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Pacific Coastal and Marine Science Center

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Center News, March 2015

Photo of the seafloor with anenome and sea star on boulders and rock.

Rounded to subrounded boulders and rugose rock (water depth, 30 m). Abiotic complexity is high, biotic complexity is absent, and biocover is high. Biocover includes bat star; sea anemone; strawberry anemone, cup corals; and frilly sea cucumbers. [Larger version]

Coastal Video and Photograph Portal on Front Page of California Newspaper Santa Cruz Sentinel

USGS geographer Nadine Golden was interviewed on March 23, 2015, by Santa Cruz Sentinel reporter Samantha Clark about the newly released USGS Coastal and Marine Geology Video and Photograph Portal (http://www.usgs.gov/newsroom/article.asp?ID=4156). Clark’s article was published online on March 23 and on the front page of the print edition on March 24. The portal contains thousands of photographs and videos of seabed and coastline along the nation’s Atlantic, Gulf, and Pacific shores. It allows anyone to explore never-before-seen areas; it helps coastal managers and scientists study seafloor composition and habitats and better understand coastal hazards. Puget Sound, Hawaii, and the Arctic will eventually be represented. Additional video and photographs, including archived imagery, will be added as they become available. For more information, visit the portal (http://dx.doi.org/10.5066/F7JH3J7N) or contact Nadine Golden, ngolden@usgs.gov, 831-460-7530.

Screen shots from the new video and photo portal.Newly Released Database of Coastal and Seafloor Imagery Draws Media Attention

LA Times science writer Sean Greene interviewed USGS geographer Nadine Golden on March 18, 2015, about the USGS Coastal and Marine Geology Video and Photograph Portal released that day (http://dx.doi.org/10.5066/F7JH3J7N). The portal makes thousands of photos and videos of the seafloor and coastline (most areas never seen before) available and easily accessible online. This database is the largest of its kind, providing detailed and fine-scale representations of the coast. New video and photographs will be added as they are collected, and archived imagery will also be incorporated over time. The database will help coastal managers to make important decisions, ranging from protecting habitats to understanding hazards and managing land use. Greene’s piece on the portal appeared in the LA Times online Science section (http://touch.latimes.com/#section/621/article/p2p-83101019/) on March 20. For more information, contact Nadine Golden, ngolden@usgs.gov, 831-460-7530.

 

Potential influence of sea-level rise on storm flooding in Del Mar, California, as calculated by the Coastal Storm Modeling System.

Potential influence of sea-level rise on storm flooding in Del Mar, California (about 20 miles north of San Diego), as calculated by the Coastal Storm Modeling System (CoSMoS). Blue shows the ocean surface during a large storm that struck the area in January 2010, with flooding most evident in the trapezoidal area around the mouth of the San Dieguito River. Orange shows the extent of flooding calculated by CoSMoS for an identical storm after sea-level rise of 0.5 meter (an upper-range projection for the year 2050); red shows additional storm flooding after sea-level rise of 1.4 meters (an upper-range projection for 2100). USGS figure by Patrick Barnard. [Larger version]

Geologist Addresses Government Group on Assessing Coastal Climate-Change Impacts in San Diego Region

On March 5, 2015, USGS coastal geologist Patrick Barnard gave an invited presentation to San Diego area government officials and coastal managers from the Shoreline Preservation Working Group of the San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG) on climate-change impacts that could affect their planning for the region. Barnard introduced the group to the Coastal Storm Modeling System (CoSMoS), a numerical modeling system developed by the USGS and Netherlands-based research institute Deltares to predict coastal flooding caused by both sea-level rise and storms driven by climate change. CoSMoS was developed to provide coastal planners and emergency responders with critical storm-hazard information that they can use to increase public safety, mitigate physical damage, and more effectively manage and allocate resources within complex coastal settings. For more information, contact Patrick Barnard, pbarnard@usgs.gov, 831-460-7556.

Tim Elfers using an echosounder and GPS receiver mounted on a personal watercraft to survey the seafloor just off the beach near the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk.

Tim Elfers using an echosounder and GPS receiver mounted on a personal watercraft to survey the seafloor just off the beach near the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk. Most of the personal watercraft transects ran perpendicular to the shore, with the transect’s shoreward end as close to the beach as possible to tie into the beach surveys. USGS photograph by Andrew Stevens.

Climate Check in our Santa Cruz Backyard

Winter storms modified by future climate changes, including sea-level rise, could mean costly damage to harbors, beaches, and businesses, especially during El Niño years, when atmospheric conditions bring heavy rains to the central California coast. The biggest storms tend to hit later in the year when beaches have already been heavily battered. In a populated area that relies on its coastline for much of its revenue—from people such as surfers, beach goers, sailors, kite surfers, divers, and fisherman—there is a great need to understand how big storms can shape and affect the coast. Perhaps storms will alter an important snowy plover habitat, shift a surf break, or erode natural beach protection for waterfront businesses such as those in Capitola. USGS scientists in Santa Cruz have a rare opportunity to work on these issues close to home and collect data that can affect a range of people and businesses within the Monterey Bay region. Studying these changes now will help researchers create models of future climatic changes that will erode and shape our coasts—a valuable tool for city planners, conservationists, and the tourism industry.

