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News Briefs

News Briefs



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Two people stand on a grassy beach while conducting drone flights USGS and Army Corps of Engineers Conduct Simultaneous Measurements at Sandy Neck Beach

August 15—The USGS Woods Hole Coastal and Marine Science Center Aerial Imaging and Mapping group conducted drone flights from atop a dune at Sandy Neck (Cape Cod, Massachusetts) while the Joint Airborne Lidar Bathymetry Technical Center of Expertise (JALBTCX) aircraft collected data overhead. The JALBTCX program is managed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and maps coastal topography and bathymetry while also collecting high-resolution color and hyperspectral imagery. The USGS deployed ground targets and collected ground-truth measurements of elevation and spectral properties of ground cover while drones operated by the USGS and JALBTCX aircraft mapped a landscape including beaches, dunes, and salt marsh at Sandy Neck and Great Marsh. This first-ever collaborative experiment between the Corps and the USGS will allow us to evaluate our methods, improve our interpretive tools, and develop new products for assessing coastal hazards and resources. More: https://www.usgs.gov/center-news/usgs-and-army-corps-engineers-conduct-simultaneous-measurements-sandy-neck-beach-cape


A man giving a presentation points to a slide projected on a screen Woods Hole Coastal and Marine Science Center Staff Teach the Teachers

August 14—Meagan Gonneea, Neil Ganju, and Matt Arsenaualt, Woods Hole Costal and Marine Science Center staff, offered presentations and handouts on Coastal Hazards in Wetlands and Estuaries to participants at the Smithsonian Science Education Academies for Teachers. Teachers from around the country go  to Washington, D.C., for a week-long course going behind the scenes at the Smithsonian’s museums and world-class research facilities. The academies combine training in science pedagogy with content presented by scientists and researchers who are experts in their fields. More: https://soundwaves.usgs.gov/2018/08/outreach.html


Aerial photo of Kilauea's volcano Is Kīlauea Volcano’s Summit and Rift Zone Activity Paused?

August 9—Since the morning of August 4, 2018, activity at Kīlauea Volcano's summit and its lower East Rift Zone has diminished dramatically. But what does it mean? Are Kīlauea's fissure 8 lava flow and summit collapses over? Or are they merely paused? On the volcano’s lower East Rift Zone, the eruption of lava and emission of sulfur dioxide gas have decreased dramatically. The ocean entry is minimally active, with small streams of lava oozing into the ocean, and the laze plume is diminished. It's possible that the slowdown is just a pause, and that an eruption on the East Rift Zone and subsidence at the summit of Kīlauea could resume. But it will take days, or possibly weeks, to determine with certainty if the activity is over or merely paused. What we know for sure, however, is that hazardous conditions remain in both areas of Kīlauea. More: https://volcanoes.usgs.gov/observatories/hvo/hvo_volcano_watch.html?vwid=1377


Photo of a man adjusting an instrument in a grassy field New Instruments Installed to Measure Arctic Coastal Erosion

August 7—In July 2018, three USGS Pacific Coastal and Marine Science Center researchers installed thermometers, video cameras, a seismometer, and a wave gauge to measure permafrost temperatures and bluff erosion on the Arctic Ocean coast of Barter Island, Alaska. Combined data from these instruments will be used to test the possibility of remotely estimating wave heights without installing and maintaining wave gauges in the ocean. USGS oceanographer Shawn Harrison devised and lead installation of the video cameras and seismometer. Coastal erosion along the Arctic coast of Alaska threatens Native Alaskan villages, sensitive ecosystems, energy- and defense-related infrastructure, and large tracts of Native Alaskan, State, and Federally managed land. The scientists also hosted a community outreach event to present results from earlier studies and to discuss their ongoing research. More: https://www.usgs.gov/center-news/new-instruments-installed-measure-arctic-coastal-erosion


Photo of a man standing beside a boat Scientists Complete Mission to Map Fast-Moving Fault Off Alaska

August 6—Researchers from USGS, NOAA, and their partners have completed the first high-resolution, comprehensive mapping of one of the fastest moving underwater tectonic faults in the world, the Queen Charlotte-Fairweather fault system, located in southeastern Alaska. This information will help communities in coastal Alaska and Canada better understand and prepare for the risks from earthquakes and tsunamis that can occur when faults suddenly move. The most recent survey came from NOAA Ship Fairweather, when it collected multibeam bathymetric data in an area along the U.S. and Canadian international border in water depths ranging from 500 to more than 7,000 feet deep. “This project has been a great collaboration on an important scientific issue with significant implications for public safety,” said David Applegate, USGS associate director for natural hazards. “We will apply what we learn from this mapping mission to hazard assessments for Alaska's coastal communities.” More: https://www.usgs.gov/news/scientists-complete-mission-map-fast-moving-fault-alaska-data-will-help-coastal-communities


Photo of a California Sparrow perched on a grass stem Sea-Level Rise Could Eliminate Endangered California Sparrow Habitat

July 31—A study published in Ecology and Evolution demonstrates the likely impacts of sea-level rise on the endangered Belding’s Savannah Sparrows. The paper, co-authored by USGS researchers Karen Thorne and Glen MacDonald along with 10 others, was based on research partially funded by the USGS. Estuarine sparrows are at particular risk of extinction due to relatively narrow niches in which they can nest and feed. Sea-level rise is predicted to increase in the next century, reducing estuarine habitats considerably. The authors warn that complete extirpation of the sparrows could occur even before all of their habitat is lost, as the birds require a minimum of 10 hectares to support breeding, and that “a patchy distribution of marginal breeding habitat might preclude nesting well before our model predicts full breeding habitat loss.” More: https://casc.usgs.gov/content/sea-level-rise-could-eliminate-endangered-california-sparrow-habitat


Aerial photo of an eroded sandy coastline Global Study of World’s Beaches Shows Threat to Protected Areas

July 18—A first-of-its-kind survey of the world’s sandy shorelines with satellite data found that they have increased slightly on a global scale over the past three decades but decreased in protected marine areas, where many beaches are eroding. Erosion in protected marine areas could threaten plant and animal species and cultural heritage sites. Worldwide, the study found that 24 percent of Earth’s sandy beaches are eroding, a coastline distance of almost 50,000 miles. A team of scientists and engineers from the Netherlands used machine learning to “teach” their classification software to accurately identify sandy beaches from images taken by Landsat satellites from NASA and the USGS. This allowed them to quickly and automatically examine 30 years of data and determine how many of Earth’s beaches are sandy instead of rocky or icy, and how those sandy beaches are changing with time. More: https://www.nasa.gov/feature/goddard/2018/global-study-of-world-s-beaches-shows-threat-to-protected-areas


For all USGS Coastal and Marine Geology Program news: https://www.usgs.gov/natural-hazards/coastal-and-marine-geology/news

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

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in this issue:

Cover Story Invasive Plants—Trapping Sediment that a Healthy Estuary Needs?

News Brief
News Briefs

Field Work
Recent Fieldwork

Outreach
Raising Teachers' Natural Hazards Awareness for Coastal Communities

Staff amd Center News
Marine Ecologist Joins Pacific Coastal and Marine Science Center

Publications
New USGS Report on the Fault off California’s Big Sur Coast

Aug. Publications

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