We conduct multidisciplinary scientific research in the coastal and offshore areas of California, Oregon, Washington, Alaska, Hawaii, and other US Pacific Islands; and in other waterways of the United States.
USGS ecologist and Mendenhall post-doc Melissa Foley continues to study how the removal of two dams on the Elwha River in Washington state is affecting coastal and marine ecosystems. Foley is working with biologists for the Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe to understand how changes in physical factors such as salinity, temperature, and turbidity affect biological productivity in estuaries near the river mouth, which have historically served as nursery habitat for juvenile salmon. In the nearshore, Foley is working with other USGS scientists to identify factors causing the loss of subtidal algae around the mouth of the Elwha River. Foley is measuring light availability, sediment deposition, and scouring frequency to determine if one or a combination of these factors is driving the marked decrease in algal cover since dam removal began in 2011. For more information, contact Melissa Foley, 831-460-7564.
Visit the "USGS Science to Support the Elwha River Restoration Project" web site at http://www.usgs.gov/elwha.
Peter Swarzenski of the USGS Pacific Coastal and Marine Science Center will continue studies of the coastal aquifer of Roi Namur Island, Kwajalein Atoll, February 23–March 3, 2014. Swarzenski is investigating underground freshwater and saltwater using geochemical and geophysical techniques, including trace metal, nutrient, and carbon geochemistry; radon isotope analysis; piezometry; thermal conductivity; and electrical resistivity. This work is part of a joint study for the Department of Defense, Strategic Environmental Research and Development Program (SERDP) by USGS, NOAA, and the University of Hawaii, to assess impacts of sea-level rise and storm-wave inundation on infrastructure and freshwater under various sea-level rise and climate scenarios. DOD will use the findings to develop climate-change adaptation plans for infrastructure and water resources. The findings also will be useful to Pacific island nations threatened by sea-level rise and climate change. For more information contact Peter Swarzenski, email@example.com, 831-460-7529.
To inform managers tasked with ecosystem restoration, salmon recovery, flood-hazard mitigation, and climate-change planning in Puget Sound, scientists from the Pacific Coastal and Marine Science Center are mapping the Snohomish Delta where data either do not exist or were last collected in the 1960s. Swath bathymetry and acoustic backscatter data will be merged with recent LiDAR data to generate high-resolution (1-meter) onshore-offshore digital-elevation and substrate models to characterize important salmon habitats, sediment budgets, and transport processes, and the effects of artificial levees. Many Pacific Northwest river-delta wetlands have lost habitat due to levees that focus stream flow and sediment offshore, leaving wetlands starved for sediment and vulnerable to sea-level rise while fragmenting nearshore seagrass meadows—both essential habitats for endangered salmon species. The data will provide important boundary conditions for hydrodynamic modeling. For more information, contact Eric Grossman, firstname.lastname@example.org, 206-526-2529.
In September 2013, researchers from the U.S. Geological Survey and the University of Washington collaborated on fieldwork in Hood Canal, a long, narrow fjord in Puget Sound, Washington. The bottom waters in parts of Hood Canal and its terminus, Lynch Cove, suffer periodic depletions in dissolved oxygen (hypoxia), which can negatively affect ecosystem health. Read more...
Wherever water flows, it almost always carries sediment—particles of sand, silt or clay that flow, scour, accumulate and disperse to help form and reform Earth's features over time. Sediment helps to create natural habitats and to alter geography, and an understanding of its complex processes is key to many planning and conservation decisions. In the San Francisco Bay Area, sediment plays a particularly major role. The first ever compilation of research focused on sediment transport in the San Francisco Bay coastal system was published in November as a special issue of the journal Marine Geology, edited by USGS scientists. Read more...
USGS emeritus geologist Michael E. Field received the U.S. Coral Reef Task Force (USCRTF) 2013 Outstanding Scientific Advancement of Knowledge award for his “outstanding leadership in developing the USGS Coastal and Marine Geology Program’s Pacific Coral Reef Project…to better understand the influences of natural processes and impacts of human activities on coral reef health.” Read more...
Please join us at our Santa Cruz, CA Science Center for scientific talks and presentations given by local scientists and researchers.
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