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News Briefs

News Briefs

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Photo of a scenic coast from the air10 Things You May Not Know About Our Coasts

June 15—Over 126 million people in the U.S., or 40 percent of the Nation’s total population, live in coastal counties. These coastal environments provide many benefits to their inhabitants, including both people and wildlife, and to the entire country. For example, coastal wetlands act as a natural defense against storm surge and also provide crucial food resources for waterfowl. However, coastal areas from Florida to Hawai'i and Alaska are threatened by changing conditions, such as rising seas, increasing water temperatures, more frequent extreme storms, and coastal erosion. Scientists with the National and Regional Climate Adaptation Science Centers (CASCs) are actively working to understand and monitor these impacts. Learn more about our work in these 10 examples. More: https://casc.usgs.gov/content/10-things-you-may-not-know-about-our-coasts

Still shot from video featuring Amy East, showing her against a backdrop of treesAmy East Elected GSA Fellow for Insights into Landscape Response to Changes in Sediment Supply

June 8, 2018—The Geological Society of America (GSA) elected USGS research geologist Amy East to be a GSA Fellow, “an honor bestowed on the best of our profession,” at the spring GSA Council meeting. Amy East was nominated by Jon Major of the USGS Cascades Volcano Observatory “for insightful research contributions that have extended fundamental understanding of landscape responses to changes in sediment supply in modern and ancient sedimentary systems." East’s research includes studies on how altered sediment supply affected Washington State’s Elwha River during and after removal of two large dams, how California coastal watersheds respond to extreme rainfall, how Glen Canyon Dam affects downstream river-borne and wind-driven sediment in the Grand Canyon, and how the sedimentary records of active plate margins get preserved or destroyed over long time scales. More: https://www.usgs.gov/center-news/amy-east-elected-gsa-fellow-insights-landscape-response-changes-sediment-supply

Satellite photo of the Gulf of MexicoAverage-sized Dead Zone Forecasted for the Gulf of Mexico

June 7—NOAA scientists are forecasting that this summer’s Gulf of Mexico hypoxic zone or ‘dead zone’—an area of low to no oxygen that can kill fish and other marine life—will be approximately 5,780 square miles, approximately the size of Connecticut. The forecast is based on nitrogen runoff and river discharge data from the USGS. The 2018 forecast is similar to the 33-year average Gulf dead zone of 5,460 square miles and is smaller than the 8,776 square mile 2017 Gulf dead zone, which was the largest dead zone measured since mapping began in 1985. “The Gulf’s recurring summer hypoxic zone continues to put important habitats and valuable fisheries at risk,” said Steve Thur, director of NOAA’s National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science. “Although there has been some progress in reducing nutrients, the overall levels remain high and continue to strain the region’s coastal economies.” More: https://www.usgs.gov/news/average-sized-dead-zone-forecasted-gulf-mexico

Photo of cliff erosion in Alaska New Study Provides the First Comprehensive, Long-term Look at Alaska’s Changing Ecosystems

May 29—New research has revealed significant changes to Alaska’s landscape in recent decades. During the past 32 years, about 13 percent of the state—67,000 square miles or an area larger than the state of Wisconsin—has changed, according to a new USGS-led study in collaboration with researchers from academia and other federal agencies. Alaska has experienced glacial retreat, shrub and treeline expansion, wildfires, erosion, pollution disturbances, and other changes over the last 32 years. Most of that change occurred in boreal regions due to the residual effects of fires that are still apparent after 60 years. “The upshot is that combined effects could push systems past tipping points and impact large areas, especially after fires,” said USGS scientist Bruce Wylie, who co-authored the study. Permafrost-dominated coasts of Alaska have drastically changed as the result of coastal transgression and storm-surge flooding which can result in the loss of cultural sites and damage to infrastructure. More: https://www.usgs.gov/news/new-study-provides-first-comprehensive-long-term-look-alaska-s-changing-ecosystems

Photo of fish passage site USGS Fish Passage Research Helps Fish Get to Spawning Grounds

