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Date: Thursday, 09 Oct 2014 12:53
Summary: A press conference will be held on October 14, 2014 in recognition of the upcoming International ShakeOut Day of Action

Media Invited to Interview Top Government Officials

Contact Information:

Brian Blake ( Phone: 901-340-8885 ); Jessica Robertson ( Phone: 703-648-6624 );




WASHINGTON, D.C.— A press conference will be held on October 14, 2014 in recognition of the upcoming International ShakeOut Day of Action. On October 16, nearly 25 million people (2 million in the SouthEast region) are expected to participate in the world’s largest earthquake drill. To mark the occasion and build awareness, several state and federal organizations have partnered to call the public to action and prepare for the drill.

WHAT

Media are invited to attend a ShakeOut press conference and interview executive level state and federal government officials, meet students who experienced the 2011 Virginia earthquake, shoot footage of a live seismometer and earthquake drill demonstration, and film the “Designing for Disaster” exhibit at the National Building Museum. Main topics include:

  • The Great ShakeOut earthquake drills, occurring throughout the nation on October 16
  • New earthquake research and monitoring activities in D.C. and the eastern United States
  • Lasting effects of Virginia's magnitude 5.8 earthquake in August 2011, felt by nearly one third of the U.S. population
  • Current state and federal government activities that are improving disaster preparedness and resiliency

WHERE

National Building Museum
401 F Street NW
Washington, D.C. 20001

WHEN

  • October 14, 2014 
  • 9:45AM EDT: Media Arrival
  • 10:00AM to 10:30AM EDT: Press Conference
  • 10:30AM to Noon EDT: Interviews, Demonstrations, and Tours

WHO

  • Suzette Kimball, Director, U.S. Geological Survey
  • Craig Fugate, Administrator, FEMA
  • Chase W. Rynd, Executive Director, National Building Museum
  • Doug Straley, Assistant Superintendent of Administration, Louisa County Public Schools (VA)
  • Brian Baker, Chief of Staff, District of Columbia Homeland Security and EMA
  • Mark Benthien, Global Coordinator, Great ShakeOut Earthquake Drills, Southern California Earthquake Center
  • Jim Wilkinson, Executive Director, Central U.S. Earthquake Consortium

RSVP

Media are encouraged to RSVP to Brian Blake at bblake@cusec.org. Press packets will be available. Interviews and one-on-one filming will be allowed following the press conference.

Author: "OC_Web@usgs.gov (Office of Communications and Publishing)" Tags: "PR, NaturalHazards NaturalHazardsEarthqu..."
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Date: Wednesday, 08 Oct 2014 15:00
Summary: Historical groundwater withdrawals have caused the loss of land-surface elevation, or subsidence, in the Houston-Galveston region

Contact Information:

Mark C. Kasmarek ( Phone: 936-271-5318 ); Jennifer LaVista ( Phone: 303-202-4764 );




Historical groundwater withdrawals have caused the loss of land-surface elevation, or subsidence, in the Houston-Galveston region. Loss of surface elevation is a concern as it may increase the potential for more intense flooding in the study area according to the latest annual report conducted by the U.S. Geological Survey. 

Groundwater withdrawn from the Chicot, Evangeline, and Jasper aquifers has been the primary source of water for municipal supply, industrial and commercial use, and irrigation in the Houston-Galveston region since the early 1900s. The USGS monitors and studies the occurrence of water in these aquifers and rates of subsidence so that decision makers can make informed choices on how to manage this finite resource.

This new USGS report is the latest in an annual series depicting water-level altitudes and groundwater-level changes in the Chicot, Evangeline and Jasper aquifers. During the 38 years of the study, the amount of subsidence at monitoring stations ranges from 0.1 feet at the Texas City-Moses Lake site in Galveston County, Texas to 3.654 feet at the Addicks station in Harris County. Water levels in the southeast parts of the study area, to include the Chicot and Evangeline aquifers, have generally continued to rise since 1977. However, water levels of the Chicot and Evangeline aquifers in northwestern Harris County and the Jasper aquifer in Montgomery and northern Harris County, have generally declined.

“Subsidence, or the loss of land-surface elevation, can become a public safety concern during a flood, high-intensity rain event, or hurricane,” said USGS scientist Mark Kasmarek.

The study was prepared in cooperation with the Harris-Galveston Subsidence District, City of Houston, Fort Bend Subsidence District, Lone Star Groundwater Conservation District, and the Brazoria County Groundwater Conservation District. The report, which contains various maps depicting water-level altitudes, short-term and long-term water-level changes, and measured subsidence, is available online.

“Long-term monitoring of groundwater resources is important to understand the impacts of development and changes in water-use on the resource and subsidence,” said Mike Turco, General Manager of the Harris Galveston and Fort Bend Subsidence Districts. “The data we get from the USGS is imperative in helping us make sound resource management decisions that benefit the public and the environment.”  

The Houston-Galveston region, Texas—consisting of Harris, Galveston, Fort Bend, Montgomery, Brazoria, Chambers, Liberty, San Jacinto, Walker, Grimes, and Waller Counties—represents one of the largest areas of land-surface subsidence in the United States. By 1979, as much as 10 feet of subsidence had occurred in the Houston-Galveston region, and approximately 3,200 square miles of the 11,000 square-mile geographic area had subsided more than one foot.

In this study, subsidence was measured using equipment called borehole extensometers which is a technique that uses deep, narrow drilled holes in the ground, called boreholes, to monitor land-surface elevation. Thirteen extensometers at 11 sites have continuously recorded data since they were activated or installed between the years of 1973–1980.

The USGS has monitored water levels in the Houston-Galveston region since 1976, and annually monitors more than 700 wells throughout 11 counties to collect data on and appraise the groundwater resources. Water levels were measured during December 2013–March 2014 because levels are usually higher during these months.

For the period 1977–2014, water-level measurements in wells screened in the Chicot aquifer indicate that water levels ranged from a decline of 120-feet to a rise of 200-feet in adjacent western and eastern areas, respectively. Similarly for the Evangeline aquifer, water levels ranged from a decline of 340-feet to a rise of 260-feet in coincident geographic areas. For the period 2000–2014, water-level measurements in wells screened in the Jasper aquifer indicate water-levels ranged from a decline of 220-feet to no change in Montgomery County.

To learn more, or read past reports visit the Houston-Galveston region

Author: "OC_Web@usgs.gov (Office of Communications and Publishing)" Tags: "PR, ground-water water Texas subsidence ..."
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Date: Tuesday, 07 Oct 2014 17:55
Summary: ALBUQUERQUE, New Mexico —Basins in the Sandia and Manzano Mountains at risk for a rainfall-generated debris-flow following a wildfire are identified by a new method for estimating post-fire erosion hazards before a wildfire actually burns, according to a new U.S. Geological Survey study.

Contact Information:

Heidi  Koontz ( Phone: 303-202-4763 );




ALBUQUERQUE, New Mexico —Basins in the Sandia and Manzano Mountains at risk for a rainfall-generated debris-flow following a wildfire are identified by a new method for estimating post-fire erosion hazards before a wildfire actually burns, according to a new U.S. Geological Survey study.

Wildfire can drastically increase the probability of debris flows, a potentially hazardous and destructive form of landsliding in landscapes that have otherwise been stable throughout recent history. This new USGS report identified watersheds with the most serious poten­tial for debris-flow hazards in the event of a large-scale wildfire and subsequent rainfall in the Sandia and Manzano Mountains, including sub-basins close to Albuquerque.

