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Dr. Rainer Amon
Rainer Amon
(409) 740-4719
(409) 740-4787
TAMU Galveston Marine Sciences
Texas A&M University at Galveston 
P.O. Box 1675 
Galveston, Texas 77553

  • Ph.D., Marine Science, University of Texas at Austin, USA, 1995
  • M.S., Zoology/Marine Biology, Unviversity of Vienna, Austria, 1990
  • B.S., Biology, University of Vienna, Austria, 1986

Rainer Amon

Chemical Oceanography: Biogeochemistry, Gliders

Research Interests

1. Carbon and freshwater cycles in the Arctic Ocean - The Arctic Ocean is one of the most vulnerable systems of our planet in terms of climate change. Sea ice extend during summer has decreased by 45% over the last 30 years. We study the distribution of dissolved organic matter as a tracer for freshwater and carbon sources in the Arctic in order to improve our understanding of the rapid changes observed in the recent past.

2. Biogeochemical and hydrographic aspects of natural and anthropogenic carbon in the Gulf of Mexico - The Gulf of Mexico is the most intensively utilized ocean basin in terms of natural resources yet we lack fundamental understanding of its circulation and exchanges with the Atlantic and Caribbean Basins. We focus on the biogeochemistry of carbon (isotopic and biomarker) to elucidate timescales of mixing, to trace water masses and to understand sources and sinks of hydrocarbons.

3. Biogeochemistry of organic matte rand greenhouse gases in large Siberian watersheds - High latitude watersheds store vast amounts of organic carbon in form of permafrost and peat soils. It is believed that with warmer climate significant portions of this organic carbon will be released as carbon dioxide to the atmosphere or as dissolved organic and inorganic carbon to the rivers. We study the fluxes and chemical composition of organic matter and greenhouse gases in high latitude watersheds to understand the effects of climate change on the mobilization and lateral transport of carbon from these watersheds. 

4. Water quality issues in the urban watershed of Houston - For the last 20 or so years urban water bodies in Houston, Tx have been plagued by bacterial contamination rendering theses urban waters unfit for recreational use. We use organic and isotopic tracers in order to investigate the cause for the long-term contamination in these waters hoping to identify a source that can be remediated on a fairly short time scale.


Currently Funded Projects

1. The role of dissolved organic matter for the transport of trace elements in the Arctic Ocean: NSF 2015-2019

Through our international collaborations (Germany, Denmark) we were able to participate in 2 icebreaker cruises to the Eurasian Basin and the Canada Basin. During those expeditions we measured in situ CDOM fluorescence and determined the bulk, optical, and molecular properties of DOM in discrete water samples. Together with the hydrographic measurements during those cruises we are able to develop a better understanding with respect to 3 major questions in the Arctic Ocean.

  • How useful is DOM as a hydrographic tracer and indicator for environmental change
  • What is the role of DOM for the carbon cycle in the Arctic Ocean
  • How important is DOM for the solubility and transport of trace elements in the Arctic Ocean 


2. CIGOM project: Consorcio de Investigacion del Golfo de Mexico: CONACYT 2015-2020

The CIGOM project was funded by CONACYT and SENER, the Mexican Science Foundation and Ministry of Energy, respectively. It represents a multidisciplinary and international program involving 20+ Mexican Institutions along with collaborating institutions from France, Germany, Spain and the US. At the heart of the project lies the development of a profound understanding of the interactions of physical, biological, and chemical processes with large-scale oil spills in the Gulf of Mexico. The scope of the project includes observations from satellites, HF radar, moorings, AUVs’, and ships as well as modeling approaches. The Texas A&M group investigates biogeochemical aspects of the natural and anthropogenic carbon cycle by using a combination of classical water column sampling with new glider-based sensors to investigate the distribution and relationship of hydrocarbons and the natural pools of organic and inorganic carbon in the open and coastal GoM.


3. Carbon Fluxes and Transformations in Siberian Watersheds and Rivers: Russian Foundation for Basic Research, NSF 2014-2019

Since 2014 we are involved in the Russian research project “Sensitivity of carbon fluxes to climate variability in the land-atmosphere-hydrosphere system of the Yenisei River catchment”. This project focuses on a number of watersheds in the Central Siberian Plateau that are distinct in critical watershed characteristics. We are interested to identify the most important factors that control the lateral export of carbon species from the vast Siberian watersheds that contain significant amounts of organic matter relevant to global climate change feedbacks. More recently (2016) we have extended our focus to include fluxes of CO2 and CH4 from these vast Siberian river networks.

Selected Publications

Prokushkin, A.S., O.S. Pokrovsky, M.A. Korets, A.V. Rubtsov, S.V. Titov, I.V. Tokareva, R.A. Kolosov, R.M.W. Amon (2018), Sources of Dissolved Organic Carbon in Rivers of the Yenisei River Basin, Doklady Earth Sciences, 480/2, 764–767

Kaiser K., M. Canedo-Oropeza, R. McMahon & R. M. W. Amon (2017), Origins and transformations of dissolved organic matter in large Arctic rivers, Scientific Reports 7, Article Number: 13064, doi:10.1038/s41598-017-12729-1

Kaiser, K., R. Benner, and R.M.W. Amon (2017), The fate of terrigenous dissolved organic carbon on the Eurasian shelves and export to the North Atlantic, J. Geophys. Res. Oceans, 122, 4–22, doi:10.1002/2016JC012380.

