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

USGS scientist explains how personal watercraft are used to collect data at Science Fest 2017USGS St. Petersburg Coastal and Marine Science Center and Wetland and Aquatic Research Center Continue Involvement in Annual St. Petersburg Science Festival

Scientists from SPCMSC and WARC will lead children, families, and the public in hands-on activities to learn about USGS science at this year's St. Petersburg Science Festival and School Day, October 19–20 (http://www.stpetescifest.org/). The expo is a free, public celebration of science featuring a wide range of engaging, interactive science, technology, engineering, and math-related (STEM) activities. USGS has been a key contributor to this event, now in its eighth year. The two-day event includes a School Day Sneak Peek, which provides elementary school students from around the county the opportunity to gain hands-on experience in a variety of STEAM activities, and the Festival, which is open to the public. This event is held in conjunction with MarineQuest, the annual open house of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission's Fish and Wildlife Research Institute.
For more information, contact Kaitlin Kovacs.

posted: 2018-10-17

forecast of coastal change for Hurricane MichaelHurricane surge likely to erode 75% of Florida Panhandle beaches

Hurricane Michael, which is forecast to make landfall Wednesday as a Category 3 hurricane, is very likely to cause erosion at the base of sand dunes along about three-fourths of the Florida Panhandle beaches, and to inundate more than one-fourth of that coast's dunes, causing flooding behind the protective dune line, according to coastal change experts at the U.S. Geological Survey. Read the news release and visit the USGS Hurricane Michael page at https://www.usgs.gov/special-topic/hurricane-michael.posted: 2018-10-09

USGS Southeast Region Workshop: Documenting the multiple facets of a subsiding landscape from coastal cities and wetlands to the continental shelf

The USGS SPCMSC hosted the Southeast Region (SER) FLEX-funds workshop on subsidence research September 26th and 27th, 2018. Land subsidence is a natural hazard that occurs throughout the southeast region and is often observed as ground collapse in karst environments (sinkholes), coastal wetland loss, and flooding in urban areas. Human activities such as fluid extraction and landscape alteration contribute to these processes; however, a systematic approach to recognize and develop informed responses to the drivers of subsidence has not been fully developed. FLEX-funds are provided by the SER to support the gathering of an interdisciplinary team of scientists, "flex-teams," to promote regional communication and scientific collaboration. The goal of the workshop was to review subsidence-related research and technologies and create a unifying framework for describing the processes driving land subsidence and its impacts on the environments and coastal communities. This workshop brought together USGS scientists from a variety of disciplines to identify current strengths and weakness in subsidence-related research and to develop a robust approach for informing management decisions affecting coastal communities and infrastructure.

posted: 2018-10-04

(A) USGS monitoring station showing threatened Elkhorn Coral (Acropora palmata) at Dry Tortugas National Park, and (B) a healthy thicket of Elkhorn CoralNew coral reef study to begin at Buck Island National Park Service unit on St. Croix

A team of three scientists from St. Petersburg Coastal & Marine Science Center; Research Marine Biologist Ilsa Kuffner, Research Oceanographer Lauren Toth, and Oceanographer Anastasios Stathakopoulos, traveled to Buck Island Reef National Monument on a reconnaissance trip to plan a new study and to assess hurricane impacts to the coral reefs surrounding Buck Island. Buck Island Reef National Monument is currently experiencing structural degradation of critical coral reef habitat and concomitant shoreline erosion. A warmer ocean has already caused large areas of coral to die from bleaching and subsequent disease, and shoreline lost to potentially related erosion already totals more than 8 acres. This new study will estimate the effects of climate-change related stressors on coral growth using a method developed by the USGS (see figure), predict the rate of reef loss and habitat reduction in relation to shoreline change, and model responses of the reef-to-coastline system. This work was funded through the NPS Natural Resource Stewardship and Science funding source, and will be used by NPS to prioritize areas for increased protection and restoration efforts. The study addresses a pressing priority for the Park's Resource Management team and addresses the Caribbean Landscape Conservation Cooperative's identified top stressors affecting Caribbean coastal habitats and cultural resources.

