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USGS science at American Geophysical Union conference, San Francisco, December 13-17
Released: 12/10/2010 4:49:55 PM

Contact Information:
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SAN FRANCISCO­ —  The U.S. Geological Survey participates in the American Geophysical Union's fall meeting with hundreds of technical presentations.  Selected here are some highlights of USGS science at AGU. Tips about the technical sessions are presented in chronological order with session numbers, and room numbers in Moscone Convention Center (either Moscone South, MS, or Moscone West, MW). For more information, visit the 2010 AGU Fall meeting website.

News media representatives are invited to visit the USGS booth in the AGU Exhibit Hall. This is an easy place to connect with USGS data, publications, and information.

USGS participation in AGU press conferences:
(all AGU press conferences are scheduled in Room 3000  Moscone West)

Monday, 12/13, 5 p.m.
Forest tipping points and climate change in southwestern US
Craig Allen
If temperature and aridity rise as projected, the worrisome forecast suggested for southwestern forests includes slower-growing trees, more severe fires, more bark beetle outbreaks, a lot more dead trees, and big changes in where various trees species are dominant in southwestern U.S. forests.

Tuesday, 12/14, 9 a.m.
Ice volcanoes on Titan
Randolph Kirk
Topography on Saturn's moon Titan that makes the best case yet for an ice volcano on Titan and reveals the most Earth-like volcano in the outer solar system.

Tuesday, 12/14, 11 a.m.
Carbon consumption and Earth’s carrying capacity
Jennifer Harden
Increasing consumption of Earth’s plant material raises questions about carrying capacity, biodiversity, landscapes, imbalances, and vulnerabilities to climate change.

Wednesday, 12/15, 11 a.m.
Volcanic ash and aviation
Tom Casadevall and Marianne Guffanti
The eruption of Eyjafjallajökull volcano earlier this year brought questions of volcanic ash and global aviation traffic to the forefront. How can science help shape aviation safety policy?

Thursday, 12/16, 9 a.m.
The last Arctic sea-ice refuge?
George Durner
Arctic ocean circulation models suggest enough ice would accumulate in an area of the Canadian Archipelago and northern Greenland to potentially serve as a refuge for polar bears as Arctic sea ice is otherwise projected to decline.

USGS town hall meeting and customer listening session
Seeking your help to shape the development of our 10-year strategic science plans

Talking Hazards: A dialogue on the future of USGS Natural Hazards science, Thursday, 12/16, 12:30-1:30 p.m., MW 3006

Talking Water: A dialogue on the future of USGS Water science Thursday, 12/16, 6:15-7:30 p.m., Courtyard San Francisco Hotel, 299 Second St, Rincon Hill Room, 2nd Floor

AGU recognizes USGS scientists:
Wednesday, 12/15, 7- 9 p.m. 
AGU's 2010 honors ceremony, San Francisco Marriott Marquis, Yerba Buena Ballroom
John R. Filson will receive the Edward A. Flinn III Award, given to an “individual who personifies the AGU’s motto ‘unselfish cooperation in research’ through their facilitating, coordinating, and implementing activities.” 

Carol Kendall is elected to AGU Fellowship this year

Finn named AGU President-elect

Dr. Carol A. Finn, a USGS geophysicist, was recently named President-elect of AGU. Finn, an AGU member since 1980 and USGS scientist since 1978, will be the third female president of the 91-year-old organization, and third USGS employee to hold the post.

Bowie lecture (invited)
MS, Gateway Ballroom, 103, Tuesday, 12/14, 4:05 – 5 p.m.
Ultra-High Resolution Four Dimension Imaging Across the Earth Sciences
Gerald Bawden
A 3-D presentation about ground-based or terrestrial LIDAR at the forefront of scientific applications that allows visualization of natural processes in ultra-high resolution like never before, from glacial retreat to earthquake-induced land surface changes.

Technical Sessions

Monday, 12/13, 8 a.m., MS Poster Hall
Aerial surveys using consumer electronics
David Lynch
Using a Nikon D90 with a GPS device attached, scientists obtained over 5000 high-resolution photographs of the San Andreas Fault, which had been revealed by wildfire.

