2023 Ruth Patrick Award Recipient

Dongyan Liu

Each year, the Association for the Sciences of Limnology and Oceanography (ASLO) honors an aquatic scientist whose research leads to the identification, analysis, or solution of important environmental problems with the Ruth Patrick Award. The 2023 Ruth Patrick Award will be presented to Dr. Dongyan Liu, for discovering that the Yellow Sea green tide phenomenon initiated with intensive coastal aquaculture, for her research on the biophysical mechanisms and physiological attributes of the algae that explain the extraordinary growth and spread of the blooms, and for her work on mitigation of this significant environmental problem. The award will be presented to Dr. Liu at the 2023 Aquatic Sciences Meeting in Palma de Mallorca, Spain in June 2023.

Dr. Dongyan Liu is the Deputy Director of the State Key Laboratory for Estuarine and Coastal Research at East China Normal University. Her work has been critical to solving the origin of the Yellow Sea green-tides, the world’s largest harmful algal blooms that have been a recurrent environmental phenomenon of enormous scale and severity since the first occurrence in 2008. Increasing harmful algal blooms have caused significant impact on the ocean ecosystems, coastal economies, and threatened human health and are expected to become more frequent, more widespread, and longer lasting in the face of global climate change. Professor Liu and her research team were the first to determine the cause of the Yellow Sea green tides, explaining the origin of the blooms, the mechanisms of bloom formation, growth and dispersal and to develop methods for mitigating impacts. This work was based on a progression of sound, multidisciplinary studies (e.g., satellite and field observations, genetic, physiological, and isotope analysis, and hydrodynamic modelling). Dr. Liu’s research provides a worldwide approach for mitigating floating macroalgal blooms.

The first of the large-scale Yellow Sea green-tides occurred in Qingdao in 2008, with an area >10,000 km2 which greatly impacted coastal aquaculture and tourism at the height of summer. Contrary to prevailing opinions at the time, Dr. Liu and her team tracked the source to fouling algae on rafts in nori aquaculture farms. These farms had developed rapidly since 2006 along the coastline of southern Yellow Sea, hundreds of km away from where the bloom came ashore and made its deleterious impacts. Dr. Liu and her colleagues had correctly predicted this would become an annual event and their results provided crucial information to enable government controls on nutrient input along the coastline.

ASLO President Dr. Patricia Glibert notes, "Dr. Dongyan Liu has made an outstanding contribution to determine the causes of a significant environmental problem. Her publications on the green tide phenomena have received worldwide attention and have guided successful government controls. We are honored to present this year's Ruth Patrick Award to Professor Liu in recognition of her outstanding achievements and exemplary tenaciousness in the aquatic sciences."

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