"This pre-wildfire assessment approach is valuable to resource managers because the analysis of the debris-flow threat is made before a wildfire occurs, which facilitates pre-wildfire management, planning and mitigation," said Anne Tillery, USGS scientist and author of the new report.

Simulated debris-flow probabilities, debris-flow volumes and burn probabilities were combined into an integrated hazard ranking for each sub-basin and used to identify the most hazardous basins in the Sandia and Manzano Mountains area. Five sub-basins on the west-facing slopes of the Sandia Mountains, four of which extend to the outskirts of the City of Albuquerque, are among the top two percent most hazardous for the area assessed.

"The Rio Grande Water Fund will be using the results of this study to set priorities for restoring overgrown forests,” said Laura McCarthy, director of Conservation Programs with The Nature Conservancy. “Figuring out which areas are vulnerable to damaging wildfire and post-fire flooding is necessary to protect communities and our water sources." 

Author: "OC_Web@usgs.gov (Office of Communications and Publishing)" Tags: "PR, WaterHydrologicResearchandDevelopmen..."
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Date: Thursday, 02 Oct 2014 17:16
Summary: The U.S. Geological Survey has installed two streamgages to be used for flood monitoring in the City of Laredo, Texas

Contact Information:

Mark Null ( Phone: 210-691-9262 ); Jennifer LaVista ( Phone: 303-202-4764 );




The U.S. Geological Survey has installed two streamgages to be used for flood monitoring in the City of Laredo, Texas.

Reporting river flows is not just a job at USGS – it’s a matter of public safety, environmental protection and wise economic development. The extreme rainfall and flooding that occurred in the area during July of 2010 demonstrated the need for reliable flood warning and flood-related data for water-resource managers, emergency managers, city planners, and decision makers.

The two USGS gaging stations will provide continuous real-time streamflow monitoring for Zarcate Creek and Manadas Creek. This equipment will measure water levels and the speed of streamflow. Data is transmitted hourly by satellite, with the capability to transmit additional data at random intervals more frequently when water levels rise.

“The addition of a reliable and highly-accurate real-time gaging station network in the City of Laredo area will enhance flood-warning efforts for the City,” said USGS scientist Mark Null. “The streamgages and flood level monitoring site will also provide engineers and planners valuable information that can be used for bridge and road design, and flood response.”

There are more than 500 USGS-operated streamgages in Texas that measure water levels, streamflow, and rainfall. When flooding occurs, USGS crews make numerous discharge measurements to verify the data USGS provides to federal, state, and local agencies, as well as to the public.

For more than 125 years, the USGS has monitored flow in selected streams and rivers across the U.S. The information is routinely used for water supply and management, monitoring floods and droughts, bridge and road design, determination of flood risk, and for many recreational activities.

Access current flood and high flow conditions across the country by visiting the USGS WaterWatch website. Receive instant, customized updates about water conditions in your area via text message or email by signing up for USGS WaterAlert. See where floodwaters go by following a stream trace at Streamer. View water data on your mobile device. Learn how a USGS streamgage works.

Author: "OC_Web@usgs.gov (Office of Communications and Publishing)" Tags: "PR, water streamgages streamflow floodin..."
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Date: Thursday, 02 Oct 2014 15:00
Summary: The American bullfrog has expanded its invasion of the Yellowstone River floodplain in Montana, according to a new study released in “Aquatic Invasions.”

Contact Information:

Suzanna  Soileau ( Phone: 406-994-7257 ); Paul Laustsen ( Phone: 650-329-4046 );




BOZEMAN, Mont. – The American bullfrog has expanded its invasion of the Yellowstone River floodplain in Montana, according to a new study released in “Aquatic Invasions.

The study is the first of its kind to describe the rapid extent of bullfrog spread, as well as their preferred habitat along the Yellowstone River near Billings, Montana. Scientists with the U.S. Geological Survey’s Northern Rocky Mountain Science Center, Montana Natural Heritage Program, Bureau of Land Management, and Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks concluded that this invasive species is now thriving and rapidly spreading in the Yellowstone River.

Bullfrogs are thought to be a cause in the declines of multiple amphibian and reptile species around the globe. They are big, mobile, omnivores with a voracious appetite, ability to reproduce rapidly, and carriers of amphibian diseases. This makes them an extremely successful invader and a threat to biodiversity.

“The impacts of bullfrogs on native amphibians in the Yellowstone River are not yet known, but native Northern leopard frogs are likely to be most vulnerable to bullfrog invasion and spread because their habitats overlap,” said Adam Sepulveda, USGS scientist and lead author of the study.

Bullfrogs are native to eastern North America, but are a relatively new invader in the Yellowstone River floodplain and were first documented in 1999.

To get an understanding of the extent of the bullfrog invasion, scientists conducted field surveys in 2010, 2012, and 2013. They used visual encounter surveys to search for adults, egg masses and larvae, and calling surveys to listen for calls of breeding males. This was done while slowly driving or walking roads adjacent to wetlands, riparian areas and large water bodies or while floating the Yellowstone River.

Results of the surveys indicate that bullfrogs are firmly established in the Yellowstone River floodplain and can rapidly spread to new habitats.

Bullfrogs expanded from roughly 37 miles in 2010 to about 66 miles in 2013. The spreading is both up and downstream, but greater downstream which indicates river flow can accelerate the spread. Additionally, the number of breeding sites increased from 12 sites in 2010 to 45 sites in 2013.

Bullfrogs were found in publicly accessible areas with deeper waters and emergent vegetation such as ponds and impoundments, which lead scientists to believe bullfrogs were introduced by humans since it would have been difficult for the frogs to get here themselves.

“Bullfrogs were likely introduced to the Yellowstone River region for food, recreational hunting, bait and pest control, and as released pets,” said Sepulveda.

These findings give land managers a better idea of the extent of the bullfrog invasion so they can focus on prevention, early detection, direct removal, and restoration. Additionally, increase in public outreach and education may help prevent further bullfrog introductions at public-access sites. 

The study illustrates that bullfrog invasions in western waters can spread rapidly and impact native ecosystems if not managed promptly. The article is titled “Invasion of American bullfrogs along the Yellowstone River.

More information about impacts and prevention of aquatic invasive species can be found on the USGS Northern Rocky Mountain Science Center website

Author: "OC_Web@usgs.gov (Office of Communications and Publishing)" Tags: "PR, AmericanBullfrog Montana NR2014_10_0..."
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Date: Wednesday, 01 Oct 2014 21:17
Summary: Scientists and technicians from the U.S. Geological Survey are conducting flood measurements in four different locations in the Lincoln and Omaha metropolitan areas in response to the high flows produced by the heavy rains over the last 24 hours

Contact Information:

Heidi  Koontz ( Phone: 303-202-4763 ); Robert Swanson ( Phone: 402.328.4100 );




Reporters: Do you want to interview a USGS scientist as they measure flooding? Please contact Bob Swanson or Heidi Koontz.

Scientists and technicians from the U.S. Geological Survey are conducting flood measurements in four different locations in the Lincoln and Omaha metropolitan areas in response to the high flows produced by the heavy rains over the last 24 hours.

Six sites were above flood stage, and two sites — Salt Creek at Greenwood and the Big Blue River at Crete — are currently above flood stage. Greenwood has reached its fourth highest peak stage of record (61 years), and Weeping Water Creek is at its fifth highest peak stage of record (63 years).

