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Sea Secrets Lecture Series Kicks Off January 18


Special to UM News

MIAMI (January 3, 2017)—Presented by the Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science and The Ocean Research and Education Foundation, the 2017 Sea Secrets lecture series kicks off on Wednesday, January 18, when award-winning marine wildlife photojournalist Brian Skerry shares tales from many of his National Geographic Magazine stories around the world and in the sea that illustrate environmental problems and solutions and bring the audience eye-to-eye with amazing marine animals and exotic locations.

The University of Miami and the South Florida community is invited to join Skerry and four other distinguished scientists and explorers at the edge of discovery during the series, which runs through May 4 and is designed to provide insight and information to non-scientists about our planet and today’s global challenges, from climate change to coral reef health.

“For more than 20 years, the UM Rosenstiel School has been hosting distinguished speakers from around the world to provide the South Florida community with cutting-edge marine and atmospheric science and exploration,” said Dean Roni Avissar. “We are pleased to provide our community with another great lineup this year.”

With the exception of the final talk on May 4, all lectures 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. RSVP via the Eventbrite links provided below is requested. The May 4 lecture will take place at the new Patricia and Phillip Frost Science Museum, with the reception beginning at 7 p.m.

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

2017 Sea Secrets Lecture Series schedule:

 

skerry1Wednesday, January 18: 

“Ocean Soul” 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.

Brian Skerry, National Geographic underwater photojournalist

In his presentation, marine wildlife photojournalist Brian Skerry will take the audience around the world and into the sea, sharing tales from many of his feature stories for National Geographic Magazine. Environmental problems and solutions are illustrated and audiences are brought eye-to-eye with amazing marine animals and exotic locations. Skerry will also share tales from behind the photo, talking about how images are made and all the adventures of life in the field.

RSVP: https://seasecrets1.eventbrite.com/

 

 

avery2Thursday, February 9: 

“Our Connected Ocean – A Revolution in Ocean Science” 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.

Susan Avery, president and director emerita, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution

During her talk, “Our Connected Ocean – A Revolution in Ocean Science,” Susan Avery will discuss the quiet revolution in ocean science and what it means for humanity. Understanding the ocean’s complexity – today’s challenge for science – requires the use of new platforms that provide access to all parts of the ocean, new sensors that continually observe the ocean, and new observing networks that provide continuous data to scientists worldwide.

RSVP: https://seasecrets2.eventbrite.com/

 

 

schmidtThursday, March 9:

“Choosing our Climate Adventure” 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.

Gavin Schmidt, director of NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies

During his talk, “Choosing our Climate Adventure,” Gavin Schmidt will discuss his work on 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.

RSVP: https://seasecrets3.eventbrite.com/

 

 

ausubelThursday, 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/

 

bretos-bakerThursday, 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.

Winners of the annual Rosenstiel School Underwater Photography Contest will be announced following the April 6 lecture.

 

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Study Models Tsunami Risk for Florida and Cuba

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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

tsunami2

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

oa-reefs

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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As the Climate Warms, the Indian Ocean’s Mighty Agulhas Current Widens

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As the Climate Warms, the Indian Ocean’s Mighty Agulhas Current Widens


The  Rosenstiel School Agulhas Current study has important implications for global climate.

CORAL GABLES, Fla. (November 14, 2016)—A new study by researchers at the  Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science found that the Indian Ocean’s Agulhas Current is getting wider rather than strengthening. The findings, which have important implications for global climate change, suggest that intensifying winds in the region may be increasing the turbulence of the current, rather than increasing its flow rate.

Using measurements collected during three scientific cruises to the Agulhas Current, the Indian Ocean’s version of the Gulf Stream, researchers estimated the long-term transport of the current leveraging 22 years of satellite data. They found the Agulhas Current has broadened, not strengthened, since the early 1990s, due to more turbulence from increased eddying and meandering.

One of the strongest currents in the world, the Agulhas Current flows along the east coast of South Africa, transporting warm, salty water away from the tropics toward the poles. The Agulhas, which is hundreds of kilometers long and over 2,000-meters deep, transports large amounts of ocean heat and is considered to have an influence not only on the regional climate of Africa, but on global climate as part of the ocean’s global overturning circulation.