Monday, 12/13, 8 a.m., MS Poster Hall
Modeling lahar hazards within Lassen Volcanic National Park
Joel Robinson
The 1915 Lassen Peak eruption generated lahars flowed north into Lost Creek and Hat Creek, Ca. Geologic mapping of these deposits is used to guide an assessment of present-day lahar inundation zones.

Monday, 12/13, 8 a.m., MS Poster Hall
Corn-based feedstock for biofuels: Implications for agricultural sustainability 
Zhengxi Tan
Increasing demand for renewable energy and the potential for use of corn stover, or the leaves, stalks, and husks left as residue after harvest, as biofuel in the U.S. raise concerns about the agricultural sustainability of corn stover. USGS scientists examine the minimum residue level required to maintain soil fertility and the maximum amount of raw stover harvestable for biofuels in the future.

(Note: Those interested in this presentation may also be interested in H51D-0934: "Different Effects of Corn Ethanol and Switchgrass-Based Biofuels on Soil Erosion and Nutrients Loads in the Iowa River Basin," B23D-0412: "Ecosystem performance assessment for grasslands in the Greater Platte River Basin: implications for cellulosic biofuel development," and/or H51G-09: “Effects of the Biofuels Initiative on water quality and quantity in the Mississippi alluvial plain”)

Monday, 12/13, 8 a.m., MS Poster Hall
Lava flow risk on Mauna Loa
Frank Trusdell
Mauna Loa will undoubtedly erupt again and emergency managers will need to know the areas threatened with inundation, lava flow frequency, and the people, property, and facilities at risk. USGS scientists have prepared a geologic map, with probabilities of lava flow inundation, calculated for different sectors of the volcano.

Monday, 12/13, 8 a.m. MS 104
The 12 January 2010 M7.0 Haiti earthquake
co-chaired by USGS seismologist Susan Hough
In the 11 months since the devastating earthquake in Haiti, USGS scientists have spent months on the ground installing instruments, monitoring aftershocks, learning more about the quake, and defining the hardest hit areas, leading to a safer future for Haiti.

8:15 a.m.
The role of science and engineering in rebuilding a more resilient Haiti
David Applegate

The Enriquillo-Plantian Garden Fault in Haiti: Geologically recent offsets and seismic hazard
Carol Prentice

Monday, 12/13, 2:55 p.m., MW 2002
Methylmercury production across San Francisco Bay regional habitats
Mark C. Marvin-DiPasquale
Results of more than a decade of methylmercury research in the San Francisco Bay, which are widely applicable to other diverse freshwater, estuarine, and coastal environments suggest that microbial iron-reduction may play a larger role then previously thought with respect to methylmercury production across a diverse range of estuarine habitats.

Monday, 12/13, 4 p.m., MW 3018
Water security – National and global issues
James Tindall 
Devising concepts and counter measures to protect water supplies will assist the public, policy makers, and planners at local, Tribal, State, and Federal levels to develop solutions for national and international water-security and sustainability issues. Disruption of water supplies by man-made, natural, and technological hazards could threaten the delivery of vital human services, endanger public health and the environment, potentially cause mass casualties, and threaten population sustainability, social stability, and homeland security.

(Note: See also H21A-1013, "Energy—Water Interdependence," Moran)

Monday, 12/13, 4 p.m., MS 104
USGS scientists in the Deepwater Horizon oil spill: Making a difference
USGS Director Marcia McNutt
From the first call to action after the discovery of the underwater oil discharge, the USGS has been at the forefront addressing the research and information needs for this disaster. USGS geospatial experts, biologists, geologists, and geophysicists played a crucial role helping the nation understand and ultimately shut down the failed well. With the imminent danger removed, USGS coastal and marine geologists continue to work on the oil budget, refining models for the sinks of oil in the environment and the time scales over which oil remains an environmental hazard.

Tuesday, 12/14, 8 a.m., MS Poster Hall
Fire in the Mojave Desert: The role of microtopography on floral re-establishment following fire
Chris Soulard
A groundbreaking use of terrestrial LiDAR technology to determine the impact of fire on desert flora, which can be used by land-use managers and policy makers to make prudent decisions related to critical desert changes.