Additional Information

Receive instant, customized updates about water conditions in your area via text message or email by signing up for USGS WaterAlert. See where floodwaters go by following a stream trace at Streamer. View water data on your mobile device. Learn how a USGS streamgage works.

 

Author: "OC_Web@usgs.gov (Office of Communications and Publishing)" Tags: "PR, flooding Nebraska Omaha Lincoln Rain..."
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Date: Wednesday, 01 Oct 2014 17:30
Summary: Nutrient levels decreased 40 to 55 percent in Indian Creek following upgrades and changes to treatment processes at the Douglas L. Smith Middle Basin and Tomahawk Creek Wastewater Treatment Facilities (WWTFs) in Johnson County, Kansas, according to a new U.S. Geological Survey study

Study Finds Urbanization Plays a Large Role in Water Quality

Contact Information:

Jennifer LaVista ( Phone: 303-202-4764 );




Nutrient levels decreased 40 to 55 percent in Indian Creek following upgrades and changes to treatment processes at the Douglas L. Smith Middle Basin and Tomahawk Creek Wastewater Treatment Facilities (WWTFs) in Johnson County, Kansas, according to a new U.S. Geological Survey study.

High levels of nutrients, which are essential for plant growth, are not necessarily beneficial. Excessive nutrients can be harmful by degrading habitats and decreasing the amount of oxygen in the water. This can result in areas experiencing stress or death of near or bottom dwelling organisms. Johnson County Wastewater completed treatment upgrades at both wastewater treatment plants totaling approximately $37 million, and a significant part of the investment went directly to nutrient removal facilities.

While wastewater discharge has the most substantial effect on nutrient levels in Indian Creek, urban influences were also found to play a major role in affecting water quality. Indian Creek is one of the most urbanized drainage basins in Johnson County, and receives discharge from two WWTFs. After upgrades to the Indian Creek WWTFs in 2008–2009, nutrient levels decreased by about 40 to 55 percent in both wastewater discharges and water tested downstream of the plants from 2010-13.

However, increasing urban development contributes to the decline of water-quality and habitat, and aquatic plants and animals adapting to those declining conditions. The complete USGS study, done in cooperation with Johnson County Wastewater, can be found online.

“Johnson County Wastewater values the information provided in this USGS study,” said John O’Neil, General Manager for Johnson County Wastewater. “In our role of providing wastewater treatment to a significant population and discharging to effluent-dominated streams, this information is critical in making sound decisions to further improve water-quality in the receiving streams while also minimizing the impact to our rate payers.”

Aquatic plants and animals that tolerate degraded water-quality conditions were more prevalent in Indian Creek than in less urbanized drainage basins in Johnson County.

“The Indian Creek study furthers our understanding of the relationship between urbanization, wastewater discharges and stream health,” said Mike Tate, Kansas Department of Health and Environment. “This study, and others like it, will assist policy makers in determining the most cost effective means of improving stream health in urban areas.”

Despite decreases in nutrient concentrations, effects of wastewater discharge on Indian Creek were still evident. When wastewater represented a substantial portion of total streamflow, nutrient concentrations were ten to 100 times larger downstream from the WWTFs than upstream from the WWTFs.

“This study was an excellent opportunity to learn more about the effects of wastewater discharge on an urban stream,” said Jennifer Graham, research hydrologist and lead USGS scientist on the study. “The high-resolution data collected by this study allowed us to document water-quality improvements following WWTF upgrades and differentiate between urban and wastewater influences on Indian Creek.” 

More information about USGS studies in Johnson County can be found on the USGS Kansas Water Science Center website

Author: "OC_Web@usgs.gov (Office of Communications and Publishing)" Tags: "PR, nutrients Water waste-water Wastewat..."
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Date: Wednesday, 01 Oct 2014 15:57
Summary: Scientists from the U.S. Geological Survey will use a harmless fluorescent red dye to determine the complexity of the channel in the Elwha River as part of a larger effort to define conditions in the river since the removal of two dams

Contact Information:

Rich Sheibley ( Phone: 253-552-1611 ); John Clemens ( Phone: 253-552-1635 );




TACOMA, Wash. — Scientists from the U.S. Geological Survey will use a harmless fluorescent red dye to determine the complexity of the channel in the Elwha River as part of a larger effort to define conditions in the river since the removal of two dams.

"You might see a reddish tint to the water during the week of September 29th, but it’s nothing to worry about," said Rich Sheibley, USGS hydrologist and leader of the dye study. "Scientific use of this dye is very common and has been shown to be harmless to aquatic life and human health."

Rhodamine WT, the fluorescent red dye used in this study and commonly used in other hydrologic studies, is nontoxic and safe for the environment. The dye will be released at a point just downstream of the diversion on the Elwha and monitored at downstream locations by USGS hydrologists.

The study will provide estimates of water travel time between points on the river and will provide information about the river channel’s complexity by modeling the response of the dye at a downstream location. This experiment will provide data for comparison to a similar experiment done before the dams were removed.

The study is part of ongoing scientific work by the USGS, NOAA, the Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe, the National Park Service, and the Bureau of Reclamation, to document conditions in the Elwha River prior to and after the removal of Glines Canyon and Elwha Dams. Removal of the two dams, which were built 1912-27, was recently completed, opening up about 70 miles of river habitat for salmon and other species.

Information about USGS water-resources studies in Washington.

Information about the USGS involvement in the Elwha Dam Removal project.

Author: "OC_Web@usgs.gov (Office of Communications and Publishing)" Tags: "PR, ElwhaDam RedDye hydrology Water Klal..."
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Date: Monday, 29 Sep 2014 19:17
Summary: Certain bats may be approaching wind turbines after mistaking them for trees, according to a study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences

Contact Information:

Heidi Koontz ( Phone: 303-202-4763 ); Cris Hein ( Phone: 706-621-1975 ); Catherine Puckett ( Phone: 352-377-2469 );




Additional Contacts:  Cris Hein, Bat Conservation International, 706-621-1975, chein@batcon.org and Marcos Gorresen, Univ. of Hawaii at Hilo, 808-985-6407, mgorresen@usgs.gov


FORT COLLINS, Colorado – Certain bats may be approaching wind turbines after mistaking them for trees, according to a study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The study, led by U.S. Geological Survey scientist Paul Cryan, was the first to use video surveillance cameras to watch bats for several months flying at night near experimentally manipulated wind turbines and led to the discovery that tree-roosting bats, or “tree bats,” may approach and interact with wind turbines in consistent and predictable ways. 

Bats are long-lived, slow-breeding mammals that serve as the main predators of night flying insects, such as moths and beetles. Insect-eating bats are estimated to save farmers billions of dollars each year in the United States by providing natural pest control. Historically, fatal collisions of bats and tall, human-made structures were rarely observed, but something changed with the construction of large, industrial wind turbines. It is now estimated that tens to hundreds of thousands of bats die each year after interacting with the moving blades of wind turbines. Most tree bats are found dead beneath turbines in late summer and autumn, yet reasons for this seasonal susceptibility remain a mystery – unknown behaviors of bats may play a role.  

"If we can understand why bats approach wind turbines, we may be able to turn them away," said Paul Cryan, a USGS research scientist and the study’s lead author. "Advances in technology helped us overcome the difficulties of watching small bats flying in the dark around the 40-story heights of wind turbines. The new behaviors we saw are useful clues in the quest to know how bats perceive wind turbines and why they approach them."  

