Tag Archive | "rosenstiel school of marine and atmospheric science"


Sea Secrets Lecture Series Continues March 9

Gavin SchmidtPresented by the Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science and The Ocean Research and Education Foundation, the 2017 Sea Secrets lecture series continues Thursday, March 9, with Gavin Schmidt, director of NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies, who, in his talk, “Choosing our Climate Adventure,” will discuss how models of past, present, and future climate can be used to determine the fingerprints of climate drivers and what that means for past and present changes. Additionally, he will discuss the implications for future policy choices, including mitigation and adaptation and the outlines of the adventure our society will have to choose.

His talk will take place at the Rosenstiel School auditorium on Virginia Key, and begin with a reception at 5:30 p.m., followed by the lecture at 6 p.m. Seating is limited and RSVP is suggested.

The series will continue with the following speakers on the following dates:

Thursday, April 6:


Naked DNA in My Seawater” at the Rosenstiel School auditorium, 4600 Rickenbacker Causeway, Virginia Key, beginning with a reception at 5:30 p.m., followed by the lecture at 6 p.m.

Jesse Ausubel, director and senior research associate for the Program for the Human Environment, The Rockefeller University   

 During his talk, “Naked DNA in My Seawater,” Jesse Ausubel will introduce us to the eDNA in our seawater that you may have gulped while swimming. Loose or extracellular DNA abounds in natural water, salt and fresh. It may shed like dandruff from the break-up of cells. The presence of many aquatic animals can be reliably detected by analyzing water samples for the presence of DNA fragments. Emerging eDNA technology could add to or supplant traditional time-consuming, expensive, and destructive monitoring methods. As reference libraries of DNA grow, eDNA could become an effective way to understand the status of marine life.

Winners of the annual Rosenstiel School Underwater Photography Contest will be announced following this lecture.

RSVP: https://seasecrets4.eventbrite.com/


Thursday, May 4: 


Coral Reefs and Science Diplomacy: Bridging the Gap with Cuba” at the Patricia and Phillip Frost Science Museum, 1101 Biscayne Boulevard, Miami, FL, 33132, beginning with a reception at 7 p.m., followed by the lecture at 7:30 p.m.

Fernando Bretos, director of MUVE at Frost Science

Andrew Baker, associate professor, Department of Marine Biology and Ecology, UM Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science

During their presentation, “Coral Reefs and Science Diplomacy: Bridging the Gap with Cuba,” Fernando Bretos and Andrew Baker will discuss the efforts they are spearheading to use science diplomacy to bring marine science together in the two countries after 55 years of isolation. The recent re-establishment of diplomatic relations is opening new avenues for scientific investigation and environmental conservation. Frost Science Curator Fernando Bretos and UM Professor Baker will discuss new joint research they are conducting with Cuban scientists on the connections between coral reefs in the U.S. and our neighbor 90 miles south. Join us as we learn about their work to understand why Cuba’s reefs are in better condition than those in the U.S., how they can be protected from further declines, and how they might help boost the resilience of Florida’s coral reefs.

RSVP: https://seasecrets5.eventbrite.com/


For more information, email events@rsmas.miami.edu or call 305-421-4061.

The 2017 Sea Secrets lecture series is sponsored by The Shepard Broad Foundation, Sheryl Gold, William J. Gallwey III, Esquire, Key Biscayne Community Foundation, Merrill G. and Emita E. Hastings Foundation, Concrete Beach Brewery, Southern Glazer’s Wine & Spirits, and WPBT PBS.

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Study Offers New Information on Crash of Malaysia Airliner


Study Offers New Information on Crash of Malaysia Airliner

Researchers use data from ocean drifters to aid analysis

FltMH370StudyMIAMI—A group of oceanographers offers a new analysis of the potential crash site of Malaysian Airlines flight 370 in the southern Indian Ocean. The researchers, who included scientists from the University of Miami Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science, used data from buoys that monitor ocean conditions.

In their analysis, team members considered the trajectories of drifting buoys, called drifters, from NOAA’s Global Drifter Database and of an ocean numerical model. The researchers included only data from drifters that were unanchored, or undrogued, to better simulate the buoyancy conditions of airplane debris. The team then produced a simulation model of drifter motion using known oceanographic conditions near the potential crash site.

The analysis showed that it would take six months to one year for the drifters to reach western Australia and one-and-a half to two years to reach eastern Africa. Interestingly, two drifters traveled from the search region to the area of Reunion Island during the period between the crash of flight MH370 and when the missing airplane’s flaperon was found.

These results are consistent with the time and location of the aircraft debris that was found off Reunion Island, almost 17 months after the plane disappeared, and with the recently confirmed finding in Mozambique almost two years later.

The trajectories of the undrogued drifters and synthetic drifters revealed several areas of high probability in the southern Indian Ocean where debris from the missing flight could have passed, including vast areas of the south Indian Ocean, some of them in the relative neighborhood of the search area.

This study “highlights the importance of sustained observations to monitor ocean conditions that may serve a suite of applications and studies,” the authors said.

