201510fau-turtlesOctober 15, 2015 - Researchers from Florida Atlantic University have just published the results of a four-year study in the journal Endangered Species Research on the effects of turtle nest temperatures and sand temperatures and on hatchling sex.

"The shift in our climate is shifting turtles as well, because as the temperature of their nests change so do their reproduction patterns," said Jeanette Wyneken, Ph.D., professor of biological sciences in FAU’s Charles E. Schmidt College of Science. "The nesting beaches along Florida’s coast are important, because they produce the majority of the loggerhead hatchlings entering the northwestern Atlantic Ocean. If climatic changes continue to force the sex ratio bias of loggerheads to even greater extremes, we are going to lose the diversity of sea turtles as well as their overall ability to reproduce effectively. Sex ratios are already strongly female biased...that’s why it’s critical to understand how environmental factors, specifically temperature and rainfall, influence hatchling sex ratios."

FAU News Release

Endangered Species Research Article
201510amoOctober 15, 2015 - A new study from the University of Miami (UM) Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science (RSMAS) challenges the prevailing wisdom by identifying the atmosphere as the driver of a decades-long climate variation known as the Atlantic Multi-decadal Oscillation (AMO). The findings offer new insight on the causes and predictability of natural climate variations, which are known to cause wide-ranging global weather impacts, including increased rainfall, drought, and greater hurricane frequency in many parts of the Atlantic basin. For decades, research on climate variations in the Atlantic has focused almost exclusively on the role of ocean circulation as the main driver, specifically the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation, which carries warm water north in the upper layers of the ocean and cold water south in lower layers like a large conveyor belt.

“The idea of the ocean as the driver has been a powerful one.” said UM Rosenstiel School Professor Amy Clement, the lead author on the study. We used computer models in a new way to test this idea, and find that in fact there is a lot that can be explained without the ocean circulation.”

UM RSAMS News Release

Science Article

YouTube Video
201510fiu-predatorsOctober 12, 2015 - When it comes to mitigating climate change, marine predators could be a key factor. Coastal habitats full of vegetation, including seagrass beds, salt marshes and mangroves, are some of the best absorbers of atmospheric carbon dioxide, according to FIU marine scientists Mike Heithaus and James Fourqurean. Coastal habitats bury carbon 40 times faster than tropical forests. These same habitats are believed to store as much as 25 billion tons of carbon, making them the most carbon-rich ecosystems on the planet. Yet, when the predator population is low, these areas fall victim to overgrazing and sediment disruption. The findings were published this week by Nature Climate Change.

FIU News Release

Nature Climate Change Article
201510fiu-remaOctober 5, 2015 - Every dollar spent in actions to reduce disaster losses saves the nation $4 in damages. To build climate change resiliency, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) partnered with FIU to provide local community leaders with the knowledge and tools to assess and improve their capabilities to prevent, mitigate, respond to and recover from climate impacts, including sea level rise, drought and wildfires, heatwaves, floods, powerful storms and other hazards. FEMA’s National Exercise Division and FIU’s Sea Level Solutions Center and Southeast Environmental Research Center hosted a seminar Sept. 21-22 that brought together public, private and nonprofit sector decision makers from Miami-Dade and Broward counties. The White House named FIU as the host for the pilot seminar earlier this summer. It will set the stage for building a sustainable, “Climate Adaptation, Preparedness and Resilience Seminar” program across the country.

FIU News Release
201510fit-crabOctober 2, 2015 - King crabs may soon become high-level predators in Antarctic marine ecosystems where they haven’t played a role in tens of millions of years, according to a new study led by Florida Institute of Technology. “No Barrier to Emergence of Bathyal King Crabs on the Antarctic Shelf,” published online in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, ties the reappearance of these crabs to global warming. Lead author Richard Aronson, professor and head of Florida Tech’s Department of Biological Sciences, said the rising temperature of the ocean west of the Antarctic Peninsula – one of the most rapidly warming places on the planet – should make it possible for king crab populations to move to the shallow continental shelf from their current deep-sea habitat within the next several decades.