The researchers used ‘thermal’ cameras that image heat instead of light, and they recorded surveillance imagery of bats for several months at three wind turbines in Indiana. The team also monitored the nighttime airspace around turbines with near-infrared security cameras, radar and machines that record the ultrasonic calls of bats, as well as developed computer code for automatically finding bats in the hundreds of hours of recorded video imagery. Over the period of the study, bats were seen on video near turbines more than 900 times. 

Bats typically approached turbines one or more times rather than just flying past, and bats often flew very close to the turbine monopoles, nacelles (machinery boxes at top of monopoles) and sometimes approached stationary or slow-moving blades. At the same time, radar indicated that hundreds of night-migrating birds were flying above and around the turbines nightly, but not closely approaching like bats.    

The most surprising discovery was that bats more often approached wind turbines high above the ground and from the downwind side when the wind was blowing. This strong pattern strengthened as wind speed increased and when turbine blades were experimentally prevented from turning at full speed, but decreased in high winds when turbine blades spun normally. Bats also appeared at turbines more often during brightly moonlit nights. The authors concluded from these patterns that bats might follow airflow paths around tree-like structures and use visual cues at night, but may not be able to tell a tree from a wind turbine with slow or stopped blades.

"The way bats approach turbines suggests they follow air currents and use their dim-adapted vision to find and closely investigate tall things shaped like trees," said Marcos Gorresen, an author of the study and scientist with the University of Hawaii at Hilo. "We see these behaviors less often on darker nights and when fast-moving turbine blades are creating chaotic downwind turbulence. This may be because bats are less likely to mistake turbines for trees and approach them in those conditions."

Previous studies indicated that bat fatalities at wind turbines might occur more often on nights with low average wind speeds. The authors speculate that bats may be more likely to approach turbines in such conditions when turbines have airflow patterns resembling trees, but then might be put at risk if wind speed rapidly increases and pushes turbine blades to speeds faster than bats can perceive or outmaneuver.

Although these new findings revealed bats closely investigating most parts of the turbines, the study could not determine their reasons for doing so. The authors wonder if bats might expect to find roosts, clouds of insect prey or other bats at turbines as they might at trees, regardless of whether such resources actually occur at wind turbines. Little is known about the behaviors of bats or insects around tall trees during late summer and autumn, but the authors write that studying treetop behaviors in natural environments might help explain why bats are particularly susceptible to wind turbines.  

The new findings also have practical implications toward the goal of reducing or avoiding bat fatalities at wind turbines. A current method of reducing bat fatalities at wind turbines is to increase the wind speed threshold at which turbine blades begin operating and spinning fast. “It might be possible to efficiently further reduce fatalities with this method by accounting for sporadic gusts of wind during low-wind periods when bats might be hanging around turbines,” said Cris Hein, an author of the study and scientist with Bat Conservation International. The findings also suggest that pointing monitoring or deterrent devices into the downwind airspace of a turbine might have better chances of detecting or keeping bats away than if they are pointed elsewhere.

The authors conclude that increasing our understanding of the ways that bats perceive and approach wind turbines helps in the search for solutions to reduce the effects of this important energy source on bat populations. More information about this study and additional bat research is available online at the USGSFort Collins Science CenterBat Conservation International and Bats and Wind Energy Cooperative.

Author: "OC_Web@usgs.gov (Office of Communications and Publishing)" Tags: "PR, EcosystemsCooperativeResearchUnits E..."
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Date: Monday, 29 Sep 2014 19:17
Summary: Certain bats may be approaching wind turbines after mistaking them for trees, according to a study to be published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences

Contact Information:

Heidi Koontz ( Phone: 303-202-4763 ); Cris Hein ( Phone: 706-621-1975 ); Catherine Puckett ( Phone: 352-377-2469 );




Additional Contacts:  Cris Hein, Bat Conservation International, 706-621-1975, chein@batcon.org and Marcos Gorresen, Univ. of Hawaii at Hilo, 808-985-6407, mgorresen@usgs.gov


FORT COLLINS, Colorado – Certain bats may be approaching wind turbines after mistaking them for trees, according to a study to be published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The study, led by U.S. Geological Survey scientist Paul Cryan, was the first to use video surveillance cameras to watch bats for several months flying at night near experimentally manipulated wind turbines and led to the discovery that tree-roosting bats, or “tree bats,” may approach and interact with wind turbines in consistent and predictable ways. 

Bats are long-lived, slow-breeding mammals that serve as the main predators of night flying insects, such as moths and beetles. Insect-eating bats are estimated to save farmers billions of dollars each year in the United States by providing natural pest control. Historically, fatal collisions of bats and tall, human-made structures were rarely observed, but something changed with the construction of large, industrial wind turbines. It is now estimated that tens to hundreds of thousands of bats die each year after interacting with the moving blades of wind turbines. Most tree bats are found dead beneath turbines in late summer and autumn, yet reasons for this seasonal susceptibility remain a mystery – unknown behaviors of bats may play a role.  

"If we can understand why bats approach wind turbines, we may be able to turn them away," said Paul Cryan, a USGS research scientist and the study’s lead author. "Advances in technology helped us overcome the difficulties of watching small bats flying in the dark around the 40-story heights of wind turbines. The new behaviors we saw are useful clues in the quest to know how bats perceive wind turbines and why they approach them."  

The researchers used ‘thermal’ cameras that image heat instead of light, and they recorded surveillance imagery of bats for several months at three wind turbines in Indiana. The team also monitored the nighttime airspace around turbines with near-infrared security cameras, radar and machines that record the ultrasonic calls of bats, as well as developed computer code for automatically finding bats in the hundreds of hours of recorded video imagery. Over the period of the study, bats were seen on video near turbines more than 900 times. 

Bats typically approached turbines one or more times rather than just flying past, and bats often flew very close to the turbine monopoles, nacelles (machinery boxes at top of monopoles) and sometimes approached stationary or slow-moving blades. At the same time, radar indicated that hundreds of night-migrating birds were flying above and around the turbines nightly, but not closely approaching like bats.    

The most surprising discovery was that bats more often approached wind turbines high above the ground and from the downwind side when the wind was blowing. This strong pattern strengthened as wind speed increased and when turbine blades were experimentally prevented from turning at full speed, but decreased in high winds when turbine blades spun normally. Bats also appeared at turbines more often during brightly moonlit nights. The authors concluded from these patterns that bats might follow airflow paths around tree-like structures and use visual cues at night, but may not be able to tell a tree from a wind turbine with slow or stopped blades.

"The way bats approach turbines suggests they follow air currents and use their dim-adapted vision to find and closely investigate tall things shaped like trees," said Marcos Gorresen, an author of the study and scientist with the University of Hawaii at Hilo. "We see these behaviors less often on darker nights and when fast-moving turbine blades are creating chaotic downwind turbulence. This may be because bats are less likely to mistake turbines for trees and approach them in those conditions."

Previous studies indicated that bat fatalities at wind turbines might occur more often on nights with low average wind speeds. The authors speculate that bats may be more likely to approach turbines in such conditions when turbines have airflow patterns resembling trees, but then might be put at risk if wind speed rapidly increases and pushes turbine blades to speeds faster than bats can perceive or outmaneuver.