The methods developed by the researchers for the study could also help scientists track oil spills and other types of marine debris and pollutants in the ocean.

The study, titled “Analysis of flight MH370 potential debris trajectories using ocean observations and numerical model results,” was recently published online in the Journal of Operational Oceanography. The coauthors include: M. Josefina Olascoaga from the Rosenstiel School; Joaquin A. Trinanes and Gustavo J. Goni from NOAA’s Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory in Miami; Nikolai A. Maximenko and Jan Hafner from the University of Hawaii’s School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology; and David A. Griffin from CSIRO in Australia.



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Against the Tide: A Fish Adapts Quickly to Lethal Levels of Pollution

What’s their secret and can humans learn from them?

The Atlantic killifish’s natural habitats include pristine salt-marsh estuaries and polluted salt marshes high in PCB, PAH, or metals.

The Atlantic killifish’s natural habitats include pristine salt-marsh estuaries and those high in PCB, PAH, or metals.

MIAMI, Fla. (December 12, 2016)—Evolution is working hard to rescue some urban fish from a lethal, human-altered environment, according to a new study researchers from the University of California, Davis and the University of Miami Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science published December 9 in the journal Science.

While environmental change is outpacing the rate of evolution for many other species, Atlantic killifish living in four polluted East Coast estuaries turn out to be remarkably resilient. These fish have adapted to levels of highly toxic industrial pollutants that would normally kill them.

The killifish is up to 8,000 times more resistant to this level of pollution than other fish, the study found. While the fish is not commercially valuable, it is an important food for other species and an environmental indicator.

What makes Atlantic killifish so special is their extremely high levels of genetic variation, higher than any other vertebrate—humans included—measured so far. The more genetic diversity, the faster evolution can act. That’s one reason insects and weeds can quickly adapt and evolve to resist pesticides, and why pathogens can evolve quickly to resist drugs created to destroy them. Not all species are so lucky, however.

The whole genome sequencing of the Atlantic killifish revealed innovative insights into how animals quickly evolve and may adapt to climate change because of its biology and ecology. Two co-authors from the Rosenstiel School, Douglas Crawford and Marjorie Oleksiak, initiated genomic research in the Atlantic killifish by isolating more than 69,000 genes sequences and discovered large genetic variation. “Killifish have large populations that make natural selection more effective and live in a diversity of environments which enhances the genetic diversity,” Crawford said. “This genetic diversity is the basis for evolutionary adaptation that was revealed by taking the ambitious goal to sequencing the whole genome of 394 individuals.”

“Some people will see this as a positive and think, ‘Hey, species can evolve in response to what we’re doing to the environment!’” said lead author Andrew Whitehead, associate professor in the UC Davis Department of Environmental Toxicology and lead author of the study. “Unfortunately, most species we care about preserving probably can’t adapt to these rapid changes because they don’t have the high levels of genetic variation that allow them to evolve quickly.”

The scientists sequenced complete genomes of nearly 400 Atlantic killifish from polluted and non-polluted sites at New Bedford Harbor in Massachusetts; Newark Bay, New Jersey; Connecticut’s Bridgeport area; and Virginia’s Elizabeth River. The sites have been polluted since the 1950s and 1960s by a complex mixture of industrial pollutants including dioxin, heavy metals, hydrocarbons and other chemicals.

The team’s genetic analysis suggests that the Atlantic killifish’s genetic diversity make them unusually well positioned to adapt to survive in radically altered habitats. At the genetic level, the tolerant populations evolved in highly similar ways. This suggests that these fish already carried the genetic variation that allowed them to adapt before the sites were polluted, and that there may be only a few evolutionary solutions to pollution.

The study lays the groundwork for future research that could explore which genes confer tolerance of specific chemicals. Such work could help better explain how genetic differences among humans and other species may contribute to differences in sensitivity to environmental chemicals.

“If we know the kinds of genes that can confer sensitivity in another vertebrate animal like us, perhaps we can understand how different humans, with their own mutations in these important genes, might react to these chemicals,” Whitehead said.

“This study shows that different populations of Atlantic killifish exposed to toxic pollution evolve tolerance to that pollution through changes in one molecular pathway,” said George Gilchrist, program director in the National Science Foundation’s Division of Environmental Biology, which funded the study along with the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences. “This pathway may play a similar role in many animals exposed to pollutants, with slightly different adaptations in response to different toxins.”

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Study Models Tsunami Risk for Florida and Cuba


Study Models Tsunami Risk for Florida and Cuba

Research suggests that large submarine landslides off Great Bahama Bank in the past were large enough to generate tsunamis

Special to UM News


This graphic shows the morphology of the modeled submarine landslide (top) and the margin collapse (bottom) imaged by multibeam bathymetry data. The water displaced by the landslide causes the tsunami waves that impact Florida and Cuba.

MIAMI (December 13, 2016)—While the Caribbean is not thought to be at risk for tsunamis, a new study by researchers at the  Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science indicates that large submarine landslides on the slopes of the Great Bahama Bank have generated tsunamis in the past and potentially could again in the future.

