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

NSF Establishes $12M Urban Water Research Network


NSF Establishes $12M Urban Water Research Network

Special to UM News

South Florida, including Miami Beach, which flooded during a king tide in 2013, is part of the . Photo by  Arianna Prothero/WLRN

Miami Beach, which flooded during a king tide in 2013, is part of South Florida’s water sustainability study region. Photo by Arianna Prothero/WLRN

MIAMI, Fla. (August 26, 2015)—A consortium of 14 U.S. academic institutions, including the University of Miami, received a $12 million award from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to address challenges that threaten urban water systems in the United States and around the world. Rosenstiel School researchers David Letson and Kenny Broad are among the network’s principal investigators.

The newly established Urban Water Innovation Network (UWIN), led by Colorado State University, will create technological, institutional, and management solutions to help communities increase the resilience of their water systems and enhance preparedness for responding to water crises. Letson and Broad, professors of marine ecosystems and society, will help design and measure the impacts of innovative technological solutions, such as green infrastructure, sustainable urban drainage networks, and floodplains, that can enhance the sustainability of water systems across urban water systems.

The network will establish six highly connected regional urban water sustainability hubs in densely populated regions across the nation to help communities transition to sustainable management of water resources. The South Florida urban area, which includes the cities of Miami, Fort Lauderdale, and West Palm Beach, will be among the six water sustainability study regions used as an observatory to identify key sustainability indicators.

According to the World Economic Forum’s 2014 Global Risks Perception Survey, water crises are the top global risk to the viability of communities throughout the world. From the crippling droughts and water shortages in the West to the devastating floods in the East and South, U.S. water systems have been impacted by changes in climate, demographics, and other pressures. Reliance on water is why Americans express greater concern about threats to water than about any other environmental issue, according to the latest Gallup poll of environmental concerns.

Extreme events and global climate change can have profound impacts on water security, shattering the most vulnerable communities and instilling enormous costs on governments and economies. Effective response to these challenges requires transitioning to both technological and management solutions that protect water systems from pressures and enhance their resilience.

The vision of UWIN is to create an enduring research network for integrated water systems and to cultivate champions of innovation for water-sensitive urban design and resilient cities. The integrated research, outreach, education, and participatory approach of UWIN will produce a toolbox of sustainable solutions by simultaneously minimizing pressures, enhancing resilience to extreme events, and maximizing co-benefits. These benefits will reverberate across other systems, such as urban ecosystems, economies, and arrangements for environmental justice and social equity.

Strategic partnerships and engagement with other prominent U.S. and international networks will extend UWIN’s reach to more than 100 cities around the world. Key UWIN partners and collaborators include the Water Environment Research Foundation (WERF), the Urban Sustainability Directors Network (USDN), and the Network for Water in European Regions and Cities (NETWERC H2O).

This innovative research project will ultimately produce an Urban Water Sustainability Blueprint, outlining effects and tradeoffs associated with sustainable solutions for cities of all sizes. It also will provide steps and guidance for action based on the collective knowledge gained by the research and the collaborative approach of the Sustainability Research Network.

In addition to Colorado State University and UM, the UWIN consortium includes Arizona State University, Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies, Florida International University, Howard University, Oregon State University, Princeton University, University of Arizona, University of California-Berkeley, University of California-Riverside, University of Maryland Baltimore County, University of Oregon, and University of Pennsylvania.

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UM Researchers Cited Among Most Influential in Their Fields

UM News


Philip D. Harvey, A. “Parsu” Parasuraman, Shigui Ruan, and Brian Soden.

CORAL GABLES, Fla. (August 14, 2015)—Four UM scholars are included in Thomson Reuters’ Highly Cited Researchers 2014, which recognizes scientists whose published works are most cited by fellow researchers. Earning the “mark of exceptional impact” were Philip D. Harvey, professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences; A. “Parsu” Parasuraman, chair of the Department of Marketing; Shigui Ruan, professor of mathematics; and Brian Soden, professor of atmospheric sciences.

Harvey, who is also chief of the Division of Psychology at the Miller School of Medicine, specializes in cognitive, severe mental illness, and neuropsychiatric conditions, including traumatic brain injury, dementia, and Parkinson’s disease. Through his work, he has pioneered standards of care.

