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Ocean Research


March 2014 Issue

Teledyne RDI Seeks Proposals for Oceanographic Research
Teledyne RD Instruments (Poway, California) is offering the academic oceanographic community the opportunity to utilize the company's tools free of charge for a near-term deployment via Teledyne RDI's Academic Product Grant.

Proposals, due by April 15, should detail how applicants would use Teledyne RD Instruments' ADCPs and/or CTDs to improve their scientific research or environmental monitoring.

Awards will include six months total use of up to one each of the following instruments, depending upon the application: Sentinel V for self-contained, coastal current profiling and/or waves measurements, and/or Citadel CTD for conductivity, temperature and depth measurements.

Teledyne RDI's total product pool for this grant includes two Sentinel Vs and two Citadel CTDs. These instruments will be allocated individually, or in concert with each other, depending upon the winning grant configurations.

Applicants must be students that are currently affiliated with a recognized university or institution that is pursuing oceanographic studies. Proposed studies must be completed within a six-month period, with quantifiable results within three months.

For 2013, Teledyne RDI selected four grant awardees: Benjamin Neal for coral reef habitat characterization, Sara Walkup for ocean acidification impact on fish populations, Maxon Ngochera for quantifying carbon dioxide dynamics in a tropical lake, and Douglas Levin for Chesapeake Bay/River circulation.

Gulf of Mexico Sea Level Seasonal Fluctuations Intensifying
Around the globe, sea levels typically rise a little in summer and fall again in winter. A new study shows that, from the Florida Keys to southern Alabama, those fluctuations have been intensifying over the past 20 years. Summer peaks have been getting higher and winter troughs dipping lower, potentially increasing flooding from hurricanes and stressing delicate ecosystems, the researchers report.

The additional summer increase in sea levels over the past two decades means storm surges can rise higher than previously thought, increasing how much sea level rise contributes to the flooding risk from hurricanes.

Global sea levels rose by about 5 centimeters from 1993 to 2011 and the newfound trend of summer sea level rise has added approximately 5 centimeters on top of that in the eastern Gulf, the research team reports in Geophysical Research Letters.

Conversely, an increasingly downward, winter sea level trend along the eastern Gulf Coast has reduced the flood risk from winter storm surges. At the same time, the growing gap in the region between summer and winter sea levels might be disrupting coastal ecosystems.

The team studied the entire U.S. Gulf Coast but found the trend toward a greater summer-winter difference along eastern Gulf shores. Seasonal sea levels in the eastern Gulf of Mexico followed a steady cycle from the beginning of the 1900s to the 1990s, increasing in summer and dropping in winter by roughly the same amount year after year. But, starting in the 1990s, sea levels have gotten both higher in the summer and lower in the winter in the eastern Gulf, causing a significant amplification of the annual cycle.

The new work is the first to look at changes to the sea level cycle for the entire Gulf Coast region in the U.S. and the first to encounter such a trend. This increase over a period of almost 20 years is not found elsewhere.

ONR Announces Grant to Study Indian Ocean
The U.S. Office of Naval Research Global (ONR Global) announced a grant to the University of Melbourne that will provide new insights into ocean conditions—crucial information for Navy planners involved in tactical and strategic decision making.

The project is intended to improve understanding of conditions in the Indian Ocean, including validating satellite data on salinity levels. Confirming satellite findings with actual field-level research is an area scientists have deemed essential to improving the Navy's oceanographic models.

The research is being done in collaboration with Kenyan and Indian scientific organizations.

'The major goal of this kind of research is to be able to provide the best information possible on the environmental, or battlefield, conditions, so that tactical and strategic decisions can be properly made,' said Dr. Augustus Vogel, the ONR Global program manager coordinating the research. 'It is because of this kind of information that U.S. Navy ships can now more easily avoid hurricanes, typhoons and cyclones, for example.'

Vogel notes that improved understanding of data from satellites will give Navy planners more confidence in the information received.

'Field data are the best, but we can use satellites to study large areas that are not easily covered with a ship.'

California Researchers to Assess Coastal Vulnerability
Researchers from California's leading climatological and ecological programs received two grants totaling more than $278,000 from NOAA Climate Program Office's Coastal and Ocean Climate Applications (COCA) program and NOAA Sea Grant to conduct a coastal ecosystem vulnerability assessment in the Santa Barbara area. This vulnerability assessment will contribute to resilient ecosystems by providing information that coastal communities can use to plan for climate change impacts. Formally titled the 'Santa Barbara Area Coastal Ecosystem Vulnerability Assessment,' the researchers will work with city and county partners to develop a guidance document that informs climate adaptation planning. The document also will detail the process used to create an ecosystem-based vulnerability assessment for use in other regions.

Though some coastal areas are currently developing climate change vulnerability assessments with an emphasis on infrastructure and physical environments, this work will address impacts to ecological resources and adaptation measures for local government in the Santa Barbara region.

The final planning guidance document is expected to be available online in 2015.


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