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

Scientists to Attend "Reef Futures 2018" Symposium on Reef Restoration

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 will travel to Key Largo, FL, December 10 to 14 to attend "Reef Futures 2018: A Coral Restoration and Intervention-Science Symposium." This global conference will bring together over 400 leading scientists and experts from more than 30 countries. USGS involvement in the symposium includes Kuffner as Co-Chair of the Science Program Planning Committee, a concurrent session presenter, and a plenary speaker during the symposium closing remarks. Toth and Stathakopoulos will both present research findings during concurrent sessions. The USGS researchers will be presenting scientific results to guide the management and restoration of coral-reef ecosystems. The work presented will highlight the geological significance of reefs as protectors of coastal communities and how information on the Holocene fossil record can be used to inform what species and where to restore coral reefs.

posted: 2018-12-06

USGS researchers sample sediments from Lake Enriquillo in the Dominican Republic in 2018.Scientists Initiate new project to reconstruct Caribbean rainfall history in the Dominican Republic

A team of three USGS scientists, Julie Richey (USGS-Research Geologist); Jennifer Flannery (USGS-Chemist); and Jessica Rodysill (USGS-Research Geologist), and a collaborator from the University of Puerto Rico, Wilson Ramirez (UPRM-Professor of Geology), travelled to the far western border of the Dominican Republic to sample sediments from Lake Enriquillo. Lake Enriquillo is a hypersaline lake located on the border of the Dominican Republic and Haiti. It is a potentially important archive of paleoclimate information, capable of revealing the frequency and magnitude of rainfall changes over the past 5 millennia. The level of the lake has changed rapidly over the past decade, causing large socio-economic and ecological impacts in Hispañola. It has led to the necessity to relocate villages and roads. Local stakeholders are interested in knowing the scale of lake-level changes prior to the observational period, and in understanding how those changes are related to climate patterns in the Caribbean.

posted: 2018-11-29

Pilots from the USGS collect imagery data using Unmanned Aerial System, while personnel from the WARC conduct ground-based site surveys of Pelican Island, Alabama.Wintering bird habitat and species monitoring fieldwork at Dauphin Island, Alabama

The ability to connect elevation and habitat characteristics used by wintering shorebirds has been identified as beneficial to conservation and restoration planning by management entities such as the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service. To address this need and support decisions in barrier island management, the St. Petersburg Coastal and Marine Science Center, the Wetland and Aquatic Research Center, and the Woods Hole Coastal and Marine Science Center are collaborating on an effort to develop a probabilistic model that can predict wintering bird use based on habitat characteristics. A field data collection campaign is planned for December, 2018, as part of monthly monitoring in support of that effort at Dauphin Island, Alabama. Data collected will include UAS-based imagery that will be used to determine elevation and habitat characteristics; in situ vegetation and elevation data; and a wintering bird census. These data will also be used to advance techniques in deriving habitat data from UAS (Unmanned Aircraft Systems).

posted: 2018-11-15

USGS scientists publish study documenting recent wetland-changes along Maryland and Virginia coastline

USGS scientists Julie Bernier and Kathryn Smith (SPCMSC) and Steven Douglas (Cherokee Nation Technologies) published a paper "Analysis of multi-decadal wetland changes and cumulative impact of multiple storms, 1984 to 2017" in the journal Wetlands Ecology and Management. This study analyzed Landsat satellite imagery to document historical and recent (post-Hurricane Sandy) wetland changes that occurred along the Maryland and Virginia coastlines since 1984. This study was part of the post-Hurricane Sandy Barrier Island and Estuarine Wetland Physical Change Assessment.

posted: 2018-11-14

Shell Ocean Discovery XPRIZEUSGS researcher judges final round of Shell Ocean Discovery XPRIZE competition in Kalamata, Greece

The Shell Ocean Discovery XPRIZE is a $7 million global competition challenging teams to push the boundaries of ocean technologies by creating solutions that advance the autonomy, scale, speed, depths, and resolution of ocean exploration. In order to have a judge on site for the duration of the final trials, held in Kalamata, Greece, the 7-member international judging panel will take turns, each covering a week to ten-day period. Dr. Christina Kellogg (Research Microbiologist, SPCMSC) will be the on-site judge during the week of November 19–24, 2018. In this final field-testing round for the Grand Prize of the Shell Ocean Discovery XPRIZE competition, which starts in November and runs through December, the teams have up to 24 hours to map at least 250 km2 of the ocean seafloor (an area that is nearly three times the area of Paris) to depths down to 4,000 meters—a cold, dark, and high-pressure environment that is more than twice as deep as the Grand Canyon. The success of this prize will allow us to fully explore and map the ocean floor, and uncover our planet's greatest wonders and resources for the benefit of humanity. XPRIZE, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, is the global leader in designing and implementing innovative competition models to solve the world's grandest challenges. XPRIZE utilizes a unique combination of gamification, crowdsourcing, incentive prize theory, and exponential technologies as a formula to make 10x (vs. 10%) impact in the grand challenge domains facing our world.

To watch a video describing the competition, visit

posted: 2018-11-08

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