Funded by the NSF & DoE

The Pan-American Advanced Studies Institutes (PASI) Program is a jointly supported initiative between the Department of Energy (DOE) and the National Science Foundation (NSF). Pan-American Advanced Studies Institutes are short courses ranging in length from ten to twenty-one days, involving lectures, demonstrations, research seminars, and discussions at the advanced graduate, post-doctoral, and junior faculty level.


DEADLINE: February 15, 2013
Please send applications to:

Limited availability: 40 students total
20 students from the U.S.
10 students from Brazil
10 students from elsewhere in Latin America

The U.S. and Latin American students will be selected as a result of a highly-competitive process.

Applications will be restricted to Masters and PhD students enrolled in one of the following general areas of study:

  • Hydrodynamics and/or river and ocean sediment transport
  • Geology and/or coastal geomorphology
  • Oceanography
  • Ocean engineering
  • Ocean modeling and simulation
  • Ocean and weather sensor development and operation
Applicants should prepare a 1-page Statement of Interest indicating how they would contribute to the discussions in the program, and how their participation would enhance their career. A CV and a reference letter from their academic advisor is also required.
July 28 - August 9, 2013
2 Week Program: lecture and field work in Brazil
Worldwide, there is increasing concern about the short and long-term consequences of human activity in and near fluvial-coast-shelf regions. Increases in coastal populations and changes in land-use practices in coastal catchments and floodplains have led to rapid changes in sediment supplies and increases in nutrient, pollutant and pathogen loadings to coastal waters. These impacts pose serious risks to human health and the capacity of ecosystems to support products and services critical to human populations. These risks are increasing and are likely to be compounded by global climate change.

Although the Amazon River system (river-to-shelf) is not highly impacted by human activity, and the risks to populations posed by climate change and other human influences are minimal, the system does represent an extraordinary opportunity for the scientific community to gain insights and understanding of the complex interactions among freshwater outflows, significant sediment loading, a complex coastline, and an energetic coastal ocean out to the shelf break. The Amazon River fluvial-coast-shelf system represents a unique coastal region in many respects, including:
  1. The shear size of the system. The Amazon River freshwater outflow represents approximately 18% of the world’s total riverine discharge, carrying with it approximately 10% of the world’s fluvial sediment supply - approximately 1 billion metric tons of sediment annually. In combination, this produces unique sediment transport processes (e.g., fluid muds in the river delta) and physical oceanographic dynamics (e.g., estuary-like phenomena that extend onto the continental shelf and produce complex open-ocean dynamics).
  2. The system’s location near the equator. These regions of the world will likely respond in unique ways to climate change, in particular as compared to mid-latitude coastal regions.
Clearly, lessons learned in the Amazon River system can be extrapolated to fluvial-coast-shelf systems elsewhere in the world, including those occurring in human-altered environments and those that have remained - like the Amazon - largely pristine. Enhanced understanding of the Amazon system will also support local efforts to manage and preserve this vital natural resource for future generations. The Pan American Advanced Studies Institute (PASI) entitled "Toward a Sustained Operational River-to-Shelf Observation & Prediction System for the Amazon" is intended to produce the following outcomes:
  1. Inform U.S. participants of the unique physical oceanographic, hydrodynamic, sediment transport, and coastal sedimentation processes that influence the ecosystems characteristic of the Amazon fluvial-coast-shelf region.
  2. Build working relationships between the region's scientists and engineers and their U.S. counterparts, as well as among scientists working in various disciplines.
  3. Lay the groundwork for sustained scientific exchange among the faculty and students of the participating U.S. and Latin American universities and organizations.
We believe that a two-week intensive program that challenges a multi-national and multi-disciplinary group of senior faculty, scientists and graduate students with the task of envisioning a comprehensive, real-time observation and forecast system for this enormous and dynamic coastal region will produce a unique opportunity for the exchange of advanced scientific and engineering knowledge AND the stimulation of long-lasting partnerships in research and education.
This PASI is organized in two distinct phases, each spanning one week in duration.
In Week 1, we will seek to accomplish two goals:
  1. Introduce all of the participants to an interdisciplinary perspective of the Amazon fluvial-coast-shelf region, via a series of lectures and workshops. Learning will be facilitated by a mandatory set of pre-PASI reading to be delivered to each participant well in advance of the PASI.
  2. Achieve team-building and cross-talk among participants working in the various disciplines to be represented at the PASI, including hydrodynamics and sediment transport; geology and coastal geomorphology; ocean modeling and simulation; the Amazon coastal system, including mangrove ecosystems; ocean engineering; and ocean and weather sensor development and operation.
Week 2 will consist of fieldwork to be conducted in two separate 2-to-3-day field trips, one along the Brazilian continental shelf on board a fully-equipped research vessel, and the other along the coastal region from the land.

Students will be accommodated in UFF dormitories. These accommodations are walking distance to the Institute.

Geoscience Institute meeting rooms and other facilities:
  • Auditorium with 200 seats
  • Two computer labs for classes with 30 computers each linked to a server and internet
  • Room for video conference or class
  • Library with volumes focused on geosciences
  • University computers have free access to Web of Science via "Portal da CAPES"
  • Nearby cafeteria that serves meals for faculty and students
Faculty and students arriving by plane will deplane in Rio's Galeao International Airport, 35 km away from the Institute. UFF will provide a mini-bus for travel to and from the airport.


    Location for the PASI Course

    Geoscience Institute of Universidade Federal Fluminense
    Niteroi, RJ - Brazil



    Professor Alberto Figueiredo
    Depto. de Geologia - LAGEMAR Universidade Federal Fluminense Niteroi, Brasil


Advanced Reading Material

    List of Advisors

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