posted: 2018-10-04

CMHRP Lidar Coordinator invited to present at URISA GIS-Pro 2018 Conference

Xan Fredericks, Lidar Coordinator for the Coastal and Marine Hazards and Resources Program, has been invited as a subject matter expert to present a fundamental overview of GIS Conceptual Foundations, as well as Cartography & Visualization, at the 56th Annual URISA GIS-Pro Conference in Palm Springs, California, Oct. 8–10, 2018. URISA is a multi-disciplinary geospatial organization that provides professional education and training, a vibrant and connected community, advocacy for geospatial challenges and issues, and essential resources. URISA fosters excellence in GIS and engages geospatial professionals throughout their careers.

posted: 2018-09-21

Microbial removal of nitrogen and phosphorus from surface water recharged into the Upper Floridan Aquifer

Dr. John Lisle (Research Microbial Ecologist, SPCMSC) is currently being funded by South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD) to characterize the rates of microbial removal of nitrates, nitrites, ammonium, and phosphorus from treated water from the Kissimmee River that will be recharged into the Upper Floridan Aquifer (UFA). This study is providing novel data on the ability of microorganisms native to the UFA and introduced in the treated recharge water to remove nutrients during storage at aquifer storage and recovery (ASR) facilities near Lake Okeechobee. The data from this study are being considered by state regulatory agencies for assignment of water quality improvement criteria to the storage phase of recharged water at ASR facilities. Dr. Lisle presented a webinar to South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD) personnel in West Palm Beach, Florida, and Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FL DEP) personnel in Tallahassee, Florida, describing recent research findings on the removal of nitrates, nitrites, and phosphorus from recharged water during the storage in the Upper Floridan Aquifer.

posted: 2018-09-13

Meeting on impact of infrastructure on occurrence and persistence of harmful algal blooms in South Florida

Dr. John Lisle (Research Microbial Ecologist, SPCMSC) was an invited panel member, participating in an open discussion on the occurrence and persistence of harmful algal blooms in south Florida with Florida State Senator Glavano. The panel also included University of South Florida faculty members Dr. Valerie Harwood, Dr. Mark Raines, Dr. Sarina Ergas, Dr. David Lewis, Dr. George Phillippdis, and Dr. Mahmood Nachabe. The discussion focused on existing and prospective infrastructure projects that contribute to or mitigate harmful algal blooms in the watersheds associated with Lake Okeechobee and those leading to both coasts. Dr. Lisle discussed his recent research findings that during the storage phase of an aquifer storage and recovery (ASR) cycle, nitrogen and phosphorus concentrations in the recharged water are significantly reduced, providing a higher quality water upon recovery and discharge back into Lake Okeechobee.

posted: 2018-09-13

potential coastal change impacts from FlorenceElevated water levels from Hurricane Florence likely to impact Southeast Atlantic beaches and dunes for several days

The USGS Coastal Change Hazards storm team is predicting coastal change impacts due to the potential for high waves and storm surge along the Southeast Atlantic coast. In North Carolina where Florence is predicted to make landfall, 75% of sandy beaches are likely to erode and 15% of dunes are likely to overwash. Forecasts showing the timing and magnitude of elevated water levels at the shoreline in the Total Water Level and Coastal Change Forecast Viewer are predicting that water levels will be elevated for several days, increasing the likelihood of overwash and inundation as dunes are eroded through time.

Predictions will be updated as conditions change and are available in the Coastal Change Hazards Portal.

posted: 2018-09-11

Big Bend Coastal Mapping Prioritization Workshop in Cedar Key, Florida

The USGS, FWRI, and FIO, as part of the Florida Coastal Mapping Program (FCMaP), are leading a coastal and seafloor mapping prioritization workshop on Sept. 7, 2018, with stakeholders from 20 different Federal, State, County, and academic entities. The group will utilize a new tool developed by NOAA and FWRI to indicate which areas of the seabed, from the shore to the shelf edge, are most important for high resolution elevation data collection. The different entities participating will populate the tool and the results will be analyzed for spatial and temporal priorities. Cheryl Hapke (Research Geologist), Jim Flocks (Research Geologist), and Kathryn Smith (Ecologist) from the SPCMSC will attend in person, and Xan Fredericks (Cartographer/Lidar Coordinator) will attend via webinar. The workshop is the first of 6 regional workshops that will be held around the State of Florida as part of the FCMaP strategy for facilitating the collection of modern high-resolution elevation information for all of Florida's coastal waters in the next decade. The series of workshops were formulated during a stakeholder workshop in January, 2018, during which an existing data inventory and gap analysis were presented. The stakeholder group indicated that the Big Bend Region was a high-priority area due to the paucity of high-resolution bathymetry for the area.

