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Highlights from the 2017 AGU Fall Meeting
The annual Fall Meeting of the American Geophysical Union attracts more than 20,000 Earth and space scientists from around the globe. About 200 USGS researchers attended the conference, held December 11-15, 2017, in New Orleans, Louisiana, to give presentations to their peers, learn about cutting-edge science, and plan joint projects. We’ve highlighted some of the USGS coastal and marine presentations. Staff from the USGS Office of Communications and Publishing wrote these summaries for the meeting.
Undersea Methane Seeps on U.S. East Coast, John Pohlman
A comprehensive analysis of gas samples collected from near-seafloor methane seeps constrains natural gas origins on the U.S. Atlantic margin. Session OS11B-1133: Natural Gas Sources from Methane Seeps on the Northern U.S. Atlantic Margin
California Seafloor Mapping, Samuel Y. Johnson
New geospatial datasets have been collected in California’s state waters. Comprehensive seafloor and coastal maps and data are publicly available. New maps and data address a large range of environmental and geohazards issues. Success achieved through partnerships and leveraging of resources. Session OS14B-05: The California Seafloor Mapping Program — Providing Science and Geospatial Data for California’s State Waters.
Hurricane Lessons Learned, Peter Murdoch
As we recover from recent large storms, we need information to support increased environmental and socio-economic resilience of the nation’s coasts. The author discussed lessons learned from Hurricane Sandy and preliminary applications on the recent storms that could help define best-resilience practices before more costly mitigation or restoration efforts are required. Session NH23E-2881: Measuring and Building Resilience after Big Storms: Lessons Learned from Super-Storm Sandy for the Harvey, Irma, José, and Maria Coasts.
How the USGS Texas Water Science Center Handled Harvey, Sachin Shah
Hurricane Harvey posed an unprecedented challenge to quickly disseminate data on rapidly changing water conditions across Texas where the USGS has monitoring stations. The USGS handled more than 5 million data requests during the storm and delivered real-time scientific data to the National Weather Service, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, FEMA, Harris County Flood Control District, the public, and others. The author gave an overview of GovTech solutions used during Hurricane Harvey, the history of USGS tool development, the public response, and future applications to communicate science to the public. Session NH23E-2883: How Investment in #GovTech Tools Helped with USGS Disaster Response during Hurricane Harvey.
Change Along Alaska’s North Coast, Ann Gibbs
How fast are Arctic shorelines changing? Are they eroding faster in response to a warming Arctic climate? The USGS has assembled and analyzed shoreline positions for 4 eras (1940s, 1980s, 2000s, 2010s) along about 1,000 miles of the Alaskan coast from the U.S.-Canadian Border to Icy Cape. Session C31A-1159: Variability of Shoreline Change Rates along the North Coast of Alaska from the U.S. Canadian Border to Icy Cape.
Ancient Seafloor River Channel Offshore of the Delmarva Peninsula, Laura L. Brothers
Geophysical data, samples, photos, and video data from the Delmarva Peninsula’s inner continental shelf off the Delmarva Peninsula reveal ancient channels of the Delaware, Susquehanna, Potomac, and York Rivers. Mapping these paleochannels provides new insight into how coastal river systems evolve in tectonically passive margins. Session OS33C-08: Geologic Seafloor Mapping Defines Extensive Paleochannel Network Offshore of the Delmarva Peninsula, U.S.A: Implications for Mid-Atlantic Bight Evolution since the Pliocene.
Puerto Rico’s Landslides from Hurricane Maria, Corina Cerovski-Darriau
Heavy rainfall from Hurricane Maria caused widespread landslides in Puerto Rico’s mountains that impacted roads, bridges, and reservoirs—cutting off communities, hindering recovery, and affecting water quality and storage capacity. The USGS landslide response team remotely quantified the spatial density of landslides, then deployed to Puerto Rico to assess damage in the field. The author presented initial findings from work currently underway. Session NH34B-02: Does Geology Matter? Post-Hurricane Maria Landslide Distribution across the Mountainous Regions of Puerto Rico, USA.
1,000 Years of Monterey Bay Sediment, Valerie Schwartz
In Monterey Bay, California, seasonal upwelling of cold nutrient-rich waters from the California Current sustains a diverse and abundant marine phytoplankton community, serving as the base of the local marine ecosystem, and contributing to atmospheric carbon-dioxide fixation. The response of this productive area to future climate change remains uncertain. This study looked to examine the Monterey Bay sediment record over the last millennia to provide perspective on future changes. Session PP41C-1313: The Last 1000 Years of Ocean Change in Monterey Bay, California: Insights from the Marine Sedimentary Record.
A Tale of Two Rivers and Their Land-Building Sediments, Scott Mize
Researchers used suspended-sediment data for the Atchafalaya and lower Mississippi rivers to estimate land-building sediment loads and concentrations from 1980 through 2015. Annual sediment loads of both rivers declined by roughly half over that time, though there are signs the decline may be stabilizing. When river flows were high, sediment concentrations decreased in the Mississippi but increased in the Atchafalaya, suggesting the Atchafalaya Basin has a sediment source that the lower Mississippi lacks. This is relevant to efforts to restore the Mississippi River delta. Session H41F-1517: Decreasing Suspended Sediment Concentrations and Loads in the Lower Mississippi and Atchafalaya Rivers, 1980 through 2015.
Everglades Sea-Level Rise and Carbon Storage, Miriam Jones
Sea-level rise and climate have driven environmental changes in South Florida over geologic time. Researchers analyzed sediment cores dating back more than 5 million years from four islands in Florida Bay to determine how floral and faunal communities and source carbon changed because of sea-level rise during the past 12,000 years. These results will help inform how higher rates of sea-level rise will impact South Florida ecosystems and carbon cycling. Session B51N-04: Impact of Sea-Level Rise on Everglades Carbon Storage Capacity in the Holocene.
Rising Seas, Groundwater, and Sustainability on a Pacific Atoll, Ferdinand J. Oberle
Groundwater resources are a major factor in sustaining island settlements, but data are limited on how atoll aquifers will respond to sea level rise or storm-driven overwash. A 16-month study in the Marshall Islands documents the role of an atoll’s geology, land use, and atmospheric and oceanographic factors on coastal groundwater exchange. The information can help estimate water-supply recovery and resilience for similar islands expected to experience climate change-driven perturbations. Session H53L-05: Groundwater Movement on a Low-Lying Carbonate Atoll Island and Its Response to Climatic and Sea-Level Fluctuations: Roi Namur, Republic of the Marshall Islands.
These were just a few of the roughly 200 USGS talks and posters at the AGU 2017 Fall Meeting. For more information on a presentation, please contact the lead author.
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