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News Briefs

News Briefs

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Stills from 360-degree Videos of King Tides Show How Rising Seas Will Transform California Beaches in the Future USGS 360-degree Videos of King Tides Show How Rising Seas Will Transform California Beaches in the Future

February 8—USGS oceanographer Juliette Finzi Hart shot 360-degree videos of king tides-the highest high tides of the year-throughout the Los Angeles region in 2016 and 2017. Roughly a dozen times a year, king tides lap the shores high up on the beach; this will be the “normal” high tide in about 20 years, based on National Academy of Sciences sea-level rise projections. King tide videos provide a glimpse of the future, and they help USGS scientists fine-tune the Coastal Storm Modeling System (CoSMoS), which combines projected sea-level rise and storm intensities to forecast future coastal flooding. The CoSMoS team has been working with partners to develop immersive virtual reality and video products to help communities understand how coastal hazards and rising seas will alter California’s coastline. Previous products include the 2016 Santa Monica Pier Owl project, in which USGS CoSMoS simulations allowed people to see how Santa Monica beaches could be transformed in the future. More: https://marine.usgs.gov/news/archive.php#1214

Satellite photo shows how Water-Quality Monitoring Program Aids Restoration of Great Lakes Water-Quality Monitoring Program Aids Restoration of Great Lakes

February 7—A new water-quality monitoring program, established by the USGS, can provide scientists and managers with the best available data to help evaluate the health of Great Lakes ecosystems and improve water quality for recreation and commercial fishing. USGS scientists collected samples and used state-of-the-art sensors to gather water-quality data for 30 major Great Lakes tributaries. Using sophisticated scientific models to analyze the data, scientists were able to more accurately estimate the amounts, or loads, of sediment and nutrients entering the Great Lakes from tributaries than by using traditional techniques. “The approach we developed provides an enhanced understanding of short-term variability and long-term changes in the quality of water from tributaries,” said Dale Robertson, a USGS scientist and the lead author of the report. “Understanding inputs from these rivers is important because they can affect the environmental health of the Great Lakes.” More: https://www.usgs.gov/news/water-quality-monitoring-program-aids-restoration-great-lakes

Graphic depicts how Scientists Find Massive Reserves of Mercury Hidden in Permafrost Scientists Find Massive Reserves of Mercury Hidden on Permafrost

February 5—Researchers have discovered permafrost in the northern hemisphere stores massive amounts of natural mercury, a finding with significant implications for human health and ecosystems worldwide. In a new study, scientists measured mercury concentrations in permafrost cores from Alaska and estimated how much mercury has been trapped in permafrost north of the equator since the last Ice Age. The study reveals northern permafrost soils are the largest reservoir of mercury on the planet, storing nearly twice as much mercury as all other soils, the ocean and the atmosphere combined. “This discovery is a game-changer,” said Paul Schuster, a hydrologist at the USGS in Boulder, Colorado, and lead author of the new study. “We’ve quantified a pool of mercury that had not been done previously, and the results have profound implications for better understanding the global mercury cycle.” More: https://news.agu.org/press-release/scientists-find-massive-reserves-of-mercury-hidden-in-permafrost/

Photo of polar bear taken by bear wearing camera Polar Bears Film Their Own Sea-Ice World

February 1—In June of 2014, the USGS released the first-ever polar bear point-of-view footage, offering a never-seen-before perspective from the top Arctic predator. This clip garnered the most views ever for the USGS on YouTube, just over 400,000, and still growing. A just-published study in Science used videos recorded in 2014–2016 to shed more light on how much food polar bears need to survive. Although being able to glimpse these remarkable animals as they navigate their sea ice world was fascinating, the videos had a specific research function: USGS researchers, led by Anthony Pagano, were trying to learn about the behaviors and foraging rates of polar bears on the sea ice so ultimately, they could better understand how much food the bears need to be healthy and survive. More: https://www.usgs.gov/news/polar-bears-film-their-own-sea-ice-world

