economic impact of $6.3 billion, serves more than 30,000 undergraduate and graduate students at sites throughout its six-county service region in southeast Florida. FAU’s world-class teaching and research faculty serves students through 10 colleges: the Dorothy F. Schmidt College of Arts and Letters, the College of Business, the College for Design and Social Inquiry, the College of Education, the College of Engineering and Computer Science, the Graduate College, the Harriet L. Wilkes Honors College, the Charles E. Schmidt College of Medicine, the Christine E. Lynn College of Nursing and the Charles E. Schmidt College of Science. FAU is ranked as a High Research Activity institution by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. The University is placing special focus on the rapid development of three signature themes – marine and coastal issues, biotechnology and contemporary societal challenges – which provide opportunities for faculty and students to build upon FAU’s existing strengths in research and scholarship. For more information, visit

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