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News & Events

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News stories posted in the last 60 days. For information about a story, contact Betsy Boynton.

USGS researcher advises European-Union coastal hazard project: Risc-kit

From April 5–7, Nathaniel Plant (Research Oceanographer, SPCMSC) will attend the final meeting of a 12-country coastal hazard project called Risc-Kit in Delft, The Netherlands, to review project results and present a U.S. perspective on coastal hazard research and applications. USGS and the international community help protect coastal infrastructure, economies, and ecosystems. Specifically, the Netherlands looks to USGS for data sets on storm impacts, and many aspects of the Risc-Kit project are modeled on the USGS coastal change assessments. Lessons learned by Risc-Kit and USGS projects are mutually beneficial to understanding and responding to coastal hazards.

posted: 2017-03-22

Lidar Coordinator elected to serve as ASPRS GIS Division Assistant Director

Xan Fredericks, Lidar Coordinator for the Coastal and Marine Geology Program, won the 2017 American Society for Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing (ASPRS) National Election for GIS Division Assistant Director ( She will serve as GISD Assistant Director for two years and then move up to the Director position for two more years. Founded in 1934, the ASPRS is a scientific association serving over 7,000 professional members around the world with a mission to advance knowledge and improve understanding of mapping sciences, and to promote the responsible applications of photogrammetry, remote sensing, geographic information systems (GIS), and supporting technologies.

posted: 2017-03-16

Splash screen of new project webpageJoint USGS/USEPA Soil Pathogens Webpage and Interactive Map Application is now live

USGS researcher Dale Griffin (Environmental and Public Health Microbiologist, SPCMSC), in partnership with the USEPA Office of Homeland Security, has published a new project webpage, “Joint USGS/USEPA Pathogens in Soils Geographic Information Systems Project,” featuring an interactive web mapping application. This application, created by Steven Douglas (Researcher, SPCMSC), helps researchers determine background concentrations of select pathogens in soils of the contiguous U.S. and the influences of geochemistry, weather and climate on these pathogen populations. The application will be used to display future predictive geospatial modeling and research results.

posted: 2017-03-16

USGS Research Scientist quoted in Inside Climate News regarding coral bleaching

USGS Research Marine Biologist Ilsa Kuffner (SPCMSC) was quoted in a March 15, 2017 article of Inside Climate News. The author of the new article asked Kuffner to comment upon the results of a study published in Nature this week about the connection between ocean-heat stress and coral bleaching on the Australian Great Barrier Reef. The new study found that 2016 coral bleaching intensity was almost entirely explained by the amount heat-stress and not by reef-management status, water quality, or bleaching history. Kuffner explained that the study provides further evidence that the primary agents of coral mortality, mainly bleaching and coral disease, do not have to be the same as those preventing reef recovery. It is to the process of reef recovery that secondary stressors—like poor water quality and overfishing—are important.

posted: 2017-03-16

Local-scale ecosystem resilience amid global-scale ocean change: the coral reef exampleUSGS Powell Center coral reef working group to meet for 2nd workshop in Ft. Collins, Colorado, March 20–24, 2017

USGS Research Marine Biologist Ilsa Kuffner (SPCMSC), Research Ecologist Caroline Rogers (Caribbean Field Station), Research Oceanographer Lauren Toth (SPCMSC), and eleven other colleagues from around the world will meet to discuss and analyze existing datasets on coral reef status in concert with remotely sensed physical oceanographic data at the John Wesley Powell Center for Analysis and Synthesis. The working group’s goal is to uncover the geographic, biological, ecological, and physical features that characterize coral reef “oases” which have maintained populations of corals against a background of reef ecosystem degradation. For this second and final meeting of the working group, members will finish one manuscript and conduct analyses for a second that will assess the physical, biological, and oceanographic settings where areas qualifying as “reef oases” presently exist.

posted: 2017-03-16

Growing the right coral for the job: Fine tuning coral nursery techniques for coral-reef restoration

USGS Research Marine Biologist Ilsa Kuffner, Research Oceanographer Lauren Toth, Oceanographer Anastasios Stathakopoulos, and colleagues from NOAA and Mote Marine Tropical Laboratory published a research article in the journal Coral Reefs entitled "Plasticity in skeletal characteristics of nursery-raised staghorn coral, Acropora cervicornis." The Staghorn Coral is a threatened species and is the primary focus of reef restoration activities throughout Florida and the Caribbean. This study provides valuable new data demonstrating that the two most common rearing techniques used in offshore coral nurseries produce colonies with different skeletal characteristics. The results also indicate that variability in coral-calcification performance is genetically based. These results will be of great interest to coral restoration practitioners, reef conservationists, governmental resource managers, and other scientists in the field of coral reef research and restoration.

