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News & Events

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News stories posted in the last 60 days. For information about a story, contact Dennis Krohn 727-502-8062.

Deltares partners: U Miami, TUDelft, UNESCO-IHEDeltares researchers visiting USGS scientists to develop coastal evolution and coastal vulnerability models

Researchers from the Dutch coastal research institute Deltares are visiting the USGS St. Petersburg Coastal and Marine Science Center (SPCMSC) March 16–19, 2015. Ap van Dongeren and Arnold van Rooijen are meeting with USGS researchers Nathaniel Plant, Joe Long, Hilary Stockdon, and Cheryl Hapke to discuss collaborative projects to predict coastal evolution and to assess coastal vulnerability. Topics include evolution of barrier-island breaches formed by Hurricane Sandy, runup during extreme storms, and coupling of detailed modeling, observed coastal change, and coastal damage assessments. The meeting will result in plans for testing improved model formulations and for applying models to new coastal-process problems.

For more information about Deltares Coastal Research Institute, visit

posted: 2015-03-19

Sea-level graphic showing different resolutionsSouth Florida Water Management District (SFWMD) Chief Modeler Obeysekera speaks at both USGS SPCMSC and USF St. Petersburg Campus

On Friday, March 20th, Jayantha Obeysekera, Chief Modeler of Hydrologic and Environmental Systems for the South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD), will speak to the USGS St. Petersburg Coastal and Marine Science Center (SPCMSC) regarding opportunities to construct storm surge models to aid storm-response resource planning for the Florida east coast counties of Miami-Dade, Broward, and Palm Beach. Dr. Obeysekera will discuss the roles and responsibilities of SFWMD for addressing the storm preparedness needs of the participating counties. At a recent conference on Saltwater Intrusion Modeling in July, county managers explained that one of the principal weaknesses they saw in their current storm preparedness was the lack of communication between the models computed by SFWMD to predict fresh water and saltwater flows and levels, and the models predicting storm surge computed by the National Weather Service (NWS) and the USGS. NWS models are primarily created by modelers at SPCMSC. After his noon talk at SPCMSC, Dr. Obeysekera will speak at the University of South Florida lecture series at 3:30 pm on the concept of Non-Stationarity for estimating future floods and extreme sea levels.

For more information about the concepts of Non-Stationarity, see a video of Dr. Obeysekera's NH52A-03 talk posted at the 2014 American Geophysical Union Meeting:,+Presented+By+Jayantha+Obeysekera/0_z7wnonz8. (Free login required to view video.)

posted: 2015-03-19

Photo showing coastal change after Hurricane SandyUSGS Researchers continue Post-Sandy Recovery Assessment

From March 17–21, St. Petersburg Coastal and Marine Science (SPCMSC) Research Geologist, Cheryl Hapke, will travel to New York to represent the USGS as the Department of Interior's (DOI) science advisor for a Conditional Breach Protocol Plan. The meeting will be held at the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Headquarters in New York City. Following the meeting, Cheryl will join Owen Brenner on Long Island, New York. They will conduct GPS monitoring surveys on Fire Island, New York, as part of the continuing efforts to assess post-Sandy beach recovery. These surveys support the Hurricane Sandy Supplemental Fire Island project.

For more information on the Hurricane Sandy Supplemental Fire Island project, visit:

posted: 2015-03-19

14 semifinalist teams selected for the Wendy Schmidt Ocean Health XPRIZEUSGS scientist participates in XPRIZE Phase 3 trial evaluations

From March 6–10, Christina Kellogg (Research Microbiologist) from the USGS St. Petersburg Coastal and Marine Science Center (SPCMSC) will travel to Seattle, Washington, to act as a judge in the Phase 3 trials of the Wendy Schmidt Ocean Health XPRIZE (see SPCMSC Highlights from 2014-09-11 and 2014-12-11). This $2 million competition has teams ranging from high school students to instrument manufacturers, vying to develop accurate and affordable ocean pH sensors to actually measure the predicted acidification of the oceans. Fourteen teams have advanced to the Phase 3 coastal trials in Puget Sound, Washington, having successfully put their pH sensors through a three-month test under laboratory conditions at the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute in Monterey, California, this past fall. The top submissions will advance to deep-sea trials off Hawaii in May 2015.