Read more about this new study.

 

USGS researcher Curt Storlazzi discusses how 150 years of pineapple cultivation has affected the nearshore environment around Kahana, Maui, Hawaii.

USGS researcher Curt Storlazzi discusses how 150 years of pineapple cultivation has affected the nearshore environment around Kahana, Maui, Hawaiʻi.

USGS Leads Field Trip for Attendees at U.S. Coral Reef Task Force Meeting

During the fall 2014 meeting of the United States Coral Reef Task Force (USCRTF), held in Kāʻanapali, Maui, Hawaiʻi, Curt Storlazzi of the USGS Pacific Coastal and Marine Science Center led a field trip along the west Maui coast to address the science behind the “Past, Present, and Hopefully Future of Maui’s Coral Reefs.” The goal of the field trip was to provide participants with an overview of more than 15 years of integrated scientific investigations by federal, state, academic, and non-governmental organization (NGO) scientists to identify land-based sources of pollution from the Wahikuli and Honokōwai watersheds and document the resulting impact on the adjacent fringing coral reefs.

Read more in the latest edition of Sound Waves.

 

USGS researcher Curt Storlazzi discusses how 150 years of pineapple cultivation has affected the nearshore environment around Kahana, Maui, Hawaii.

Excerpt from sheet 1 of USGS Open-File Report 2014–1214 produced by the California Seafloor and Coastal Mapping Program. This view shows color shaded-relief bathymetry (seafloor depth) offshore of Half Moon Bay, California, approximately 30 kilometers (20 miles) south of San Francisco.

Workshops on the California Seafloor and Coastal Mapping Program

These workshops gave the large CSCMP team an opportunity to update participants on all that they have accomplished and to receive input that will help them plan future efforts. CSCMP scientists are currently publishing a comprehensive geologic and habitat base-map series for all of California’s State waters (from the shore out 3 nautical miles), and they are seeking feedback on how the program should go forward to best fit diverse scientific and stakeholder needs.

Read more in the latest edition of Sound Waves.

Center News, February 2015

Largest Dam Removal in U.S. History Characterized

Aerial photograph of the Elwha River mouth.

During the first 2 years of dam removal on the Elwha River, approximately 2.4 million cubic meters of sediment was added to the river mouth delta, expanding it seaward by hundreds of meters. Photograph by Neal and Linda Chism, volunteers with LightHawk (http://www.lighthawk.org/). [Larger version]

Dam removal has become an important management and restoration tool. The largest dam-removal project in U.S. history, on the Elwha River in Washington State, is the focus of federal, tribal, and academic scientists collaborating to characterize its effects. Five papers resulting from this work have been published in the journal Geomorphology. They provide detailed observations about changes in the river’s landforms, waters, and coastal zone during the first 2 years of dam removal, when massive amounts of sediment were eroded from the former reservoirs and transported downstream through the river and to the coast. In addition to restoring salmon runs, the dam removal is renewing the downstream movement of sand, gravel, and wood, which are important to river, estuarine, and coastal habitats.

Links to and titles of the new papers on “Large-scale dam removal on the Elwha River, Washington, USA”:

For more information, contact Jonathan Warrick, jwarrick@usgs.gov, 831-460-7569. Also, read the USGS Newsroom Release from February 18, 2015.

 

Public Lecture on Largest Dam Removal in U.S. History

Photograph of Amy with Josh Logan, working on the Elwha River.

Amy East (left) and Josh Logan used a lidar (light detection and ranging) scanner to collect elevation data along the lower Elwha River, Washington, just before dam removal began in September 2011. These data were compared with data collected after dam removal to document effects on the shape of the river.

Dam removal has become an important management and restoration tool. The largest dam-removal project in U.S. history, on the Elwha River in Washington State, is the focus of federal, tribal, and academic scientists collaborating to characterize its effects. USGS research geologist Amy East presented a public lecture on the Elwha project on February 26, 2015 at the USGS center in Menlo Park, California. She described what happened as the gradual removal of two dams released massive amounts of sediment downstream, causing changes in the river’s landforms, waters, and coastal zone. In addition to restoring salmon runs, the dam removal is affecting river, estuarine, and coastal habitats and providing important lessons for future river-restoration endeavors. For more information, and to watch the video of Amy's talk, visit the USGS Evening Public Lecture Series website: http://online.wr.usgs.gov/calendar/ — or contact Amy East, aeast@usgs.gov, 831-460-7533.

Center News, January 2015

USGS Marine Geology Paper Among Most Cited

Oblique aerial photograph showing a storm-deposited gravel ridge complex near the shore and an inland field of tsunami-deposited gravel, mostly boulder size, on the southeast coast of the island of Hawaii. Arrows point to individual large boulders.

