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Lisa Robbins (USGS, St. Petersburg) participated in two conference sessions. Robbins was a panelist in a session called "Beach Literacy in America," with members from the Clean Beaches Council, the Pinellas County Health Department, and Sea Grant programs at the Virginia Institute of Marine Science and the University of Virginia. Discussion topics included beach water quality, habitat conservation, erosion management, safety education, and litter education and prevention. As an invited general-session speaker at the Florida Marine Research Institute, Robbins joined Peter Betzer from the College of Marine Science, University of South Florida (USF), to discuss the importance of "building bridges" between scientific research, the public, and students.
Educators toured the USGS facility in St. Petersburg, where they examined core samples in the sediment lab, touched corals, learned how to forecast hurricanes, and saw how easily ground water can be contaminated. The four hands-on scientific sessions gave educators the opportunity to ask USGS scientists questions and gather educational information. Dennis Krohn (USGS, St. Petersburg) gave an introductory presentation to the visitors. Jim Flocks (USGS, St. Petersburg) spoke in the sediment lab, where he had sections of "working" cores displayed to allow educators to see how variations in the sediment reflect the history of the Earth over thousands of years. He showed how cores are X-rayed, sliced, and archived and explained causes of subsidence in Louisiana (visit the USGS's St. Petersburg Science Center' Louisiana Projects Web page for more information).
Don Hickey (USGS, St. Petersburg) had a table of corals and educational materials, and an elaborate exhibit board for educators to examine. Hickey discussed USGS coral-reef research and diseases affecting reefs. Several educators wanted to know how the African dust theory played a role in the declining health of reefs (for more information, visit Coral Reef Studies and the Coral Mortality and African Dust).
Karen Morgan (USGS, St. Petersburg) gave an overview of Abby Sallenger's "National Assessment of Coastal Change Hazards" Web site. Morgan discussed how she forecasts the impacts of storms, using LIDAR (LIght Detection And Ranging) images from Hurricane Isabel as an example.
Ann Tihansky (USGS, Tampa, FL) spoke about ground-water contamination and water sources. The educators enjoyed watching a video that documented the discovery of wells and showed how carefully divers must maneuver through shallow underground waterways. Discussion focused on where, how, and why sinkholes are formed.
Brian Bossak (USGS, St. Petersburg) and Tara Miller (ETI Professionals contractor at USGS, St. Petersburg) together presented a session titled "Geographic Information Science: Applications to Coastal Hazard Research." Bossak gave an overview of geographic information systems (GIS) and their uses in coastal studies, LIDAR data and how it can be integrated within a GIS, and current work at the USGS (such as the development of a digital tool integrating GIS information, remote-sensing data, and storm parameters to estimate coastal storm impact; see Bossak's Mendenhall Fellowship Project Profile.) Miller discussed the completion of the Gulf of Mexico part of the National Assessment of Shoreline Change Project headed by USGS principal investigator Bob Morton. The project marks the first-ever analysis of historical shoreline change along the entire conterminous United States and parts of Alaska and Hawaii. The analysis looks at shoreline change from early maps made in the 1800s to today, using LIDAR measurements made as recently as 2002 (for more information, visit National Assessment of Shoreline Change.)
For more information about the NMEA 2004 Conference, visit the Florida Fish and Wildlife Research Institute's NMEA 2004 Conference Web page.
in this issue:
Marine Educators Conference
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