For more information, visit:

posted: 2015-03-17

Best Data Management Practices Flowchart from presentationBriefing to Florida Water Centers Highlights Best Data Management Practices

The USGS Tampa Water Science office has invited Heather Henkel (Information Technology Specialist—St. Petersburg, Fla.) to give a presentation to Caribbean-Florida Water Science Centers on the newly-released U.S. Geological Survey Instructional Manual on Data Management and to learn what resources are available. The purpose of this presentation is to boil down the wealth of information resources and highlight some of the more important aspects of data management in the USGS. The presentation will cover data management topics, such as:

Survey working groups,
Where to find help (including the USGS Data Management website),
Free training, handouts, guidance on creating digital object identifiers (doi's) for data release,
How to create metadata and data management plans, and Links to resources.
posted: 2015-03-17

Celebration of USGS 136th AnniversaryCelebration of USGS 136th Anniversary part of SPCMSC March 3, 2015, All-Hands Meeting welcoming new Center Director

Acting USGS St. Petersburg Science Center Director Susan Russell-Robinson (CMGP-Reston) met with staff members to chart a course for the 60-day transition period between Center Directors, following the retirement of SPCMSC Center Director Richard Poore, who served admirably in the role for the past four years. The directive from Southeast Regional Executive Jess Weaver for the Center passed to Susan is "steady at the helm, full speed ahead." Center staff celebrated the 136th anniversary of the USGS with the new Acting Director.

posted: 2015-03-05

Graphic of a plane capturing lidar dataUSGS staff meet with Federal partner agencies acquiring Lidar to discuss common protocols for processing data

From March 3–6, USGS staff including Dave Zawada (Research Oceanographer), Rudy Troche (Computer Engineer), Dave Nagle (Programmer/Analyst), Xan Fredericks (GIS/Image Analyst), and Christine Kranenburg (Spatial Modeler/GIS Specialist) are meeting with US Army Corp of Engineers (USACOE) and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) colleagues at Stennis Space Center in Bay St. Louis, Mississippi, to discuss protocols and methods for processing raw lidar data. The goal is to share respective experiences of the groups, and to identify ways to streamline and improve procedures for transforming raw lidar data into useful data products.

For more information about the lidar project, please visit 2015-03-05

Unmanned plane being launched by researcherUSGS hears talk on coastal Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) applications

On February 25th, Larry Harvey and Maria Peterson from the Center for Applied Space Technology (CAST) visited the USGS St. Petersburg Coastal and Marine Science Center (SPCMSC). Larry gave a brown bag talk to interested staff describing opportunities to work with unmanned vehicles for coastal research in Florida, in response to the Innovation Fund Call for Proposals announced by USGS Director Kimball on January 29th. As part of CAST's mission to develop innovative technologies for aeronautical and space applications, they have established a relationship with the Gulf Unmanned Systems Center (GUSC, pronounced "Gussy") located near Carabelle, Florida. GUSC is a unique resource in the Southeast, specifically designed to test automated aerial, marine, and terrestrial applications.

For more information on the GUSC test facility, visit

posted: 2015-03-05

Google Earth image of study areaUSGS researchers invited to meetings on Louisiana wetland restoration

USGS St. Petersburg Coastal and Marine Science Center (SPCMSC) researchers have been invited to join the latest Systems Wide Assessment and Monitoring Program (SWAMP) planning meeting on March 16th in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. SWAMP is a coast-wide program being developed by Louisiana Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority (CPRA) and The Water Institute of the GULF (TWIG). CPRA and TWIG will: 1) present the process used to support a system-wide assessment and monitoring program, 2) present the Coast-wide and Barataria plans, and 3) provide opportunities to discuss and answer questions about the design process, and 4) welcome discussion regarding potential leveraging options as we move towards implementation. Invited attendees from SPCMSC include Jack Kindinger, Jim Flocks, Jennifer Miselis, John Barras, and Chris Smith, along with USGS staff from the National Wetlands Research Center (NWRC) and Lower Mississippi-Gulf Water Science Center (LMGWSC).

posted: 2015-03-05

Photo of marine research equipmentUSGS St. Petersburg hosts Ops Managers from other CMGP field centers

On Monday, March 2, P. Soupy Dalyander (Research Oceanographer—St. Petersburg Coastal and Marine Science Center (SPCMSC)) will host operational staff (Ops) from the other two Coastal and Marine Geology Program (CMGP) centers to speak at SPCMSC. Marinna Martini is an engineer in the Woods Hole CMG office, and Joanne Ferreira is with the marine facilities group at the Pacific CMG center. The visitors will give an informal presentation with an overview of the capabilities of their centers; and will discuss how these two centers have collaborated in the past on field projects, equipment sharing, etc. It will also be a chance for SPCMSC staff to discuss some of their in-house capabilities, and to consider opportunities for collaboration in the future.