posted: 2018-09-06

CMHRP Lidar Coordinator invited to be Keynote Speaker at the 2018 Ohio GIS Conference

Xan Fredericks, Lidar Coordinator for the Coastal-Marine Hazards and Resources Program, was invited by the Ohio Chapter of the Urban and Regional Information Systems Association (URISA), along with the County Engineers Association of Ohio (CEAO) and Ohio Geographically Referenced Information Program (OGRIP), to be the featured Keynote Speaker for the 2018 Ohio GIS Conference. The keynote is titled "Why GIS Matters to the USGS Coastal-Marine Hazards and Resources Program" to compliment this year's conference theme, "GIS Matters." The 2018 Ohio GIS Conference will be held September 24–26 at the Hyatt Regency in Columbus. The annual event typically has more than 400 professionals in attendance to learn about the newest trends of geospatial technology. To find out more about the conference, see the conference website.

posted: 2018-09-06

Graphic image depicting reef accretion and erosion from the past 8000 years to the present.USGS publication shows that the growth of Florida's coral reefs stalled 3000 years ago

A USGS study published last week in the journal Global Change Biology suggests that the growth of coral reefs in the Florida Keys has been negligible for at least 3000 years and they have been poised at a tipping point between persistence and erosion ever since. SPCMSC scientists Lauren Toth (Research Oceanographer), Ilsa Kuffner (Research Marine Biologist), and Anastasios Stathakopoulos (Oceanographer), and emeritus scientist Eugene Shinn (University of South Florida) studied 46 coral-reef cores from the USGS Core Archive, collected throughout the 200-mile reef tract, and found that about 6,000 years ago, long-term cooling of ocean water off Florida brought more winter cold spells that repeatedly killed off Keys corals. Although the reefs stopped growing towards sea level, they kept a veneer of living corals and were able to support other marine life, which protected the reefs against erosion and provided essential ecosystem services. Recently however, coral bleaching, diseases, and other anthropogenic disturbances have caused significant declines in coral cover, and Florida's reefs are now rapidly eroding away. As a result, the critical reef structure that was built over thousands of years is at risk of being lost.

posted: 2018-08-30

USGS scientists travel to Seven Mile Island in New Jersey to conduct nearshore geophysical survey

SPCMSC personnel Jennifer Miselis (Research Geologist), Julie Bernier (Geologist), Nancy DeWitt (Geologist), Andy Farmer (CNT), Jake Fredericks (Hydrographic Technician), Kyle Kelso (Marine Operations Manager), BJ Reynolds (Engineering Technician), Chelsea Stalk (CNT), and Hunter Wilcox (CNT) will travel to southern New Jersey to conduct a nearshore geophysical survey. The survey will take place from 4–25 September 2018 along Seven Mile Island, NJ, which was impacted by Hurricane Sandy in 2012. The work is funded by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) and supports an ongoing assessment of the effectiveness of post-Sandy coastal restoration projects. The objective of the field effort is to measure seafloor elevations and sub-seafloor geology in water depths of 0 to ~15 m in order to quantify changes in shoreface sediment availability. The crew will use two personal watercraft equipped with echosounders to map very shallow surf zone seafloor elevations and a high-resolution multibeam bathymetry system to map seafloor elevations in the region between ~0.5 to 2km offshore. Shoreface geology will be mapped using an Edgetech 512i which will be launched from the beach and then subsequently towed by SPCMSC Research Vessel (R/V) Sallenger. This survey is the first of three surveys planned as part of the project.

posted: 2018-08-30

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