Strengthening Coastal Research Partnerships at Coastal Sediments '11
Scientists and engineers from across the globe gathered in Miami, Florida, in early May for the 7th International Symposium on Coastal Engineering and Science of Coastal Sediment Processes, a.k.a. Coastal Sediments '11. Begun in 1977 and now held every 4 years, the conferences provide a forum for exchange of information among coastal engineers, geologists, marine scientists, shallow-water oceanographers, and others interested in the physical processes that move coastal sediment and change the shape of the coast.
The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) was one of the cooperating organizations that made this year's meeting possible, along with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' Coastal and Hydraulics Laboratory, the University of South Florida's Coastal Research Laboratory, Lund University (Sweden), the Florida Institute of Technology, Humiston and Moore Engineers, the Florida Shore and Beach Preservation Association, the Geological Society of America, and the American Shore and Beach Preservation Association.
USGS researcher oceanographer Guy Gelfenbaum served on this year's organizing committee, with Julie Rosati of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Ping Wang of the University of South Florida, Mohamed Dabees of Humiston and Moore Engineers, Hans Hanson of Lund University, and Gary Zarillo of the Florida Institute of Technology.
The program included short courses, field trips, and three days of technical talks on such topics as beach nourishment, sea-level change, shoreline change, inlets, coastal dunes, shelf and sand bodies, barrier-island evolution, navigation channels, sediment-transport measurement and modeling, lidar (light detection and ranging) and other remote-sensing techniques, the northern Gulf of Mexico, river deltas, marshes and wetlands, bars, spits, and storms.
Nearly 20 USGS scientists from across the nation attended the conference. Guy Gelfenbaum, Jeff List, Abby Sallenger, Chris Sherwood, Hilary Stockdon, David Twichell, and Jeff Williams chaired technical sessions, and Nathaniel Plant held a listening session along with Craig Weaver and Ann Tihansky to gather non-USGS perspectives about USGS products, priorities, and future directions. Numerous technical talks were presented by USGS scientists, and a USGS booth offered handout materials representing the broad scope of the agency's coastal and marine research.
One goal of the symposium is to foster the exchange of information across the broad fields of science and engineering. This year's two keynote speakers were Canadian Emeritus Professor of Coastal Engineering at Queen's University William Kamphuis, who discussed "Coastal Engineering—Theory and Practice," and USGS research oceanographer Abby Sallenger, who presented "Hurricanes, Sea-Level Rise, and Coastal Change."
Sallenger, who is helping to write the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's Fifth Assessment Report, due to be released in 2013/2014 (see http://www.ipcc.ch/), shared global perspectives in his keynote address. "Global patterns in sea-level change show definite hotspots," said Sallenger. "For example, 59 percent of the Gulf of Mexico shoreline has been affected by storms and significant change within the last 10 years, while the northeast U.S. has seen accelerated sea-level rise since the 1940s." Although the global rate of sea-level rise is between 1 and 2 mm/yr, local and regional rates vary because of local effects. Sediment supply and sea-level-rise acceleration/deceleration will likely affect this variability both locally and globally. "We are looking for the conversation to continue," said Sallenger.
Thanks to such conferences as Coastal Sediments '11, the conversation does continue. "The USGS supports and continues to build relationships with a global community of scientists through meetings like CS '11," said Gelfenbaum. "USGS involvement in this meeting has expanded the agency's visibility among an important network of scientific professionals. The network is highly diverse, including government engineers and research academics across international boundaries. This community is a platform for rich technical exchange that benefits all of us."
To learn more about Coastal Sediments '11, visit http://coastalsediments.cas.usf.edu/.
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Coastal Sediments '11