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

front page of Fact SheetUsing Science to Strengthen our Nation's Resilience to Tomorrow's Challenges—Understanding and Preparing for Coastal Impacts

A new fact sheet "Using Science to Strengthen our Nation's Resilience to Tomorrow's Challenges—Understanding and Preparing for Coastal Impacts" describes how the USGS is combining interdisciplinary science with state-of-the-art technologies to achieve a comprehensive understanding of coastal change caused by Hurricane Sandy. By assessing coastal change impacts through research and by developing tools that enhance our science capabilities, support coastal stakeholders, and facilitate effective decision making, we continue to build a greater understanding of the processes at work across our Nation’s complex coastal environment—from wetlands, estuaries, barrier islands, and nearshore marine areas to infrastructure and human communities. This improved understanding will increase our resilience as we prepare for future short-term, extreme events as well as long-term coastal change.

posted: 2014-09-16

A variety of corals growing under mangrove treesUSGS scientists discover previously undocumented refuge for corals as an adaption due to recent climate change

On August 19th lead authors oceanographer Kim Yates from the St. Petersburg Coastal and Marine Science (SPCMSC) and research biologist Caroline Rogers from the Southeast Ecological Science Center (SESC) published a peer-reviewed article in Biogeoscience documenting a previously unknown refuge for coral growth in the Virgin Islands Coral Reef National Monument, St. John, VI, along with four other USGS and university scientists. The findings show that mangrove habitats are providing refuge for over 30 species of scleractinian corals from solar radiation, thermal stress and ocean acidification, and potential adaptation of these corals to higher water temperatures. To the authors' knowledge, this has never before been documented in the geologic or modern record. Co-authors contributing are Nate Smiley from SPCMSC, Gregg Brooks and Rebecca Larsen from Eckerd College, and Jimmy Herlan from Universidad Católica del Norte.

To view the journal article, visit http://www.biogeosciences.net/11/4321/2014/bg-11-4321-2014.html.

posted: 2014-09-11

Wendy Schmidt Ocean Health XPRIZEUSGS Researcher chosen for judging panel of the Wendy Schmidt Ocean Health XPRIZE

XPRIZE, a nonprofit organization dedicated to creating and managing large-scale, high-profile, incentivized prize competitions that stimulate investment in research and development, has announced the $2 million Wendy Schmidt Ocean Health XPRIZE. On the heels of the successful Wendy Schmidt Oil Cleanup XCHALLENGE, the Wendy Schmidt Ocean Health XPRIZE aims to spur global innovators to develop accurate and affordable ocean pH sensors that will ultimately transform our understanding of ocean acidification. Current sensors are limited in their capacity to detect ocean acidification changes in the deep ocean and in coastal waters, and we cannot assess change unless we understand and measure what is out there. Eighteen teams from around the world have registered for this 22-month competition. USGS Research Microbiologist Dr. Christina Kellogg has been chosen to be on the five-member judging panel. Judges were vetted by the competition's Science Advisory Board and chosen based on scientific expertise, objective outlook, credibility, and ethical reputation. Judges will award points during several testing phases including laboratory trials, coastal trials and open ocean trials. The judging panel has the sole authority to declare the winners of the competition, and the final decisions will be announced during an award ceremony in July 2015.

For more information on the XPRIZE, visit: http://oceanhealth.xprize.org.

posted: 2014-09-11

Steven Douglas and Joseph Terrano, with USGS Ecologist Kathryn SmithUniversity of South Florida St. Petersburg (USFSP) students take GIS skills to USGS

On August 1, the USFSP online student news website posted an article written by Jessica Blais about two student interns working at the USGS St. Petersburg Coastal and Marine Science Center (SPCMSC). Two Environmental Science Policy and Geography students, Steven Douglas and Joseph Terrano are working with USGS Ecologist Kathryn Smith on computer-aided mapping projects to identify coastal hazards using Geographic Information Systems (GIS) technology. Douglas, a Masters student, and Terrano, a rising senior, are students of Barnali Dixon, chair of the Department of Environmental Science, Policy, and Geography.

To read the article, see: http://www.usfsp.edu/blog/2014/08/01/students-take-gis-skills-to-usgs/.

posted: 2014-09-11

marine biology studentsSt. Petersburg Marine Microbiology Laboratory hosts St. Petersburg College marine biology student group

On September 10, SPCMSC Research Microbiologist Christina Kellogg will host St. Petersburg College (SPC) sophomore and junior marine biology students. Kellogg will give a presentation about marine microbiology and her recent work on coral diseases.

posted: 2014-09-04

USGS conducted joint sonar/lidar bathymetric survey at Cape Canaveral, Florida, to support U.S. Air Force erosion vulnerability study

On 18 August 2014, researchers from the Saint Petersburg Coastal and Marine Science Center (SPCMSC) began a bathymetric survey of the complicated shoals, channels, and bars that are connected to the Cape Canaveral shoreline. This region has complex patterns of erosion and deposition that are evolving due to storms and sea-level rise. The survey approach utilized the both sonar and lidar observation technologies to optimize data coverage over a wide region with variable water clarity. The two data sets will be integrated into a single data set used to estimate bathymetric change and provide new input to numerical models. Additional data were collected to quantify survey accuracy and to develop improved assimilation of oceanographic, lidar, and sonar data and models.

posted: 2014-08-28

USGS scientists travel to Fire Island, New York, to continue post-Sandy monitoring

From 9/7–9/11, USGS geologists Cheryl Hapke, Owen Brenner, and Kat Wilson will return to Fire Island after an extensive field data collection trip in June to re-survey the shoreline and beach profiles ongoing coastal recovery studies. They will also present an update of field activities and preliminary findings to the NPS staff. Fire Island is one of the principal USGS areas of interest to document geologic processes related to Sandy erosion and recovery.