Oblique aerial photograph showing a storm-deposited gravel ridge complex near the shore and an inland field of tsunami-deposited gravel (mostly boulder size) on the southeast coast of the island of Hawaiʻi. Arrows point to individual large boulders. [Larger version]

The editors of Marine Geology sent Bruce Richmond a certificate in January 2015 recognizing his paper “Recent storm and tsunami coarse-clast deposit characteristics, Southeast Hawaii” (Richmond and others, http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.margeo.2010.08.001) as one of the journal’s three most-cited papers published in 2011 and cited in 2012-2013. Richmond and USGS colleague Bruce Jaffe were coauthors on a second paper among the three most-cited: “New insights of tsunami hazard from the 2011 Tohoku-oki event” (Kazuhisa Goto and others, http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.margeo.2011.10.004). Richmond’s paper resolved a controversy by showing the distinction between coarse-clast deposits formed by storms (mostly ridges) and those formed by tsunamis (mostly fields of isolated clasts). The Goto paper was one of the first to describe deposits from the devastating 2011 Tohoku-oki tsunami in Japan and presented data suggesting that previous estimates of paleotsunamis in the region have been underestimated. For more information, contact Bruce Richmond, brichmond@usgs.gov, 831-460-7531.

 

USGS Virtual “Flight” Over San Francisco Bay Floor Featured by Sailing Magazine

Screenshot from USGS video titled, Fly Over the Seafloor of San Francisco Bay.

Screenshot from USGS video “Fly Over the Seafloor of San Francisco Bay” at http://gallery.usgs.gov/videos/536.

A USGS video that takes viewers on a virtual “flight” over the floor of San Francisco Bay was featured in January 2015 on the website of Latitude 38, a sailing and marine magazine*. Peter Dartnell of the USGS Pacific Coastal and Marine Science Center created the video from bathymetric data collected by the USGS, NOAA, and California State University, Monterey Bay. Published on the USGS website in 2009 (http://gallery.usgs.gov/videos/536), the video continues to attract and educate viewers. For more information, contact Peter Dartnell, pdartnell@usgs.gov, 831-460-7415.

*The January 2015 issue of Latitude 38 can be found at: http://www.latitude38.com/lectronic/lectronicday.lasso?date=2015-01-12

 

Future Wave and Wind Effects on Pacific Islands

Map showing the locations of the 25 modeled points within the tropical Pacific Ocean used in this study.

Map showing the locations of the 25 modeled points within the tropical Pacific Ocean used in this study. [Larger version]

According to a new USGS report, climate changes during the 21st century are expected to alter the highest waves and strongest winds across U.S. and U.S.-affiliated islands in the Pacific Ocean. Wave and wind processes drive flooding of coastal land, potentially damaging islands’ infrastructure, fresh-water supplies, and natural resources, and harming federally protected species such as nesting seabirds. Scientists from USGS and the University of California, Santa Cruz, used computer models to look at how climate change will affect wave heights, periods, and directions, and wind speed and direction. Their detailed calculations will be useful for managers developing coastal resilience plans or ecosystem restoration efforts, and for engineers designing future infrastructure. This research was supported by the Pacific Islands Climate Change Cooperative (http://piccc.net/). USGS Open-File Report 2015-1001 is posted at http://dx.doi.org/10.3133/ofr20151001. For more information, contact Curt Storlazzi, cstorlazzi@usgs.gov, 831-460-7521.

 

Center News, December 2014

VIPs Learn about Climate Change Impacts along San Francisco’s Outer Coast

Photo of Patrick, Mayor Ed Lee, Secretary Jewel, and others above Ocean Beach, San Francisco.

USGS research geologist Patrick Barnard, far left, leads VIPs on a field trip on the cliffs above Ocean Beach, San Francisco. Standing, left to right beside Patrick and in the foreground, are San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee, Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell, New York Times reporter Ken Chang, and Acting USGS Director Suzette Kimball. Ocean Beach's narrow stretch of coast is exposed to the brunt of the North Pacific Ocean wave climate. Photo courtesy of Tami Heilemann. [Larger version]

Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell, Acting USGS Director Suzette Kimball, and San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee took part in a coastal climate change field trip led by USGS research geologist Patrick Barnard on December 18, 2014. The field trip visited two beaches along the outer coast of the San Francisco Peninsula that are within the most rapidly eroding stretch of California’s coast. Erosion is currently driven primarily by human influences on sand supply, but projected climate-change impacts, including sea-level rise and extreme storms, will increase the vulnerability of this urbanized coast to beach erosion, cliff failures, and coastal flooding, posing threats to private and public infrastructure, including a state highway and a $1.2-billion wastewater-treatment plant. The USGS has been active in understanding the various coastal processes that control this important section of coastline. For more information, contact Patrick Barnard, pbarnard@usgs.gov, 831-460-7556.

See more photographs from the field trip.

Learn more about the USGS Pacific Coastal and Marine Science Center's climate change studies.

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