posted: 2015-02-27

Map of study areaFormer Woods Hole Center Director speaks to St. Petersburg, Florida, staff on Fire Island, NY research

On February 19, Bill Schwab, oceanographer and former Center Director of Woods Hole Coastal and Marine Science Center (WHCMSC) spoke to the research and operational staff in St. Pete about his twenty years of experience relating framework geology to the coastal geomorphology and dynamics of the southern barrier island beaches of Long Island. Bill has been working closely with SPCMSC Research Geologist Cheryl Hapke on these research efforts, as well as on the breach that was formed by Hurricane Sandy on Fire Island. Bill has focused on acquiring a time series of offshore bathymetric and backscatter sonar data to understand both the geologic context of the beach deposits in Fire Island and how they change over time.

For more information about USGS research on the new breach in Fire Island, see

Visit the Fire Island Coastal Change website:

posted: 2015-02-27

Rutgers Eco-Complex in Bordentown, NJUSGS invited to Coastal and Land Use Planning Exercise by NJ Department of Environmental Protection

The Coastal and Land Use planning program of the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection invited scientists from both the St. Petersburg and Woods Hole Coastal and Marine Science Centers (SPCMSC and WHCMSC) to their 2015 Living Shorelines and Coastal Restoration Summit, to be held on 27 February at the Rutgers Eco-Complex in Bordentown, NJ. Jennifer Miselis will be presenting geomorphologic and sedimentologic change analysis resulting from Hurricane Sandy. The data were collected as part of a multi-year project that sought to characterize the physical estuarine environment of Barnegat Bay, NJ and its influence on water quality. Bathymetry, sediment distribution, and lidar resources that may inform coastal land use and restoration decisions will also be shown. Brian Andrews and Zafer Defne will present topo-bathymetric products and numerical modeling results from Barnegat Bay, NJ. Finally, Kara Doran will demonstrate the Coastal Change Hazards Portal, focusing on pre- and post-Sandy erosion hazards along the NJ coast. Discussions at the meeting will help define ways in which the breadth of USGS products and expertise can be utilized by coastal managers.

For more information about Barnegat Bay, read "Mapping, Measuring, and Modeling to Understand Water-Quality Dynamics in Barnegat Bay-Little Egg Harbor Estuary, New Jersey" and "Hurricane Sandy Disrupts USGS Study of the Barnegat Bay-Little Egg Harbor Estuary in New Jersey, Provides Additional Research Opportunities."

posted: 2015-02-19

USGS Research Marine Biologist Ilsa KuffnerUSGS staff speaks about "Wimps and Winners on Florida's Coral Reefs"

On Feb. 5th, USGS Research Marine Biologist Ilsa Kuffner spoke on Florida's coral reefs at the Florida Sea Grant Extension "Salty Topics" marine speaker series at the Weedon Island Preserve Cultural and Natural History Center in St. Petersburg, FL. Despite much attention from the press, misconceptions regarding the causes of reef decline abound. Ilsa summarized the debate about reef decline and gave her thoughts on the prospects for reef recovery in the Florida Keys.

posted: 2015-02-19

Spoonbill BowlStaff participate in Spoonbill Bowl Ocean Science Competition

On Feb. 7th, Kara Doran and Christian Haller represented the USGS as volunteers for the National Ocean Science Bowl's Annual Spoonbill competition. The Spoonbill Bowl is a regional competition that allows high-school students to boost their knowledge of marine science and compete as a team against other schools for the opportunity to participate in the National Ocean Sciences Bowl. The competition is organized by the University of South Florida (USF) College of Marine Science and takes place on the campus of USF St. Petersburg. USGS St. Petersburg Coastal and Marine Science Center scientists and staff have supported this event since 2005, when St. Petersburg first began hosting the regional competition.

posted: 2015-02-19

Topical CurrentsUSGS scientist to participate in radio talk show regarding the state of South Florida marine environments

On February 5, USGS Research Marine Biologist, Ilsa Kuffner, will participate in a live interview on radio station WLRN from South Florida with Philippe Cousteau of EarthEcho International. The program will focus on the Earth Echo Expedition this past September, 2014 (See Highlight from 2014-09-18). EarthEcho International is an environmental education organization co-founded and led by Philippe Cousteau. The program will air at 1 pm and be part of the Topical Currents show hosted by Joseph Cooper and Bonnie Berman.