May 25—The Blackstone River in Rhode Island is where one of the Nation’s first fish passages was built back in 1714 to help fish navigate past manmade obstructions so they could complete their instinctual migration cycles. More than 300 years later and not far from the original fish passage site there on the river, USGS researchers have been working with dam operators and other cooperators to expand scientific understanding of the effects these barriers and dams can have on migratory fish, and what can be done to maximize their chance to travel freely up and down rivers, to and from oceans. “As a core component of healthy streams and oceans, migratory fish play crucial roles in stable ecosystems for a lot of different reasons,” said Ted Castro-Santos, a research ecologist at the USGS Leetown Science Center. “The fact they are a major food source for so many different species is probably one of their most important roles.” More: https://www.usgs.gov/news/usgs-fish-passage-research-helps-fish-get-spawning-grounds

Photo of Elwha River Dam removal areaUSGS Partnership with Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe Featured in New Fact Sheet on Elwha River Dam Removals

May 24—The USGS has published a new Fact Sheet, “Science Partnership between U.S. Geological Survey and the Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe: Understanding the Elwha River Dam Removal Project.” Two large hydroelectric dams on the Elwha River in Washington State were removed in the period 2011–2014 to restore the river ecosystem and recover imperiled salmon populations. The new fact sheet summarizes findings by a multidisciplinary team of scientists from the Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe, the USGS, other agencies, universities, and non-governmental organizations who collected data before, during, and after dam removal. The 4-page fact sheet lists key lessons, details some impacts of dam removal on river sedimentation and the physical and biological makeup of the estuary and coast, and lists references with in-depth information. More: https://www.usgs.gov/center-news/usgs-partnership-lower-elwha-klallam-tribe-featured-new-fact-sheet-elwha-river-dam

Graphic of Contaminants of Emerging Concern in Great Lakes TributariesContaminants of Emerging Concern in Great Lakes Tributaries

May 16—A study conducted by USGS, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and St. Cloud State University characterized the presence of contaminants of emerging concern (CECs) and potential effects to fish in U.S. tributaries to the Great Lakes. Surface water and sediment samples were collected from 12 tributaries in Wisconsin, Illinois, Michigan, Ohio, and New York. CECs such as pharmaceuticals and flame retardants often co-occurred and were indicative of local point sources. Concentrations of some chemicals exceeded benchmarks, indicating that the potential to affect fish and/or macroinvertebrate health was likely. Concurrent with water sample collection, bluegill sunfish were assessed for indices indicative of contaminant exposure in 6 tributaries. Many of the fish showed signs of stress, however no direct relationship between adverse effects and specific CECs or classes of CECs was determined. Results from this study can help inform restoration and support management efforts within the Great Lakes Basin. More: https://mn.water.usgs.gov/about/newsletter/2018_Spring/

Photo of Kīlauea Volcano EruptingKīlauea Volcano Erupts

May 4—The Kilauea Volcano erupted in the Lower Puna district of Hawaiʻi, known as the "Big Island" of the Hawaiian Island chain, which is home to roughly 200,000 people and a haven for tourists and adventure seekers. As of mid-June, lava completely fills Kapoho Bay, extending more than 0.8 miles from the former coastline. This is a developing story, so please keep checking USGS web sites for daily updates. More: https://www.usgs.gov/news/k-lauea-volcano-erupts

For all USGS Coastal and Marine Geology Program news: https://go.usa.gov/xQBBE

For all USGS news: https://www.usgs.gov/news

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in this issue:

Cover Story USGS Hurricane Response Met Challenges in 2017, Prepares for 2018

News Brief
News Briefs

USGS NACCH Project Scientists Ready for 2018 Hurricane Season

Field Work
Recent Fieldwork

Most-Cited Award for Marine Geology Special Tsunami Issue

Staff amd Center News
USGS Seafloor-Mapping Expert Visits Institute in South Korea

June Publications

Accessibility FOIA Privacy Policies and Notices

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