Parasuraman, who also holds the James W. McLamore Chair in Marketing at the School of Business Administration, has focused his research on defining, measuring, and leveraging service quality; the role of technology in service delivery; and strategies for effectively marketing technology-based products and services.

At the College of Arts and Sciences, Ruan focuses on nonlinear dynamics of differential equations. He uses mathematical models to study biological, epidemiological, and medical problems, such as antibiotic-resistant bacteria and immune response to HIV infections.

Soden, who is also associate dean for professional masters at the Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science, investigates the magnitude of key climate feedback processes, such as water vapor and clouds, and the response of extreme weather events, including hurricanes and extreme precipitation, atmospheric circulation, and wind events, to changes in climate from global warming.


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Carbon Dioxide-Spewing Volcano Drives Reef from Coral to Algae


Carbon Dioxide-Spewing Volcano Drives Reef from Coral to Algae

Special to UM News

At left is a high-resolution photomosaic image of a healthy coral reef and, at right, a volcanically acidified, algae-dominated habitat at Maug Island, in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands.

On the left is a high-resolution photomosaic image of a healthy coral reef and, at right, a volcanically acidified, algae-dominated habitat at Maug Island, in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands.

MIAMI, Fla. (August 10, 2015)—Scientists from NOAA and the Cooperative Institute for Marine and Atmospheric Studies based at the University of Miami Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science have documented a dramatic shift from vibrant coral communities to carpets of algae in remote Pacific Ocean waters where an underwater volcano spews carbon dioxide.

The new research, published online August 10 in Nature Climate Change, provides a stark look into the future of ocean acidification—the absorption by the global oceans of increasing amounts of human-caused carbon dioxide emissions. Scientists predict that elevated carbon dioxide absorbed by the global oceans will drive similar ecosystem shifts, making it difficult for coral to build skeletons and easier for other plants and animals to erode them.

“While we’ve done lab simulations of how increased carbon dioxide influences coral growth, this is the first field evidence that increasing ocean acidification results in such a dramatic ecosystem change from coral to algae,” said Ian Enochs, a scientist with NOAA’s Cooperative Institute for Marine and Atmospheric Studies at UM who led the research. “Healthy coral reefs provide food and shelter for abundant fisheries, support tourism, and protect shorelines from storms. A shift from coral- to algae-covered rocks is typically accompanied by a loss of species diversity and the benefits that reefs provide.”

The research was conducted on Maug, an uninhabited volcanic island in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, about 450 miles from Guam. This location allowed scientists to single out a small geographic area that experiences carbon dioxide levels that vary from present day to those predicted for a hundred years in the future. Maug also provided researchers with an area with few other manmade stressors for coral, such as overfishing and pollution from land.

By setting up underwater instruments to continuously measure the effects of carbon dioxide, scientists were able to use this natural laboratory to show that coral cover decreased under higher levels of carbon dioxide, giving way to less desirable algae-covered rocks near the volcano’s vents.

For more information about the research, read Enoch’s interview.


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Study Offers New Insights on Hurricane Intensity, Pollution Transport

Special to UM News

MIAMI, Fla. (July 30, 2015)—As tropical storm Isaac was gaining momentum toward the Mississippi River in August 2012, University of Miami researchers were dropping instruments from the sky above to study the ocean conditions beneath the storm.  Their newly published study showed how a downwelling of warm waters deepened the storm’s fuel tank for a rapid intensification toward hurricane status. The results also revealed how hurricane-generated currents and ocean eddies can transport oil and other pollutants to coastal regions.

Tropical storms obtain their energy from the ocean waters below. As a storm moves across the Gulf of Mexico, it may interact with an upwelling of cooler waters from the deeper ocean or, in the case of Isaac, a downwelling inside rings of warm water that separated from a warm-water current, called the Loop Current, that moves through the Gulf of Mexico to join with the Gulf Stream along the U.S. east coast. As the storm moves forward, ocean temperatures are fueling the storm’s intensity.

Researchers at the Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science, in collaboration with NOAA’s Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory, deployed a total of 376 airborne sensors during six NOAA hurricane hunter aircraft flights conducted before, during, and after the passage of Isaac over the eastern Gulf of Mexico. The researchers observed a predominant downwelling of water inside these warm-water rings, or eddies, from the Loop Current, which caused its intensification from a tropical storm to a category 1 hurricane just prior to landfall.