“Our study calls attention to the possibility that submarine landslides can trigger tsunami waves,” said Rosenstiel School Ph.D. student Jara Schnyder, the lead author of the study. “The short distance from the slope failures to the coastlines of Florida and Cuba makes potential tsunamis low-probability but high-impact events that could be dangerous.”

The team identified margin collapses and submarine landslides along the slopes of the western Great Bahama Bank—the largest of the carbonate platforms that make up the Bahamas archipelago—using multibeam bathymetry and seismic reflection data. These landslides are several kilometers long and their landslide mass can slide up to 20 kilometers (12 miles) into the basin.

An incipient failure scar of nearly 100 kilometers (70 miles) in length was identified as a potential future landslide, which could be triggered by one of the earthquakes that occasionally occur off the coast of Cuba.

Using the mathematical models commonly used to evaluate tsunami potential in the U.S., the researchers then simulated the tsunami waves for multiple scenarios of submarine landslides originating off the Great Bahama Bank. They found that submarine landslides and margin collapses in the region could generate dangerous ocean currents and possibly hazardous tsunami waves several meters high along the east coast of Florida and northern Cuba.

“Residents in these areas should be aware that tsunamis do not necessarily have to be created by large earthquakes, but can also be generated by submarine landslides that can be triggered by smaller earthquakes,” said UM Rosenstiel School Professor of Marine Geosciences Gregor Eberli, senior author of the study and director of the Comparative Sedimentology Laboratory (CSL).

The study, titled “Tsunamis caused by submarine slope failures along western Great Bahama Bank,” was published in the November 4 issue of the journal Scientific Reports. In addition to Schnyder and Eberli, the co-authors of the paper are James T. Kirby, Fengyan Shi, and Babak Tehranirad of the University of Delaware, Thierry Mulder and Emmanuelle Ducassou of the Université de Bordeaux in France, and Dierk Hebbeln and Paul Wintersteller of the University of Bremen in Germany.

Funding was provided by the industrial associates of the CSL-Center for Carbonate Research at the University of Miami.

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Study Shows Ocean Acidification Accelerates Reef Erosion

Researchers found that increased activity by worms and other organisms act on coral skeletons

Special to UM News


A coral skeleton sample from the study and its 3D reconstructions show the external surface in gray, the CT-scan analysis of new structure added in green on the outside, and boreholes from worms showing structure loss on the inside (in blue).

MIAMI, Fla. (November 21, 2016)—Scientists studying naturally high carbon dioxide coral reefs in Papua New Guinea found that erosion of essential habitat is accelerated in these highly acidified waters, even as coral growth continues to slow. The new research by Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science’s Cooperative Institute for Marine and Atmospheric Studies (CIMAS), the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and the Australian Institute of Marine Science has important implications for coral reefs around the world as climate change makes the ocean more acidic.

The study, published in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B, measured changes in the structural habitat at two reefs in volcanically acidified waters off remote Papau New Guinea and, for the first time, found increased activity of worms and other organisms that bore into the reef structure, resulting in a loss of the framework that is the foundation of coral reef ecosystems.

These “champagne reefs” are natural analogs of how coral reefs may look in 100 years if carbon dioxide continues to rise and ocean acidification conditions continue to worsen.

“This is the first study to demonstrate that ocean acidification is a two-front assault on coral reefs, simultaneously slowing the growth of skeleton, and speeding up the rate at which old reef habitats are eroded,” said Ian Enochs, a coral ecologist at CIMAS and NOAA’s Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory and lead author of the study.

Enochs placed pieces of coral skeleton alongside these “champagne reefs” for two years to allow diverse coral reef communities to settle on them and to understand how reefs respond to ocean acidification conditions.

Using high-resolution CT scans similar to those taken at hospitals, the scientists created 3D models of the coral skeletons to peer inside them and see the bore holes left by worms and other organisms. These scans allowed them to measure the difference between new coral material added by calcifying organisms and coral material lost through bio-erosion.

The analysis found that a net loss of coral reef skeletons was occurring due to increased bio-erosion and at the pH tipping point of 7.8, reef frameworks in this region will begin to dissolve away.

“At these reefs, carbon dioxide from subterranean volcanic sources bubble up through the water, creating conditions that approximate what the rest of the world’s oceans will experience due to ocean acidification,” said Enochs. “This is the first study to piece together all of the separate coral reef ocean acidification processes, simultaneously looking at the different organisms that grow and erode reef habitats, and their net effects on one another over time.”

The study, titled “Enhanced macroboring and depressed calcification drive net dissolution at high-CO2 coral reefs,” was published in the November 15 issue of the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B.  In addition to Enochs, the study’s co-authors include Graham Kolodziej and Lauren Valentino from UM/CIMAS; Derek P. Manzello from NOAA’s Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratories; and Sam H. C. Noonan and Katharina E. Fabricius from the Australian Institute of Marine Science.

View a 3D animation of the coral cat scan showing erosion and accretion in naturally acidified waters.


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