FIT News Release

PNAS Journal Article

Photo courtesy of Richard B. Aronson and James B. McClintock.
201510um-coralOctober 2, 2015 - A new study found that a nutrient-rich, balanced diet is beneficial to corals during stressful thermal events. The research led by scientists at the University of Miami (UM) Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science and the Centre Scientifique de Monaco concluded that the particular nutrient balance in seawater is what matters most. "We found that the coral's resilience to thermal stress totally depends on the kind of inorganic enrichment -- if it's 'balanced' or not," said Erica Towle, an alumna of the UM Rosenstiel School.

UM News Release

Limnology and Oceanography Journal Article

Photo credit: Erica Towle, Ph.D.
201509indigenousSeptember 30, 2015 - Simone Athayde (UF) and colleagues have released a short video on Indigenous Peoples and Disaster Risk Reduction, co-produced with Maskoke and Seminole representatives in Florida: https://vimeo.com/138904196

Dr. Athayde thanks everyone who contributed to this project, as well as the institutions START, TCD/UF, IRDR/Taipeiand ISSC for the support. A corresponding website is also up, and has the link to the video as well as additional information on related work and case-studies (including indigenous peoples and dams in the Amazon): http://www.indigenousknowledgenetwork.org
logo-fit-wordsSeptember 30, 2015 - The Florida Institute of Technology (FIT) is formally joining the Florida Climate Institute as our 9th member institution! The FIT branch of the FCI will be led by Drs. Robert van Woesik and Mark Bush, both of FIT's Department of Biological Sciences.

The Institute for Research on Global Climate Change at Florida Tech will provide the science to forecast the ecological and societal effects of climate change in the State of Florida and beyond. The Institute will focus on unifying and the unique aspect of faculty research that encompasses three distinct ecological assemblages: tropical rain forests, corals reefs, and the Antarctica.

Drs. van Woesik and Bush say they are "looking forward to working with the Florida Climate Institute. The timing of such a collaboration is perfect. Over the next six months, the current 2015-2016 El Nino event may deliver some of the highest tropical and subtropical temperatures on record. We will be evaluating the reef response; corals in the Florida Keys are already bleached white from temperature stress."
September 30, 2015 - To promote public engagement with the topic of sea-level rise, Florida Atlantic University’s Center for Environmental Studies (CES) invites the South Florida community to document their personal experience with King Tide October 26th-28th. Winning entries will be posted on Facebook and the six best photographers will be invited to participate in a Sea-Level Rise Expedition highlighting challenges and solutions in South Florida in relation to sea-level rise. Winners will be announced November 6th.

For more information visit https://www.facebook.com/SeaLevelRiseSummit
September 30, 2015 - Florida Atlantic University (FAU) is receiving new funding to support the following projects:

(1) Support from Florida Sea Grant’s ADaPT: Adaptation Design and Planning Tool for Urban Areas in the Coastal Zone program will allow Jeff Huber’s team of FAU researchers to go “beyond simple stormwater management infrastructure engineering and design to create a unique comprehensive strategy that links isolated research into a meta-disciplinary platform or framework—one which leverages, engineering, ecological and social sciences, and urban design to reward greater resilient planning while enhancing livability.” Award amount: $280,000.

(2) Jeff Huber also secured a National Endowment for the Arts “Our Town” Grant with the City of Fort Lauderdale entitled “Botanizing the Asphalt of North Beach Village: Integrating Public Art and Resilient Design.” The $50,000 grant is currently being developed in the School of Architecture at Florida Atlantic University.

(3) In a collaborative research project with Lehigh University, Diana Mitsova-Boneva at FAU was awarded an NSF Grant for CRISP Type 2/Collaborative Research: Probabilistic Resilience Assessment of Interdependent Systems (PRAISys) in the amount of $296,793. The development, calibration, and validation of PRAISys will enable research on stochastic interdependencies among infrastructure systems in the wake of an extreme event such as an earthquake or severe storm, in which the socio-economic recovery of the affected region depends on the recovery of its infrastructure systems.