posted: 2017-03-08

USGS Scientist invited to speak at Claremont Colleges

Jennifer Flannery (Chemist, SPCMSC) will will travel to Claremont, California, to meet with undergraduate students working in the Marine Environmental Change Laboratory directed by Dr. Branwen Williams, at the W.M. Keck Science Department at Claremont McKenna - Pitzer - Scripps Colleges. Flannery will deliver a science seminar to students featuring ongoing coral research at the USGS SPCMSC, and will also provide training and guidance to students wishing to analyze calcium carbonate-producing organisms for trace elements using an inductively coupled plasma optical emission spectrometer.

posted: 2017-03-06

New USGS SPCMSC webpage launched: "Video Remote Sensing of Coastal Processes"

The SPCMSC National Assessment of Coastal Change Hazards (NACCH) group has released a new webpage, "Video Remote Sensing of Coastal Processes" under the primary "National Assessment of Storm-Induced Coastal Change Hazards" webpage. The new page describes how video remote sensing is being used to quantify a range of coastal processes and to monitor storm-induced hazards. The webpage also highlights recent snapshots updated hourly from a digital video camera installed at Madeira Beach, Florida, which is operated by the NACCH group.

posted: 2017-03-06

Lidar Coordinator to moderate sessions at IGTF 2017 ASPRS Annual Conference

Xan Fredericks, Lidar Coordinator for the Coastal and Marine Geology Program, will moderate the GIS Division sessions for the Imaging and Geospatial Technology Forum (IGTF) 2017 conference in Baltimore, MD, March 12–16, 2017. IGTF, presented by the American Society of Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing (ASPRS), is a technical conference with interactive discussions, hands-on workshops on emerging geospatial capabilities, and workflows to enhance integration of current technologies.

posted: 2017-03-06

USGS Researcher Co-Chairs Coral Microbiome Session

SPCMSC Research Microbiologist Christina Kellogg will attend the ASLO Aquatic Sciences Meeting in Honolulu, Hawaii, Feb. 26–Mar 3, 2017, to co-chair a coral microbiome session. She will give two talks: one about deep-sea coral microbiomes and one about careers with the USGS (

posted: 2017-02-23

USGS Scientists travel to Pacific Panama to study the impacts of climate on coral reefs

SCMSC Research Oceanographer Lauren Toth will leave this week for the first part of a bi-annual research expedition to study the coral reefs of Pacific Panama. On this trip, Toth will visit the Gulf of Chiriqui, a region that experienced severe coral bleaching and mortality in response to the 2015–16 El Niňo event. With the help of graduate students and academic collaborators Toth will re-survey a network of oceanographic and ecological monitoring stations designed to measure the long-term response of the reefs to this climatic disturbance.

posted: 2017-02-15

USGS Lidar Coordinator to attend International LiDAR Mapping Forum 2017

Xan Fredericks, Lidar Coordinator for the Coastal and Marine Geology Program, will attend the International LiDAR Mapping Forum (ILMF) 2017 conference in Denver, CO, February 13th–15th. ILMF ( is a technical conference and exhibition showcasing the latest airborne, terrestrial, and underwater lidar, as well as emerging remote-sensing and data collection tools and technologies. With special emphasis on data acquisition, fusion, integration, processing, and visualization, ILMF is especially useful for Asset Management, Civil Infrastructure, Coastal Zone Mapping, Emergency Services & Disaster Response, Land and Natural Resource Management, and Urban Modeling applications.

posted: 2017-02-01

USGS Lidar Coordinator to attend Coastal GeoTools 2017

Xan Fredericks, Lidar Coordinator for the USGS Coastal and Marine Geology Program, will attend the Coastal GeoTools 2017 conference in North Charleston, South Carolina, February 6th–9th. Coastal GeoTools ( is a conference dedicated to technology and the coastal environment, with an aim to find innovative, proven approaches to address coastal management issues, learn about the latest technologies, and build professional networks. Held since 1999, the biennial event is attended by planners, engineers, natural resource managers, geospatial analysts, and scientists from all sectors.

For more information, please contact Xan Fredericks,, 727-502-8086.

posted: 2017-01-27

New AGU journal article analyzes dune impacts during Hurricane Sandy

Researchers at the USGS St. Petersburg Coastal and Marine Science Center recently published a new paper (see “Testing model parameters for wave-induced dune erosion using observations from Hurricane Sandy”) that uses lidar data from before and after Hurricane Sandy to determine the impact to dunes along the coast of New Jersey, New York, and Maryland at over 800 beach profile locations. Based on these observations, the paper suggests potential improvements to numerical models currently used to predict dune evolution during storms.

posted: 2017-01-27

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