posted: 2015-02-05

Photograph of scientists collecting vibracores near Breton IslandUSGS field staff help supervise drill core excursion to Breton Island, Louisiana

From Jan. 3rd to Jan. 21st, Kyle Kelso (Research Associate, St. Petersburg), helped American Vibracore Services obtain 65 vibracores for the Geologic Evolution of Coastal Margins project, in collaboration with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill National Resource Damage Assessment Early Restoration Project. The project is being undertaken to restore the bird nesting habitat at Breton Island National Wildlife Refuge. The vibracores will be used to characterize the stratigraphy around Breton Island. Ground-truth geophysical data, collected in 2014 by the USGS, will provide sediment texture information for the restoration efforts. The cores will be analyzed at the USGS St. Petersburg Coastal and Marine Science Center (SPCMSC) core-processing laboratory.

posted: 2015-02-05

UK Science and Innovation NetworkBritish Embassy invites USGS to workshop on Social Responses to Emergencies

On February 5–6, the United Kingdom (UK) Science and Innovation Network (SIN) and the Research Councils United Kingdom (RCUK) are hosting a workshop on Social Responses to Emergencies at the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Florida. The British Embassy invited the USGS to participate, and USGS Research Oceanographer Hilary Stockdon was chosen for her expertise and interest in Hurricane Katrina. The workshop will bring together the academic, government, and private sectors from the UK and US to synthesize generic lessons, and identify critical differences across these settings, in order to export and import lessons and good practices. The workshop will attempt to draw broad lessons from three particular case studies:

  • Health: This case study will be based on the on-going Ebola epidemic in West Africa.
  • Natural Hazards: This case study will focus on coastal and inland flooding associated with Hurricane Katrina.
  • Security: This will focus on a security (terrorist-induced) emergency in the US or UK.

For more information about the UK Science and Innovation Network, visit:

posted: 2015-02-05

Graphic describing the synchronized field work on the reefscapeMultidisciplinary winter field effort at Crocker Reef, Florida Keys

From January 26–February 6, researchers from the USGS will be engaged in an integrated data and sample collection at Crocker Reef, Florida Keys, as part of the Coastal and Marine Geology Program's (CMGP) Coral Reef Ecosystem Studies (CREST) project. The seasonal study, begun last summer, is a major part of a year-long focus on Crocker Reef, combining expertise in three specific areas: geochemistry, geology, and metabolic processes. The effort will combine water sampling for carbonate chemistry, reef metagenome analyses, and will also include servicing temperature loggers and current meters. Principal investigators are Christina Kellogg, Kim Yates and David Zawada; assisting are Chris Moore, Nathan Smiley, and Legna Torres-Garcia. University of Tampa professor Rob Masserini is collaborating on nutrient profiles and will also be sending a student on the trip.


posted: 2015-01-29

2015 Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill and Ecosystem Science ConferenceUSGS Researcher to give talk on Sand and Oil Agglomerates at 2015 Oil Spill Conference

From February 16–19, USGS Research Oceanographer P. Soupy Dalyander will travel to Houston, Texas, to give an oral presentation at the 2015 Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill and Ecosystem Science Conference. Soupy's talk is titled "Physical Dynamics of Sand and Oil Agglomerates: Field and Laboratory Studies of Artificial Proxies." Co-authors from SPCMSC include Joseph Long, Nathaniel Plant, Dave Thompson, and Molly McLaughlin.

For more information about the conference, visit:

posted: 2015-01-29

Scientist setting up equipment testUSGS staff to test acoustic properties of USGS offshore geophysical equipment

Stan Locker (Research Geologist, St. Pete) will travel to Newport, Rhode Island from 1/26–1/31 and then later to Leesburg, Florida, along with Jake Fredericks (Researcher I), to help characterize the acoustic properties of the sources used for routine USGS geophysical surveys (sidescan, chirp, and boomers). The measurements are part of a joint project funded by the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) and include all three Coastal and Marine Geology Program (CMGP) Centers (Santa Cruz, St. Petersburg, and Woods Hole) in cooperation with the Naval Undersea Warfare Center (NUWC). The objectives of the trips are to obtain accurate measurements of the acoustic properties of various transducers and acoustic sources used in our geophysical surveys. These data will then be used to inform permitting guidelines for using these acoustic systems in the marine environment.

For more information about the NUWC, visit:

posted: 2015-01-29

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