Researchers at the University of Rhode Island have received a $19 million federal grant to study how man-made and natural climate changes are affecting ecosystems in Narragansett Bay.
URI will collaborate with researchers from other Rhode Island colleges and universities to create a "Bay Observatory" to measure nitrogen and phosphorus levels in the water.
Those are nutrients that cause algae blooms that could be harmful to marine wildlife and people.
Geoff Bothun, chemical engineering professor at URI and the grant's principal investigator, said it’s important to understand how nutrient pollution is impacting the bay.
"This (pollution) is changing the biology that’s occurring within the bay and it has currently, and potentially (has) unknown effects on economies that are based on coastal environments," Bothun said.
The research team is also planning to develop better measurement tools and build computer models to predict future changes to ecosystems in Narragansett Bay.
Scientists from URI, Brown University, Rhode Island School of Design, Rhode Island College, Bryant University, Providence College, Roger Williams University and Salve Regina University expect to start their work early next year.
The five-year grant was awarded by the National Science Foundation.
The State of Rhode Island, through Commerce Rhode Island, has agreed to provide an additional $3.8 million toward the project during the life of the grant.