Dr. Joseph M. Prospero
- B.S. Ursinus College, Collegeville, PA, USA, 1956
- M.A. Princeton University, Princeton, NJ, USA, 1959
- Ph.D. Princeton University, NJ, USA, 1963
Professor of Marine and Atmospheric Chemistry
Director of Cooperative Institute for Marine and Atmospheric Studies
Our aerosol group focuses on the aerosol chemistry of the marine atmosphere and the biogeochemical effects of the long range atmospheric transport of materials from the continents to the ocean environment. Starting 35 years ago, we pioneered in the study of mineral aerosol (soil dust) transport, showing that huge quantities of dust were carried by winds from arid regions to the oceans. Dust has a great impact on the chemistry of the atmosphere, oceans and sediments. Indeed, our work served as the foundation for the recent interest in the role of windborne iron as an important limiting nutrient in many ocean regions. Working with modelers and using satellite remote sensing, we are developing a much better picture of dust sources, dust properties, and the effects of climate on dust transport.
More recently we have begun studies on the long range transport of viable microorganisms. Our studies in the trade winds on Barbados show that viable bacteria and fungi are seen only in the presence of African dust. This raises questions as to the factors that affect the intercontinental transport of viable microorganisms. These studies could shed light on the long range impacts of plant, animal and human pathogens.