Research

Current Projects

Collaborative Research: Lagrangian transport and patchiness of buoyant material in estuarine systems (NSF 2022-25)

This project examines transport of buoyant material in estuaries, specifically the Delaware Estuary, including its aggregation within estuaries, and the effects of resulting patchiness of buoyant material on its transport through the estuary.

Estuarine circulation controls on fate and transport of marine debris: A case study in Delaware Bay (NOAA 2021-23)

This project will measure marine debris abundance, size, and type in the Delaware Bay and predict how marine debris enters and exits, as well as how it moves within the Bay to provide actionable information for future management decisions.

From trash can to crabs: sources, transport, and fate of plastic pollution in the Delaware Estuary (Delaware Sea Grant 2020-23)

This Interdisciplinary Research Project integrates disparate land and ocean observations and models with expertise from the natural and social sciences to comprehensively assess the issue of MPMD in the Delaware Estuary.

Risk from microplastics exposure to blue crab larvae in Delaware Bay and its adjacent coastal shelf (NOAA 2019-22)

This study investigates the risk from microplastics exposure to blue crab larvae in Delaware Bay and its adjacent coastal shelf.

Upper Ocean Turbulence in Non-Equilibrium Conditions (NSF 2016-22)

This study will integrate recent observational, theoretical, and computational progress to systematically assess the influence of non-equilibrium conditions on turbulence near the ocean surface and on the exchange of momentum and heat with the atmosphere.

Completed Projects

Lagrangian investigation of upper ocean turbulence (NSF 2014-21)

Kukulka is investigating upper ocean turbulence and particle transport. His research has implications on the motion of pollutants, plankton, nutrients and air bubbles as they work their way through the seas. [Press Release]

A risk assessment analysis of microplastics in Delaware Bay: Physical controls and biological effects of an emerging pollution issue (Delaware Sea Grant 2018-21)

Plastic marine debris is an emerging pollutant of concern both in the Delaware estuary and around the globe. For this project, we quantify the distribution of microplastic debris in the Delaware Bay and its effect on marine organisms.

Hydrodynamic modeling system for the Delaware coastal environment (DNREC 2014-16)

Coupled wave-ocean modeling system to assess storm hazards (UDRF 2014-16)
Kukulka will validate a hydrodynamic model for predicting coastal storm surges during tropical cyclones and northeasters by comparing simulations of currents and surface waves along the Delaware coast with existing observations. [Press Release]

Turbulence under tropical cyclones (NSF 2011-15)

This project investigates ocean and atmosphere dynamics under Tropical Cyclones to examine an insufficiently understood turbulent process, Langmuir circulation, that is not explicitly represented in most ocean models, despite the fact that Langmuir circulation and turbulence may be a principal mixing component.

Effect of wind-driven mixing on plastic marine debris (NOAA 2012-14)

This research has found This research shows that small particles of plastic are churned further underwater by wind than previously estimated. [Press Release]