Although these new findings revealed bats closely investigating most parts of the turbines, the study could not determine their reasons for doing so. The authors wonder if bats might expect to find roosts, clouds of insect prey or other bats at turbines as they might at trees, regardless of whether such resources actually occur at wind turbines. Little is known about the behaviors of bats or insects around tall trees during late summer and autumn, but the authors write that studying treetop behaviors in natural environments might help explain why bats are particularly susceptible to wind turbines.  

The new findings also have practical implications toward the goal of reducing or avoiding bat fatalities at wind turbines. A current method of reducing bat fatalities at wind turbines is to increase the wind speed threshold at which turbine blades begin operating and spinning fast. “It might be possible to efficiently further reduce fatalities with this method by accounting for sporadic gusts of wind during low-wind periods when bats might be hanging around turbines,” said Cris Hein, an author of the study and scientist with Bat Conservation International. The findings also suggest that pointing monitoring or deterrent devices into the downwind airspace of a turbine might have better chances of detecting or keeping bats away than if they are pointed elsewhere.

The authors conclude that increasing our understanding of the ways that bats perceive and approach wind turbines helps in the search for solutions to reduce the effects of this important energy source on bat populations. More information about this study and additional bat research is available online at the USGSFort Collins Science CenterBat Conservation International and Bats and Wind Energy Cooperative.

Author: "OC_Web@usgs.gov (Office of Communications and Publishing)" Tags: "PR, EcosystemsCooperativeResearchUnits E..."
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Date: Monday, 29 Sep 2014 16:00
Summary: Amphibians, including threatened and endangered species like the Oregon Spotted Frog, may benefit from a recent study that highlights the use of promising tools that can assess the risk of disease exposure

Contact Information:

Tara Chestnut ( Phone: 503-251-3283 ); Paul Laustsen ( Phone: 650-329-4046 );




PORTLAND, Ore. — Amphibians, including threatened and endangered species like the Oregon Spotted Frog, may benefit from a recent study that highlights the use of promising tools that can assess the risk of disease exposure. With global biodiversity decreasing, it has become important for scientists to find new and innovative tools to quickly assess how environmental hazards affect wildlife, especially those that are threatened or endangered.

“By sampling water for amphibian chytrid fungus, rather than sampling amphibians directly, we can detect the pathogen with as few as four samples,” says U.S. Geological Survey researcher Tara Chestnut.

This information is vital to researchers and resource managers, alike, by providing early detection of potential problems that may require immediate conservation efforts or further detailed investigation. Of all species, amphibians (e.g. frogs, toads, salamanders, and newts) appear especially vulnerable to environmental hazards, with up to 41 percent considered threatened worldwide. One potentially lethal threat is the chytrid fungus, Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis. The amphibian chytrid fungus causes the disease chytridiomycosis, which is linked to many of the observed amphibian population declines and extinctions globally.

For this study, scientists coupled sophisticated molecular tools with advanced statistics to evaluate whether the amphibian chytrid fungus occupied ponds and wetlands. First, they used DNA extracted from water samples to test for the presence and abundance of the amphibian chytrid fungus. Then they used an occupancy modeling method to estimate the chance of a false-negative result, or the likelihood of not detecting the pathogen when it was actually present. The study found chytrid fungus in approximately 61 percent of sampled ponds and wetlands. The fungus was present year round at the long-term monitoring site, but its density was highest in the spring. Beside seasonal variability, elevation also played a role in the presence of the fungus. Chytrid fungus was more common in amphibian breeding habitats at lower elevations than those habitats at higher elevations.

Among the benefits of these tools, scientists have been able to improve survey protocols, which increases the chances of detecting the amphibian chytrid fungus in the environment, while reducing the risk of a false-negative. More importantly, these tools are not limited to only studying the amphibian chytrid fungus. These same methods can be modified to quickly and applied to other aquatic diseases that pose risks to the health of wildlife and humans alike.

“When we study the ecology of pathogens by sampling the environment, conservation efforts can be more informed and focused to meet the management goals and objectives for threatened and endangered species, and common species,” says Chesnut.

The study was published in the journal PLOS One.

Author: "OC_Web@usgs.gov (Office of Communications and Publishing)" Tags: "TA, ChytridFungus amphibians EndangeredS..."
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Date: Thursday, 25 Sep 2014 18:38
Summary: Collaboration between federal Climate Science Centers, partner agencies and tribes is vital for minimizing and adapting to potential harmful effects of climate change on human society and surrounding ecosystems, according to a newly-released U.S. Geological Survey circular

Contact Information:

Heidi  Koontz ( Phone: 303-202-4763 ); Catherine Puckett ( Phone: 352-377-2469 );




Collaboration between federal Climate Science Centers, partner agencies and tribes is vital for minimizing and adapting to potential harmful effects of climate change on human society and surrounding ecosystems, according to a newly-released U.S. Geological Survey circular.

“All eight of our Climate Science Centers are working closely with tribal nations to develop the practical science they need," said Anne Castle, DOI Assistant Secretary for Water and Science, "and we are looking forward to the addition of five new BIA tribal liaison positions within the CSC network to help bring climate science results directly to tribal governments.” 

The South Central CSC provides climate science training and science tools that can help tribes assess their natural and cultural resource vulnerabilities and develop adaptation strategies. The circular also provides resources related to funding opportunities, climate science resources and partnership contacts.  

Eight Climate Science Centers were established by the U.S. Department of the Interior between 2010 and 2012 to increase understanding of climate change and coordinate an effective response to climate change effects on the natural and cultural resources that DOI manages.  

“It is our intent to share climate change mitigation and adaptation information with tribes and to receive feedback from tribal members regarding how ecosystems and cultural resources can be maintained as climate changes,” said Kim Winton, USGS scientist and director of the SC CSC.

The SC CSC gives natural resource managers the science, tools and information they need to mitigate and adapt to the effects of climate variability and change on their areas of responsibility. The mission of the Climate Science Center is to produce “actionable science,” or science that can be utilized to make resource management decisions such as responding to drought, fire, invasive species and other environmental issues. 

This new USGS circular describes issues of interest to the 68 Native American tribes in the south-central United States, the programs and initiatives of the SC CSC and means of sharing climate science knowledge with tribes in the south central United States. 

“Through two-way communication of interests, knowledge and concern about climate change and related issues, the needs of tribes in the south central United States will be better served, and interpretation of the effects of climate change in this region will be strengthened,” said Winton.

Author: "OC_Web@usgs.gov (Office of Communications and Publishing)" Tags: "PR, ClimateChange ClimateScienceCenters ..."
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Date: Thursday, 25 Sep 2014 15:09
Summary: In the early morning hours of September 23, 2004, a swarm of small-magnitude earthquakes about half a mile below Earth’s surface marked the reawakening of Mount St. Helens and led to an eruption on October 1, following 18 years of eruptive quiescence since the end of the 1980-86 eruption

Contact Information:

Liz Westby, USGS ( Phone: 360-993-8979 ); Abi  Groskopf, MSHI ( Phone: 360-891-5067 ); Leslie  Gordon, USGS ( Phone: 650-329-4006 );




VANCOUVER, Wash. — In the early morning hours of September 23, 2004, a swarm of small-magnitude earthquakes about half a mile below Earth’s surface marked the reawakening of Mount St. Helens and led to an eruption on October 1, following 18 years of eruptive quiescence since the end of the 1980-86 eruption.