“These results underscore the need for forecast models to include upwelling-downwelling responses to improve intensity forecasting and current transport,” said Benjamin Jaimes, an assistant scientist at the Rosenstiel School.

“Isaac moved over the region of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill where we observed both upwelling and downwelling processes that can re-suspend hydrocarbons lying on the seafloor,” said Nick Shay, professor of ocean sciences. “This may have resulted in tar balls being deposited on beaches by hurricane-generated currents.”

Tropical storm Isaac gradually intensified in the Gulf of Mexico to reach category 1 hurricane status as an 80 mph (130 km/h) storm, making landfall along the coast of Louisiana. The storm was estimated to have caused $2.39 billion in damage along its track.

The study, titled “Enhanced Wind-Driven Downwelling Flow in Warm Oceanic Eddy Features during the Intensification of Tropical Cyclone Isaac (2012): Observations and Theory,” was published in the June 2015 issue of the Journal of Physical Oceanography. The study’s co-authors include: Benjamin Jaimes and Lynn “Nick” Shay of the UM Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science’s Department of Ocean Sciences. BP/Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative to the Deep-C consortium at Florida State University supported the research.

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Researchers Head to the Clouds to Study Earth’s Climate


Researchers Head to the Clouds to Study Earth’s Climate


The investigators, UM’s Bruce Albrecht, Virendra Ghate, of the University of Chicago, and Paquita Zuidema, also of the Rosenstiel School, stand in front of the NSF Gulfstream-V.

Special to UM News

MIAMI, Fla. (August 5, 2015) – Nearly 40 years after taking his first aircraft measurements of clouds off the California coast, University of Miami Professor Bruce Albrecht has returned again this month equipped with new state-of-the-art technologies to understand the effects of low-lying clouds on global climate.

“These low clouds are extremely important to the climate system because they reflect sunlight back to space, which provides the primary cooling of our planet,” said Bruce Albrecht, professor of atmospheric sciences at the Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science. “The processes through which cloud coverage will change as our planet warms remains largely uncertain in climate predictions.”

The first of 14-projected research flight aboard the state-of-the-art National Science Foundation (NSF) Gulfstream V research aircraft took off on July 1 from Sacramento, California to sample the trade wind-driven clouds as they move across the Pacific Ocean to Hawaii. During the nearly two month-long experiment, the research team is studying the process by which these low clouds – stratocumulus and cumulus – change shape as they move with the prevailing trade winds. The project is unique in that the same cloud areas sampled by the research aircraft on the flights to Hawaii are re-sampled two days later when the aircraft returns to California, allowing the evolution of the cloud systems to be studied.

Stratocumulus and cumulus clouds both reflect solar radiation back into space, but in differing amounts. The process by which stratocumulus transitions into cumulus depends on many factors, not all well understood. To gather a more detailed picture of the clouds, Albrecht and his research team are sampling across a range of scales, from the fine particles called aerosols that “seed” the cloud droplets, to the large raindrops that deplete the clouds, and the larger thermodynamic environment to which the clouds are responding. Learning more about the finer details of these clouds is necessary to estimate the solar energy that eventually reaches Earth.

The research aircraft is equipped with new technology, such as an airborne Doppler cloud radar and an aerosol lidar, to provide the researchers with a better understanding of the cloud structure, aerosols, and precipitation, which will provide them with significant new insights on the role of these clouds on the global climate system.

“Our preliminary data are already revealing that aerosol-depleted environments are much more common than previously thought, changing textbook ideas on the low cloud lifecycle,” said Paquita Zuidema, professor of atmospheric sciences at the UM Rosenstiel School and co-investigator of the study.

“Due to improvements in long-distance research flight operations and technology, my dream of forty years has come true,” said Albrecht.

The NSF-funded study, AGS-1445832, also includes Rosenstiel School alumnus Virendra Ghate, from the University of Chicago; Chris Bretherton and Robert Wood from the University of Washington; and Rosenstiel School graduate student Mampi Sarkar. The Cloud Systems Evolution in the Trades (CSET) runs through August 15.

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