Amon, RMW, (2016) Carbon cycle: Ocean dissolved organics matter. Nature Geoscience 9, 864–865

Abbott B.W., J.B. Jones, E.A.G. Schuur et al. (2016). Biomass offsets little or none of permafrost carbon release from soils, streams, and wildfire: an expert assessment. Environ. Res. Lett. 11 (2016) doi:10.1088/1748-9326/11/3/034014

Fichot CG, Benner R, Kaiser K, Shen Y, Amon RMW, Ogawa H and Lu C-J (2016) Predicting Dissolved Lignin Phenol Concentrations in the Coastal Ocean from Chromophoric Dissolved Organic Matter (CDOM) Absorption Coefficients. Front. Mar. Sci. 3:7. doi: 10.3389/fmars.2016.00007

Brinkmeyer, R.L., J.R. Schwarz, R.M.W. Amon, T. Saxton, D. Roberts, S. Harrison, N. Ellis, J. Fox, R. DiGuardi, M. Hochman, S. Duan*, R. Stein, and C. Elliot (2015). Distribution and Persistence of Escherichia coli and Enterococci in Stream Bed and Bank Sediments from two Urban Streams in Houston, TX. Science of the Total Environment 502: 650–658. DOI: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2014.09.071

Anderson, L. and R.M.W Amon, 2015. DOM in the Arctic Ocean. In D.A. Hansell, C.A. Carlson, editors: Biogeochemistry of Marine Dissolved Organic Matter, UK: Academic Press, 2015, pp. 609-633.

Benner, R., RMW Amon (2014). The Size-Reactivity Continuum of Major Bioelements in the Ocean. Annu. Rev. Mar. Sci. 2015. 7:185–205. DOI: 10.1146/annurev-marine-010213-135126

Duan*, S., R.M.W. Amon, R. L. Brinkmeyer (2014). Tracing sources of organic matter in adjacent urban streams having different degrees of channel modification. Science of The Total Environment: 485–486, Pages 252–262: DOI: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2014.03.066

Crespo-Medina, M., C. D. Meile1, K. S. Hunter, A.-R. Diercks, V. L. Asper, J. P., Orphan, P. L. Tavormina, L.M. Nigro, L.M., J.J. Battles, J.P. Chanton, A.M. Shiller, D.-J. Joung, R. M. W. Amon, A. Bracco, J. P. Montoya, T. A. Villareal, A. M. Wood, and S. B.Joye (2014). The rise and fall of methanotrophy following a deepwater oil-well blowout. Nature Geoscience 7, 423–427 doi:10.1038/ngeo2156

Walker* S.A., R.M.W. Amon, C. Stedmon (2013), Variations in high latitude chromophoric dissolved organic matter (CDOM): A comparison of large Arctic Rivers, J. Geophys. Res: Biogeosciences, 118, doi:10.1002/2013JG002320.

Fichot, C. G., K. Kaiser, S. B. Hooker, R. M. W. Amon, M. Babin, S. Bélanger, S. A. Walker, and Ronald Benner (2013). Pan-Arctic distributions of continental runoff in the Arctic Ocean. Scientific Reports3, Article number: 1053 doi:10.1038/srep01053

Amon RMW, A.J. Rinehart, S. Duan, P. Louchouarn, P. Raymond, R.M. Holmes, J.W. McClelland, BJ Peterson, G. Guggenberger, A. Prokushkin, C. Stedmon, S.A. Walker. (2012). Dissolved organic matter sources in large Arctic rivers. GCA 94: 217-237: doi: 10.1016/j.gca.2012.07.015

Prokushkin, A.S., O.S. Pokrovsky, L.S. Shirokova, M.A. Korets, J. Viers, S.G. Prokushkin, R.M.W.Amon, G. Guggenberger and W.H. McDowell(2011). Sources and the flux pattern of dissolved carbon in rivers of the Yenisey basin draining the Central Siberian Plateau. Environ. Res. Lett. 6(2011) 045212 (14pp) doi:10.1088/1748-9326/6/4/045212.

Stedmon C.A, R.M.W. Amon, A.J. *Rhinehart, S.A. *Walker (2011). The supply and characteristics of colored dissolved organic matter (CDOM) in the Arctic Ocean. (2011). Marine Chemistry 124: 108–118

Amon R.M.W. The role of dissolved organic matter for the Arctic Ocean carbon cycle. 2004. In: The Arctic Ocean Organic Carbon Cycle: Present and Past (R. Stein and R. W. Macdonald). Pp 83-99, Springer

Amon, R.M.W. and Meon*, B., 2004. The biogeochemistry of dissolved organic matter and nutrients in two large Arctic estuaries and potential implications for our understanding of the Arctic Ocean system. Mar. Chem., 92: 311-330.

Amon, R.M.W, G. Budeus &  B. Meon*. 2003. Dissolved organic carbon (DOC) distribution and origin in the Nordic Seas: Exchanges with the Arctic Ocean and the North Atlantic. J. Geophys. Res.-Oceans: Vol. 108, No. C7,3221,doi:10.1029/2002JC001594.

Amon, RMW & R Benner, 1996: Bacterial utilization of different size classes of dissolved organic matter. Limnol. Oceanogr.: 41/1:41-51

Amon, RMW & R Benner, 1996: Photochemical and microbial consumption of dissolved organic carbon and dissolved oxygen in the Amazon River system.  Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta: 60/10: 1783-1792

Amon, RMW & R Benner, 1994: Rapid cycling of high-molecular-weight dissolved organic matter in the ocean. Nature. 369:549-552

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