The 2004-08 eruption, while less catastrophic than the May 18, 1980 eruption, reminded people that Mount St. Helens remains an active volcano, and it encouraged public officials to move forward with volcano preparedness plans all around the state. While aiding in the Mount St. Helens response, many of them trained for the day that one of the other large volcanoes in Washington or Oregon erupts.

Scientists made important strides by monitoring the eruption, developing new tools for investigation, and observing conditions immediately prior to and after cessation of an eruption. “Every eruption that we observe contributes some new clues about volcanic systems, and opportunities to test equipment and warning systems useful for saving lives at volcanoes in the U.S. and around the world,” said John Ewert, Scientist-in-Charge of the U.S. Geological Survey’s Cascades Volcano Observatory in Vancouver, Wash.  “Mount St. Helens has become our ‘go-to backyard volcano’ for testing volcano monitoring tools and models applied to understanding re-awakening volcanic systems.”

In commemoration of this anniversary, the USGS has developed a short video, and added summary information about the 2004-2008 eruption.  The USGS, in partnership with the Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument and the Mount St. Helens Institute is conducting webinars for school students about the eruption.

The 2004-08 eruption began with small ejections of ash followed by more than three years of continuous slow lava extrusion. This relatively quiet eruption was in stark contrast to the catastrophic May 18, 1980 eruption, which took 57 lives, caused more than $1 billion of damage (1980 dollars), and left a gaping crater where the summit of the volcano had been.

On October 1, 2004, the first of several small explosions shot a plume of volcanic ash and gases skyward.  Four additional steam and ash explosions occurred through October 5th, and three of the explosions produced noticeable fallout of fine ash downwind.  A growing welt beneath Crater Glacier heralded the rise of semi-solid magma that rose from a depth of around half a mile to the surface to form rocky spines, smooth-sided ridges, and jumbled piles of lava.  During the next 34 months of the eruption, lava piled on the crater floor to form a new dome 1,500 feet high.

From October 2004 to late January 2008, about 121 million cubic yards of lava had erupted onto the crater floor covering an area larger than downtown Portland, Oregon.  The dome is approximately 1,000 feet high, which is almost twice the height of Seattle’s Space Needle, and nearly as high as the Empire State Building.  Since 1980, the volcano has rebuilt about 6 percent of the volume lost in the 1980 landslide and eruption.

Since the onset of the modern science of volcanology, Mount St. Helens has been giving opportunities for scientists to observe volcanic quiescence, explosive eruptions, calmer lava-dome growth, gas releases, landslides, and the current magma recharge.  These varied circumstances provide scientists with important learning opportunities.

Note to Editors: Galleries of Mount St. Helens photos and videos and images of the 2004 – 2008 eruption are available online. For more information on this event or others, or for information visit the USGS Cascades Volcano Observatory website.

Author: "OC_Web@usgs.gov (Office of Communications and Publishing)" Tags: "PR, NR2014_09_25 volcano hazard MountStH..."
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Date: Wednesday, 24 Sep 2014 19:00
Summary: In the early morning hours of September 23, 2004, a swarm of small-magnitude earthquakes about half a mile below Earth’s surface marked the reawakening of Mount St. Helens after 18 years of eruptive quiescence

Contact Information:

Liz Westby ( Phone: 360-993-8979 ); Leslie  Gordon ( Phone: 650-329-4006 );




USGS scientist Cynthia Gardner examines fresh rock samples from the new growth on Mount St. Helens' dome.
USGS scientist Cynthia Gardner examines fresh rock samples from the new growth on Mount St. Helens' dome. (High resolution image)

VANCOUVER, Wash.— In the early morning hours of September 23, 2004, a swarm of small-magnitude earthquakes about half a mile below Earth’s surface marked the reawakening of Mount St. Helens after 18 years of eruptive quiescence.  Steam and ash explosions on October 1 were followed by three years of lava extrusion that formed a new dome inside the crater.  The lava dome pushed Crater Glacier aside, causing it to flow rapidly toward the front of the 1980 breach; flow continues today.

Scientists at the U.S. Geological Survey’s Cascades Volcano Observatory and its partners used many techniques during the 2004-2008 eruption to monitor the volcano, including interpretation of seismicity, ground deformation, thermal imaging, and lava sampling.  By monitoring Mount St. Helens, scientists are better able to understand the volcano’s behavior, to assess hazards and potential impacts, and to provide timely warnings of future events.

What: Media availability for interviews: Interview topics may include remembering the events of the volcano’s dramatic reawakening 10 years ago this week, what scientists have learned from more than three decades research at Mount St. Helens, and evidence that the supply of magma beneath the volcano is recharging. Mobile cameras and recording devices are welcome at the Cascades Volcano Observatory. A new four-minute video highlighting monitoring efforts during the 2004-2008 will be available.

Who: USGS-CVO scientists:

Cynthia Gardner, geologist
Dan Dzurisin, geologist
Seth Moran, seismologist

When: Thursday, September 25, 2014, CVO scientists will be available between the hours of 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. PDT, for media interviews.

Where:  USGS-Cascades Volcano Observatory, 1300 SE Cardinal Court, Building 10, Vancouver, Washington

RSVP:

To lwestby@usgs.gov if participating, along with an estimated time of arrival and duration of interview.

Author: "OC_Web@usgs.gov (Office of Communications and Publishing)" Tags: "PR, NR2014_09_24 volcano hazard MountStH..."
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Date: Wednesday, 24 Sep 2014 16:00
Summary: In Oregon, congressional funding for the U.S. Geological Survey’s National Streamflow Information Program will substantially improve local, state and federal officials’ ability to forecast floods, allocate water and help the public plan for outdoor recreation

Contact Information:

John  Williams ( Phone: 503-251-3220 ); Paul Laustsen ( Phone: 650-329-4046 );




PORTLAND, Ore. — In Oregon, congressional funding for the U.S. Geological Survey’s National Streamflow Information Program will substantially improve local, state and federal officials’ ability to forecast floods, allocate water and help the public plan for outdoor recreation. The USGS is investing in monitoring instruments used to continuously measure streamflow and other water data. Earlier this year, Congress provided $6 million in additional funding for NSIP. Oregon’s share of that new funding, $222,619, will be applied to 12 streamgages throughout the state.

Used for a variety of purposes, USGS streamgages can save lives and greatly reduce economic loss. For example, the National Weather Service will use data from the recently funded streamgages in northwest Oregon and along the state’s southern coast to help notify communities in those areas about potential flood impacts.

“USGS streamgages are critical to our river forecast and flood warning program,” said NWS hydrologist Andy Bryant, “The data provided by recently funded NSIP streamgages on the Sandy River below Bull Run, Rogue River at Wedderburn, Rogue River above Prospect, and the Chetco River at Brookings, along with other NSIP-funded gages, will expand our ability to deliver forecasts and warnings to areas impacted by flood events.”

“USGS NSIP is making progress on its goal of a federally-funded framework of streamgages across the nation,” said James Crammond, Director of the USGS Oregon Water Science Center. “In Oregon, the majority of our gages are jointly funded by the USGS and our state, tribal, municipal and federal partners. Growth in the NSIP program stabilizes our existing network, relieves financial pressure on our partners, and makes possible new investments in hydrologic data collection. USGS remains committed to timely, useful, high quality water information that serves the people of Oregon and the nation.”