Tuesday, 12/14, 8 a.m., MS Poster Hall
Carbon sequestration rates and the energy balance of turf in the Denver urban ecosystem and in an adjacent native grassland under contrasting management practices
Dean E. Anderson
Well watered, fertilized lawns in metropolitan Denver were found to sequester, or capture, substantially more carbon than nearby native grassland over a growing season. These findings are significant because lawns are the largest irrigated crop in the U.S., and urban areas and the associated number of lawns are rapidly expanding.

Tuesday, 12/14, 8 a.m., MS Poster Hall
El Nino’s effect on agriculture in Guatemala
Diego Pedreros
Scientists looked at the effects of El Nino on rainfall patterns at regional scales and specifically measured the effects on agricultural water balances in Guatemala. The study builds on rainfall and water balance modeling techniques developed by the Famine Early Warning Systems Network.

Tuesday, 12/14, 10:20 a.m., MS 310
Sediment budget for a polluted Hawaiian reef using hillslope monitoring and process mapping
Jonathan Stock
Pollution from coastal watersheds threatens the ecology of tropical reefs. Changing land uses have accelerated erosion rates, leading to toxic levels of sediment off the reefs of Molokai, Hawaii. USGS scientists are using advanced remote sensing and sensor networks on the ground to map the sources and quantify the rates of this erosion, in an effort to forecast the effects of climate change on sediment loading to reefs.

Tuesday, 12/14, 1:40 p.m., MS Poster Hall
Mercury export from the Yukon river basin
Paul Schuster
In response to a warming climate in Northern regions, permafrost is thawing, becoming a potential significant pool of mercury that had not been previously considered under changing climatic conditions. Mercury is a ubiquitous pollutant posing a serious threat to human health and aquatic biota.

Wednesday, 12/15, 8 a.m., MS Poster Hall
Arctic exploration
New information from Arctic Ocean seafloor mapping, seismic-reflection profiling, and seafloor sampling undertaken by Arctic nations to determine where they might have sovereign rights.

Poster 2128:
A new look at Northwind Ridge: Implications for the history of the Canada Basin

Debbie Hutchinson

Poster 2124:
Gravity and magnetic anomalies of the western Arctic Ocean and its margins provide an imperfect window to a complex, multi-stage tectonic history
Richard Saltus

Wednesday, 12/15, 8:00 a.m., MS Poster Hall
How much water does Africa have?
Gabriel B. Senay
For the first time ever, a water balance for Africa has been developed – which is the first step in being able to manage water resources. A lack of consistent data or access to important data such as rainfall, stream flow and evapotranspiration has been a barrier to developing an Africa-wide water atlas in the past. Scientists used globally available and consistent weather and remotely-sensed datasets to develop the water balance estimation.

Wednesday, 12/15, 1:40 p.m., MS Poster Hall
Is the rate of global tsunami occurrence increasing?
Eric Geist
Examining the variation in the number of tsunamis that occur every year in an effort to develop short-term tsunami forecasts.

Wednesday, 12/15, 1:40 p.m., MS Poster Hall
Outstanding issues in the assessment of Enhanced Geothermal Systems resources
Colin Williams
The successful implementation of Enhanced Geothermal Systems technology has the potential to dramatically expand both the magnitude and spatial extent of geothermal energy production, and the USGS has been working to develop a comprehensive EGS resource assessment for the U.S. However, a number of outstanding scientific and technical issues must be resolved in order to ensure the accuracy and reliability of this assessment.

Thursday, 12/16, 9:25 a.m., MW 2002
Coal-tar pavement sealant: A PAH source indoors and out
Barbara Mahler
The coal-tar-based pavement sealant used on parking lots, driveways, and playgrounds is the largest source of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons in house dust and lake sediment studied by the USGS.  Several PAHs are probable human carcinogens, and they are toxic to fish and other aquatic life.