“Changes in western boundary currents could exacerbate or mitigate future climate change,” said Lisa Beal, a UM Rosenstiel School professor of ocean sciences and lead author of the study. “Currently, western boundary current regions are warming at three times the rate of the rest of the world ocean and our research suggests this may be related to a broadening of these current systems.”

Previous studies have suggested that accelerated warming rates observed over western boundary current regions, together with ongoing strengthening and expansion of the global wind systems predicted by climate models relate to an intensification and pole-ward shift of western boundary currents as a result of man-made climate change.

“To find decades of broadening, rather than intensification, profoundly impacts our understanding of the Agulhas Current and its future role in climate change,” said study co-author Shane Elipot, a UM Rosenstiel School associate scientist. “Increased eddying and meandering could act to decrease poleward heat transport, while increasing coastal upwelling and the exchange of pollutants and larvae across the current from the coast to the open ocean.”

This paper analyzed data collected during the “Agulhas Current Times-Series” experiment, led by Beal and funded by the National Science Foundation. The experiment produced continuous measurements of the Agulhas Current to better understand how the oceans are changing due to climate change.

The study, titled “Broadening not strengthening of the Agulhas Current since the early 1990s,” was published November 9, in the Advance Online Publication of the journal Nature. The authors of the study are Beal and Elipot. DOI: 10.1038/nature19853. Funding was provided the US National Science Foundation, grant OCE-085089.

Visit the University of Miami’s report on climate change,

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Study Reveals Earthquake Hazard

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Study Reveals Earthquake Hazard


Special to UM News

earthquake-study

These satellite images, obtained from the Envisat satellite, shows (left) the Western India plate boundary zone, which includes the Chaman fault and Kabul, and (right) a ground velocity field of the Ghazaband fault and Quetta.

MIAMI, Fla. (September 27, 2016) — Scientists at the University of Miami’s Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science have revealed alarming conclusions about the earthquake hazard in the Afghanistan-Pakistan border region. The new study focused on two of the major faults in the region—the Chaman and Ghazaband faults.

“Typically earthquake hazard research is a result of extensive ground-based measurements,” said Heresh Fattahi, the study’s lead author and a Rosenstiel School alumnus. “These faults, however, are in a region where the political situation makes these ground-based measurements dangerous and virtually impossible.”

Using satellite data from 2004-2011 acquired by the European Space Agency satellite Envisat and through a technique called interferometry, the researchers were able to measure the relative motion of the ground and then model the movement of the underlying faults with an accuracy of just a few millimeters. Using data for a seven-year timeframe and employing time-series analysis techniques helped increase the confidence in their results.

The new study shows that the Ghazaband fault is accommodating more than half of the relative motion between the Indian and Eurasian tectonic plates, which indicates that the fault accumulates stress, making the potential for a high-magnitude earthquake much higher than previously thought.

Quetta, the capital of Pakistan’s Balochistan province located close to the Ghazaband Fault, lost nearly half of its population following a magnitude 7.7 earthquake in 1935.

“Quetta’s population of more than one million is in serious danger if an earthquake were to strike,” said Falk Amelung, a Rosenstiel School professor of geophysics and a coauthor of the study. “Earthquake-proof construction is vital in avoiding earthquake disasters. Quetta, as well as other cities in the region, is completely unprepared.”

The research team also studied the Chaman Fault, the largest fault in the region, running from southern Pakistan to north of Kabul, Afghanistan’s capital. This fault was thought to accommodate the lion’s share of the relative plate motion, but the satellite data reveal that it may account for only about one third of it. “We have to rethink the tectonics of the region,” said Amelung.

The researchers also found a creeping segment, where the rock masses slide against each other without accumulating any stress that would lead to earthquakes. The creeping fault extends for 340 kilometers (211 miles). “This is the longest creeping fault ever reported,” said Fattahi.

The slower-than-expected fault rate and the presence of the long creeping segment explain why the region has not, for over 500 years, experienced major earthquakes with fault ruptures from several tens to several hundreds of kilometers. However, scientists warn, this does not mean there is no hazard.

The study, titled “InSAR observations of strain accumulation and fault creep along the Chaman Fault system, Pakistan and Afghanistan,” by Fattahi and Amelung appeared in the August 22 issue of the journal Geophysical Research Letters. NASA’s Earth Surface and Interior program and the National Science Foundation’s Tectonics Program funded the study.

 

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