Two additional streamgages that will be supported by the recent USGS NSIP funding—one on the Columbia near Vancouver, Washington, and another near the Beaver Army Terminal downstream—are critical to navigation, recreation and streamflow forecasting, and will be used in a separate project to estimate suspended sediment loads.

Other gages supported by the increase in NSIP funds include those on the North and South Forks of the Coquille River as well as the Coquille River at Coquille.

USGS NSIP now fully funds the streamgages on the Rogue River at Wedderburn and above Prospect. Data from those streamgages are essential to forecasters, modelers and outdoor recreationists.

USGS NSIP streamgages are part of a nationwide backbone network designed to meet national needs for streamflow information. Funding for NSIP ensures full federal support for critical streamgages in Oregon and nationwide. The increased USGS NSIP funding strengthens Oregon’s network of more than 300 real-time streamgages. The program currently funds 51 of those streamgages, with an ultimate goal of fully funding all 182 Oregon NSIP streamgages.

Real-time data from Oregon streamgages, including those covered by the new funding, is available on the USGS Oregon Water Science Center website

Author: "OC_Web@usgs.gov (Office of Communications and Publishing)" Tags: "PR, Oregon WaterQuality streamgages Wate..."
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Date: Tuesday, 23 Sep 2014 18:18
Summary: Four whooping crane chicks raised in captivity began their integration into the wild Saturday as part of the continuing effort to increase the wild population of this endangered species

Efforts continue to increase population of endangered bird

Contact Information:

John  French ( Phone: 301-452-0497 ); Christian Quintero ( Phone: 813-498-5019 );




NECEDAH, Wis.Four whooping crane chicks raised in captivity began their integration into the wild Saturday as part of the continuing effort to increase the wild population of this endangered species.

The cranes, hatched and raised by their parents at the U.S. Geological Survey’s Patuxent Wildlife Research Center in Laurel, Maryland, were released on the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Necedah National Wildlife Refuge in Wisconsin.

The chicks, about six-months old, are part of an experimental rearing and release method referred to as “parent-rearing.”  The parent-reared whooping crane chicks were hatched and raised by captive adult whooping cranes. This method relies entirely on the expertise of captive parents, who care for, exercise, and feed the chicks.

These chicks will join a flock of about 95 cranes that inhabit wetlands on the refuge and elsewhere in central Wisconsin during the spring and summer.  The flock is composed of cranes reintroduced into the wild in order to establish a migratory flock of whooping cranes in the eastern United States.  The Eastern Migratory Flock flies south to wetlands in the Southeast United States for the winter.  The USGS Patuxent Wildlife Research Center also raises chicks for release into a newly established non-migratory flock in the wetlands of Southwest Louisiana.

“Over the past 13 years, USGS biologists – dressed in costumes to avoid having the birds “imprint” on people -- have raised between five and 20 whooping crane chicks annually that have been released into the Eastern Migratory Flock,” said John French, leader of the USGS whooping crane project at Patuxent.  “This new method of allowing captive adult cranes rear the chicks prior to release into the wild is intended to evaluate the effects of rearing by humans in costume, which is obviously an odd condition.  Parent rearing may result in the chicks learning behavior important to their survival and reproduction.”

While the parent-rearing method has been used previously with sandhill cranes in Mississippi and whooping cranes in Florida, this is only the second year it has been attempted with a migratory population. 

“Our refuge has a long history of helping with the successful reintroduction of endangered or threatened bird species to the area,” said Doug Staller, Necedah National Wildlife Refuge manager. “Necedah is the summer home for the bulk of the Eastern Migratory Flock of whooping cranes, some of which are breeding, and provides a unique and important opportunity to learn more about these endangered birds. It was only natural for us to be involved in the parent rearing effort.”

The parent-reared chicks arrived at Necedah NWR Saturday, where they were housed in separate predator resistant enclosures to provide them a safe place for chicks to roost while they acclimated to their new surroundings near other free-ranging whooping cranes.

The pens are located in the vicinity of pairs of adult whooping cranes without chicks of their own.  Such pairs have a tendency to adopt other chicks, and when adopted, will lead them south during migration, which begins at the end of October.

In addition to the four parent-reared chicks released at Necedah NWR, seven costumed-reared whooping crane chicks will join the eastern migratory flock this year as well.  The chicks were raised in captivity by costumed handlers and have been imprinted on an ultralight aircraft.  They will earn the migration route by following the ultralight from White River Marsh in Wisconsin to the Gulf Coast of Florida.  More information on the migration will be available when it begins in October.

All of the releases of whooping cranes in Wisconsin add to the Eastern Migratory Flock, a reintroduction project undertaken by a broad coalition of Federal, state, and NGO partners belonging to the Whooping Crane Eastern Partnership.

At one point in the past, researchers believe the Whooping crane population dropped to fewer than two-dozen birds.  Today the population is estimated to be approximately 425 in the wild, with another 125 in captivity.

  

Author: "OC_Web@usgs.gov (Office of Communications and Publishing)" Tags: "PR, whoopingCranes endangered Endangered..."
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Date: Tuesday, 23 Sep 2014 16:00
Summary: Scientists examined storm flooding events in the Bering Sea region of western Alaska from 1913 to 2011 and found that the largest events occurred in autumn and were associated with high tides and strong southwest winds

Contact Information:

Craig Ely ( Phone: 907-786-7182 ); Paul  Laustsen ( Phone: 650-329-4046 );




ANCHORAGE, Alaska — Scientists examined storm flooding events in the Bering Sea region of western Alaska from 1913 to 2011 and found that the largest events occurred in autumn and were associated with high tides and strong southwest winds. By compiling historical observations and recent tide gage data, mapping drift lines on the tundra, and analyzing satellite imagery, detailed information useful for land-use planning is now available. 

Coastal regions of Alaska are regularly impacted by intense storms, the frequency and intensity of which are expected to increase as a result of climate change. In this region lies the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta, one of the largest deltaic systems in North America, and home to thousands of Native Yup’ik and Cup’ik Alaskans and the birds, fish, and marine mammals they depend on for nutritional and cultural values.  The low relief of the YKD makes it especially susceptible to storm-driven flood tides and increases in sea level.

“The largest recent floods occurred in 2005, 2006, and 2011 and elders recollected the worst flooding was caused by a storm in 1931. The recent storms sent salt water inland almost 20 miles, covering nearly 40 percent of the area of the Yukon Delta we examined,” said Dr. Craig Ely, a Research Wildlife Biologist with the U.S. Geological Survey and co-author of the study.

The study discusses how past and future impacts of storm surges affect human and wildlife communities in the area. Long-term weather records indicate that storms large enough to inundate and threaten coastal areas have occurred regularly on the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta over the past century. Several historically abandoned village sites lie within the area covered by the largest flood events.

“Future flooding may have impacts on freshwater ponds and vegetation, and accelerate the rates of permafrost degradation and landscape change with serious consequences to local people and wildlife resources,” said Torre Jorgenson, a landscape ecologist and adjunct professor at the University of Alaska Fairbanks and co-author of the study.

The findings of the study are in the most recent issue of the journal, Arctic and the paper is entitled, “Storm-surge flooding on the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta, Alaska.” An abstract of the paper can be viewed online. 