Thursday, 12/16, 1:40 p.m., MS Poster Hall
River regulation’s effect on aeolian landscapes in the Grand Canyon
Amy Draut
A 7-year study examined the effects of river regulation at Glen Canyon Dam and provides strong evidence that regulation affects landscape evolution even above the high water line. Hear why it is likely that, if current operations at Glen Canyon Dam (with occasional controlled floods) continue, greater differences between modern and ancient landscapes in the Grand Canyon will occur.

Thursday, 12/16, 1:40 p.m., MS Poster Hall
Gigapixel panoramas of Glacier National Park
Daniel B. Fagre
New high-resolution, interactive images of glaciers at Glacier National Park are available through the use of a robotically controlled camera system. The Gigapan system is used to capture panoramic images of glaciers, which can be georeferenced in Google Earth, and embedded in websites. These images build upon USGS repeat photographs of glaciers used to vividly document their rate of disappearance.

Thursday, 12/16, MW 2020
Volcanology 2010 - 2020: the next decade in volcano science

1:55 p.m. Punctuated evolution of volcanology: An observatory perspective
Bill Burton and John Eichelberger

2:10 p.m. Challenges to integrating geographically-dispersed data and expertise at U.S. Volcano Observatories
Tom Murray and John Ewert

2:40 p.m. The international Volcano Distaster Assistance Program — Past and future
John Ewert and John Pallister

Thursday, 12/16, MW 3010
Transmitting hazard science to end users: what works, what doesn't, and what's needed?
Co-convened by USGS scientists David Applegate and Lucile Jones

2:40 p.m., Flood hazards: Communicating hydrology and complexity to the public
Robert Holmes

2:55 p.m., Scientific studies in support of shutting in the Macondo Well (Deepwater Horizon) blowout, Gulf of Mexico
Steve Hickman

3:25 p.m., Assessing the utility of and improving USGS Earthquake Hazards Program products
Joan Gomberg


4 p.m., Science for decision making: Transmitting hazard science using catastrophic scenarios
Anne Wein

5 p.m., Lessons learned from an emergency release of a post-fire debris-flow hazard assessment for the 2009 Station fire, San Gabriel Mountains, Southern California
Susan Cannon

5:30 p.m., Reducing community vulnerability to wildland fires in Southern California
Jon Keeley

5:45 p.m., Anticipating and communicating plausible environmental and health concerns associated with future disasters: The ShakeOut and ARkStorm scenarios as examples
Geoff Plumlee

Friday, 12/17, 8 a.m., MS Poster Hall
The use of deep moonquakes for constraining the internal structure of the Moon
Renee C. Weber
The installation of seismometers on the Moon's surface during the Apollo era provided a wealth of information that transformed our understanding of lunar formation and evolution. Here we present new modeling in support of seismic missions that plan to build upon the knowledge of the Moon's interior gathered by Apollo.

Friday, 12/17, 8 a.m., MS Poster Hall
Packrats hoard ancient climate information
Robert S. Thompson
Ancient middens left behind by packrats give scientists temperature, precipitation and other climatic information for the past 25,000 years. The plant remains they contain can be identified at the species level and provide excellent material for radiocarbon dating.

Friday, 12/17, 9:45 a.m., MW 3018
Effects of the Biofuels Initiative on water quality and quantity in the Mississippi alluvial plain
Heather L. Welch
The Biofuels Initiative in the Mississippi Delta created a 47 percent decrease in cotton acreage and 288 percent increase in corn acreage in 2007. Corn uses 80 percent more water and nitrogen fertilizer than cotton, which affects water quantity and quality. A mathematical model calibrated to existing conditions in the Delta confirms that fertilizer application rates are contributing to hypoxic conditions in the Gulf of Mexico.

Friday, 12/17, 9 a.m., MW 2007
Lessons learned from a decade of "Did You Feel It?" collection
David Wald
The public has logged over 1.8 million online “Did You Feel It?” responses over the past decade immediately following earthquakes. Come hear how the USGS is using this data.

Friday, 12/17, 2:10 p.m., MS Poster Hall
Long-term groundwater contamination after source removal
Richard L. Smith
The consequences of groundwater contamination can remain long after a contaminant source has been removed. This can be the case even for constituents that are primarily water-soluble, such as treated wastewater. Learn about a Massachusetts’s study that found wastewater contaminants after 14 years.

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