Graph depicting January 23, 2018 M7.9 Gulf of Alaska Earthquake and Tsunami water levels January 23, 2018 M7.9 Gulf of Alaska Earthquake and Tsunami

January 30—On January 23, 2018, at 12:31 a.m. local time, Alaskans were rocked by a magnitude 7.9 earthquake, with an epicenter in the Gulf of Alaska, about 350 miles southwest of Anchorage, and about 175 miles southeast of Kodiak Island. Four minutes later, Alaskans in coastal communities were awakened with blaring alarms when NOAA’s National Tsunami Warning Center sent out a Tsunami Warning for the state and the west coast of Canada based on the quake’s magnitude and its proximity to the coast. At the same time, a Tsunami Watch was issued for California, Oregon, and Washington. Ultimately, a small tsunami surge, less than one foot deep, was observed in Kodiak and smaller water-level increases occurred in other Alaskan coastal communities. A water-level rise of a few inches was detected four and a half hours later in Arena Cove, California. Three hours after the initial tsunami advisory was issued, NOAA canceled it. More: https://www.usgs.gov/news/january-23-2018-m79-gulf-alaska-earthquake-and-tsunami

Photo of scientists explaining equipment to Elementary School Students Visiting USGS Office in Santa Cruz Elementary School Students Visit USGS Office in Santa Cruz

January 29—On January 17, 4th and 5th graders from De Laveaga Elementary School visited the USGS Pacific Coastal and Marine Science Center in Santa Cruz, California. Center scientists guided three groups of about 25 students each, plus teachers and parent chaperones, through three exhibit areas. Rob Wyland introduced the students to seismic-reflection equipment and seafloor-mapping techniques in the center’s Marine Facility. Helen Gibbons and Andy Ritchie showed them how scientists use computers and special software to turn aerial photos into 3D maps of the California coast, enabling center scientists to monitor a huge landslide in Big Sur. Tour organizer Carol Reiss shared her enthusiasm for geology as she used fossils, basic rock types, and paper models to illustrate geologic principles and showed the students what it’s like to explore the seafloor from inside a submersible. More: https://marine.usgs.gov/news/archive.php#1198

text USGS Expertise and Science Leads to Ballast Water Management Solutions

December 31—When ships take on ballast water, plants and animals that live in the ocean are also picked up. When the ships enter port, and the ballast water is released to accommodate the loading of cargo, nonindigenous species can be introduced into local waters. In 2009, a collaborative effort between the USGS and the National Park Service was initiated to address the challenges of ballast water treatment in the Great Lakes. Through this multi-disciplinary collaboration, the team came up with a relatively inexpensive and time effective method to treat ballast water without compromising the stability of the ship. “I hope that this technology will help minimize the impact nonindigenous species have on our ecosystem,” said Noah Adams, a USGS research fishery biologist. “It was rewarding to be able to play a role in developing a relatively simple and inexpensive solution to a complex challenge.” More: https://wfrc.usgs.gov/newsletter/Issue5.12December2017.pdf

For all USGS Coastal and Marine Geology Program news, see: https://marine.usgs.gov/news/
For all USGS news, see: https://www.usgs.gov/news
Or follow us on Facebook: @coastalandoceanscience, @USGeologicalSurvey; and Twitter: @USGSCoastChange, @USGS

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in this issue:

Cover Story Giant Grooves Discovered on an Earthquake Fault Offshore Costa Rica

News Brief
News Briefs

Pacific Missile Tracking Site Could Be Unusable Soon Due to Climate Change

A Tale of Two Tsunamis—Mexico 2017 and Alaska 2018

The USGS Coastal and Marine Geology Data Catalog

Field Work
Recent Fieldwork

Staff amd Center News
Scientists, Volunteers Rescue Cold-Stunned Sea Turtles

New Study Links Salinity Changes to Changes in Rainfall Patterns

Feb. Publications

Accessibility FOIA Privacy Policies and Notices

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