Location of study site in western Alaska and Radarsat-1 satellite images of the Hazen Bay coast during low water in July 2005 (upper left), and during extensive flooding from a storm surge in September 2005 (upper right).
Location of study site in western Alaska and Radarsat-1 satellite images of the Hazen Bay coast during low water in July 2005 (upper left), and during extensive flooding from a storm surge in September 2005 (upper right). (High resolution image)
Author: "OC_Web@usgs.gov (Office of Communications and Publishing)" Tags: "PR, Alaska floods naturalhazards BeringS..."
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Date: Tuesday, 23 Sep 2014 13:00
Summary: Celebrate the third annual Geologic Map Day! On October 17, as a part of the Earth Science Week 2014 activities, join leading geoscience organizations in promoting awareness of the importance of geologic mapping to society

The U.S. Geological Survey is partnering with the American Geosciences Institute, the Association of American State Geologists and others to promote the importance of geologic mapping to society.

Contact Information:

Douglas Howard ( Phone: 703-648-6978 ); Geoff Camphire, AGI ( Phone: 703-379-2480, x216 ); Mark Newell, APR ( Phone: 573-308-3850 );




Celebrate the third annual Geologic Map Day! On October 17, as a part of the Earth Science Week 2014 activities, join leading geoscience organizations in promoting awareness of the importance of geologic mapping to society.

Geologic maps are vital to education, science, business, and public policy concerns. Geologic Map Day will focus the attention of students, teachers, and the general public on the study, uses, and significance of these tools, by engaging audiences through educational activities, print materials, online resources, and public outreach opportunities.

Be sure to check out the Geologic Map Day poster included in this year’s Earth Science Week Toolkit. The poster and other materials in the kit show how geologic maps can be used to understand natural hazards as well as providing step-by-step instructions for a related classroom activity focusing on the Grand Canyon. Additional resources for learning about geologic maps can be found on the Geologic Map Day web page.

Geologic Map Day partners include the American Geosciences Institute (AGI), the Association of American State Geologists, the U.S. Geological Survey, the National Park Service, the Geological Society of America, and Esri.

To learn more, please visit www.earthsciweek.org/. To order your Toolkits, please visit www.earthsciweek.org/materials/. You may also call AGI Publications to place your order at 703-379-2480. 

For more information, go to:  http://www.earthsciweek.org/geologicmap/

Geologic map of the conterminous United States at 1:2,500,000 scale.
Geologic map of the conterminous United States at 1:2,500,000 scale. (High resolution image)
Author: "OC_Web@usgs.gov (Office of Communications and Publishing)" Tags: "PR, CoreScienceSystemsNationalCooperativ..."
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Date: Monday, 22 Sep 2014 14:00
Summary: Pharmaceuticals and other contaminants from treated municipal wastewater can travel into shallow groundwater following their release to streams, according to a recent USGS study

Contact Information:

Alex Demas ( Phone: 703-648-4421 ); Dana Kolpin ( Phone: 319-358-3614 );




Pharmaceuticals and other contaminants from treated municipal wastewater can travel into shallow groundwater following their release to streams, according to a recent USGS study. The research was conducted at Fourmile Creek, a small, wastewater-dominated stream near Des Moines, Iowa.

 “Water level measurements obtained during this study clearly show that stream levels drive daily trends in groundwater levels. Combined with the detection of pharmaceuticals in groundwater collected several meters away from the stream, these results demonstrate that addition of wastewater to this stream results in unintentional, directed transport of pharmaceuticals into shallow groundwater,” said Paul Bradley, the study’s lead author.

Samples for the study were taken from Fourmile Creek during the months of October and December of 2012. In October, the wastewater made up about 99 percent of the stream’s flow, whereas in December, the wastewater made up about 71 percent of the stream’s flow. During both months, Fourmile Creek experienced persistent dry conditions.

Pharmaceuticals and other wastewater contaminants are most likely to contaminate adjacent shallow groundwater systems during dry conditions when wastewater contributes the greatest proportion to streamflow.

The samples from the stream and groundwater were analyzed for 110 pharmaceutical compounds, as well as other chemicals like personal care products and hormones. These compounds are able to move into the groundwater systems because they remain dissolved in the water, rather than attaching themselves to the sediments that filter other chemicals out of the water as it moves from the stream into adjacent groundwater. There were no sources of these pharmaceuticals to groundwater in the study reach other than municipal wastewater in the stream.

This study found that 48 and 61 different pharmaceuticals were present in the stream downstream of the wastewater discharge point during the two periods of study, with concentrations as high as 7,810 parts-per-trillion (specifically the chemical metformin, an anti-diabetic pharmaceutical). Correspondingly, between 7 and 18 pharmaceuticals were present in groundwater at a distance of about 65 feet (20 meters) from the stream bank, with concentrations as high as 87 parts-per-trillion (specifically fexofenadine, an antihistamine pharmaceutical).  

“This research has important implications for the application of bank filtration for indirect water reuse,” said Bradley. Bank filtration is the engineered movement of water between surface water bodies and wells located a short distance away on the streambank. Bank filtration is routinely used to pretreat surface-water for drinking water supply (raw surface water moves from the stream to a shallow groundwater extraction well), or as a final polishing step for the release of treated wastewater (treated wastewater moves from infiltration wells or lagoons through the bank to the stream).

This study is part of a long-term effort to determine the fate and effects of contaminants of emerging concern and to provide water-resource managers with objective information that assists in the development of effective water management practices. 

The paper is entitled “Riverbank filtration potential of pharmaceuticals in a wastewater-impacted stream” and has been published in Environmental Pollution. More information on this study and other studies on contaminants of emerging concern can be found here. To learn more about USGS environmental health science, please visit the USGS Environmental Health website and sign up for our GeoHealth Newsletter or our Environmental Health Headlines.

Author: "OC_Web@usgs.gov (Office of Communications and Publishing)" Tags: "TA, EnvironmentalHealthToxicSubstancesHy..."
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Date: Friday, 19 Sep 2014 19:31
Summary: The sixth of a series of handbooks on technologies for management of metal mining influenced water is now available online from the Society of Mining, Metallurgy & Exploration Inc

Contact Information:

Heidi  Koontz ( Phone: 303-202-4763 ); Kathy Smith ( Phone: 303-236-5788 );




The sixth of a series of handbooks on technologies for management of metal mining influenced water is now available online from the Society of Mining, Metallurgy & Exploration Inc.

“This volume was prepared through the Acid Drainage Technology Initiative–Metal Mining Sector (ADTI-MMS), which includes USGS mine drainage expertise, other federal and state agencies, industry, and academia, to develop a handbook with an approach for environmental sampling and characterization throughout the mine life cycle,” said Kathy Smith, U.S. Geological Survey research geologist and co-editor of the new publication. 

This handbook supplements and enhances current environmental mine sampling and monitoring literature and provides an awareness of the specialized approach necessary for environmental sampling and monitoring at mining sites. It differs from most information sources by providing an approach to address mining influenced water and other sampling media throughout the mine life cycle. 

Sampling and Monitoring for the Mine Life Cycle is organized into a main text and six appendices, including an appendix containing technical summaries written by subject-matter experts that describes various analytical, measurement and collection procedures. Sidebars and illustrations are included to provide additional detail about important concepts, to present examples and brief case studies and to suggest resources for further information. Extensive references are included. 

For more information about USGS minerals research, please visit the website.

Author: "OC_Web@usgs.gov (Office of Communications and Publishing)" Tags: "TA, EnergyandMinerals EnergyandMineralsM..."
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