posted: 2014-08-28

Screen shot showing Python Map exampleSenior USGS science data coordinator continues work on data management training modules

From August 26–29, Heather Henkel, based at the St. Petersburg field center, will travel to Lakewood, Colorado, to work with Viv Hutchison and Lisa Zolly (Core Science Systems) on new training modules for the USGS Data Management web site. The first modules are available at http://www.usgs.gov/datamanagement/training/modules.php and cover three introductory topics. The USGS Data Management web site was developed to not only provide broad and easy access to best practices, tools, and recommended reading, but also to facilitate compliance with recent mandates from the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) regarding open data access to well-managed, federally-funded research. Regardless of location, a broad range of scientists with little or no experience in data management will be able to implement current best practices by having the training modules available online.

posted: 2014-08-21

Members of the award-winning USGS Environmental Achievement teamSPCMSC receives USGS Environmental Achievement Award

The St. Petersburg Coastal and Marine Science Center (SPCMSC) received notice it won one of three USGS Environmental Achievement Awards announced on August 6. SPCMSC won in the category for Good Neighbors for Greenhouse Gas Reduction. The award recognized the small team of Ellen Raabe, Environmental Program Coordinator, Molly McLaughlin, Lab and Safety Manager, Chris Reich, Operations Manager, the St. Petersburg Downtown Partnership, and the Southeast Companies, facility leasing company. SPCMSC in collaboration with Southeast Companies has diligently worked to reduce greenhouse gas emissions at the Center primarily by reducing electricity consumption by 19% from FY2012 to FY 2013 (see Highlight from 2014-05-08). The effort in FY2012 was part of ongoing modifications that included a hot-water solar tube array replacing the bulk of the natural gas used by the laboratory building, conversion from fluorescent bulbs to LED lighting, and expanding chilled water, supplied by the University of South Florida, by retrofitting HVAC (Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning) in all three buildings.

posted: 2014-08-14

Old photograph of USGS scientist taking measurements in the fieldUSGS field team to establish Sediment Elevation Tables (SETs) on Crocker Reef

From 8/18 to 8/29, five field staff from the USGS will travel to Islamorada, Fla. to establish benchmarks and accurately locate underwater Sediment Elevation Tables on Crocker Reef utilizing both the 25–foot R/V Sallenger and the 22-foot Twin Vee. Over the coming months and years, the SETs will allow the USGS to characterize sediment accumulation or removal patterns at several locations around the reef in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary (For earlier work on Crocker Reef, see Highlight from 2014-07-02). USGS staff contributing to the fieldwork are Chris Reich, B.J. Reynolds, Nate Smiley, Lauren Toth, and new operations hire Anastasios Stathakopoulos (Anesti). Kim Yates and Dave Zawada serve as co-principal investigators.

posted: 2014-08-14

Map showing RRT areas in the US and CaribbeanUSGS oceanographer to give presentation to California Regional Response Team IX

From 8/12–8/13, St. Petersburg Coastal and Marine Science (SPCMSC) research oceanographer P. Soupy Dalyander will participate in a Regional Response Team IX (RRT) meeting held in Signal Hill, California. The RRT is one of 13 teams chartered across the nation, co-chaired by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG), for developing incident response plans. Soupy's presentation is titled "Assessing mobility and redistribution patterns of sand and oil agglomerates in the surf zone." The talk covers the work done as part of the Operational Science Advisory Team (OSAT3) in responding to Deepwater Horizon incident (see Highlight from 2014-02-13).

posted: 2014-07-31

Students from Orlando enjoy a visit to USGS St. Petersburg campusOrlando summer science camp students visit USGS St. Petersburg campus

On July 17, approximately 20 campers and counselors from the Orlando Science Center summer camp visited the USGS SPCMSC center. Organized by Monica Cook from the University of South Florida (USF) College of Marine Science, the visit to USGS is part of a day-long tour of the USGS/USF facilities in St. Petersburg. Kara Doran (SPCMSC Oceanographer) spoke to the middle school students about USGS barrier-island research at the center, and ended her talk by sharing personal stories about her experiences measuring beach erosion at the Kennedy Space Center.

posted: 2014-07-24

TechTrek logoUSGS St. Petersburg field center participates in Florida Tech Trek Outreach

On July 14, Theresa Burress and Karen Morgan from the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) St. Petersburg Coastal and Marine Science Center (SPCMSC) participated in the Florida Tech Trek at Eckerd College. Sponsored by the American Association of University Women (AAUW), the Tech Trek is a one-week science camp for eighth grade girls. The STEM-focused (science, technology, engineering, and math) summer camp program allows girls to gain confidence in STEM related subjects with hands-on labs and projects. Tech Trek has camps in over 10 states.

Theresa Buress presented an overview of the USGS and the St. Petersburg Center (SPCMSC). Karen Morgan presented the erosion model, "A Pan, a Fan, and some Sand," showing how the model can demonstrate the effects of extreme storms on our coastlines. With two full model setups the girls were divided into groups of 10, and worked together on their ideas to build an island. After the islands were built, participants could watch how their islands eroded when the fans were turned on. While the models were running the girls also used microscopes to view and identify different sands from around the world, and practiced using sieves to sort sand into different grain sizes. Afterward, Theresa and Karen discussed how each group built their island and talked about what worked to deter erosion and what did not. The overview and models were presented to two groups of 20 girls each, one in the morning and one in the afternoon.

For more information on the Tech Trek camps, visit: http://www.aauw-techtrek.org/.

posted: 2014-07-24

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