(4) Thanks to an NSF grant under the Coastal SEES program, a team of researchers led by PI Colin Polsky will continue work on the question “How will feedbacks between marsh response to SLR and human adaptation responses to potential marsh loss affect the overall sustainability of the combined socio-ecological systems?” An inter-disciplinary program is proposed that leverages the long-term data, experiments and modeling tools at 3 Atlantic Coast Long-Term Ecological Research sites (in MA, VA, GA). FAU has been awarded $148,571 for its portion of work on the project.
201509vectorborne-diseaseSeptember 30, 2015 - A new 5 year multi-institutional collaborative research grant of $1.85 million funded by the National Science Foundation’s Ecology and Evolution of Infectious Diseases (NSF EEID) program will support research on the effect of temperature on 13 different diseases that use insects for transmission. It will also measure the capacity for two common disease-carrying mosquitoes in the Americas to adapt to new (or changing) temperatures. FCI affiliates Dr. Sadie Ryan (UF), Dr. Leah Johnson (USF), and Dr. Jason Rohr (USF) are three of the investigators on the project.

Many of the world’s most devastating and neglected infectious diseases are spread to people by mosquitoes and other insects. Malaria, a mosquito-transmitted parasite, kills over 650,000 people each year. Dengue fever, an incurable mosquito-borne virus, infects around 400 million people annually, a rate which has grown dramatically in recent decades. With limited options for medical treatment or vaccination, preventing infection is the best way to control these diseases. This approach requires understanding—and predicting—how the climate affects mosquitoes and the diseases they carry.

“If we want to predict the spread of mosquito-transmitted diseases, we have to learn how these insects and pathogens respond to the environment and changing climate,” says Dr. Sadie Ryan, Assistant Professor of Medical Geography at the University of Florida and co-principal investigator on the project. “We will improve on our existing predictive models by validating them with real data. Integrating field data on local conditions with mapped model predictions will enable us to understand the multiscalar dynamics of climate-disease relationships.”

September 25, 2015 - A joint project of the Association of State Flood Plain Managers (ASFPM) and Coastal States Organization (CSO) invited Florida Sea Grant’s Thomas Ruppert to serve on a 13-person Project Advisory Committee for the project “Improving Community Resiliency through the NFIP / CRS.” The project is being funded by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation as part of the Hurricane Sandy Coastal Resiliency Competitive Grants Program. The project’s goal is to improve participation in the FEMA Community Rating System (CRS) program by developing new tools to inspire communities to join the CRS and help participating communities enhance their score while strengthening floodplain ecosystems. The project will conduct interviews with floodplain managers and officials from communities around the United States as part of the development of a “CRS Green Guide.” The Guide will serve as a roadmap for communities to implement best practices that contribute to CRS points and also improve the natural functions of floodplain ecosystems, leading to improved community resilience.

The advisory committee serves as an independent observer, advisor, and reviewer of the research design, results, and tools developed as part of the project. PAC members have been selected based on coastal management, floodplain management and/or CRS program experience. Other advisory committee members include representatives from offices of the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration, state offices such as state floodplain managers, private consultants, city planners, and FEMA’s Mitigation Directorate.

See also:

Deady, E. L., & Ruppert, T. (2015). The Link Between Future Flood Risk and Comprehensive Planning. ELULS Section Reporter, 37(1), 7–14.
201509uf-reptilesSeptember 14, 2015 - South Florida is on the front lines in the war against invasive reptiles and amphibians because its warm climate makes it a place where they like to live, a new University of Florida study shows. Using computer models and data showing where reptiles live in Florida, UF/IFAS scientists predicted where they could find non-native species in the future. They found that as temperatures climb, areas grow more vulnerable to invasions by exotic reptiles. Conversely, they found that extreme cold temperatures protect against invasion.

"Early detection and rapid response efforts are essential to prevent more of the 140 introduced species from establishing breeding populations, and this study helps us choose where to look first," said Frank Mazzotti, a wildlife ecology and conservation professor at the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences Fort Lauderdale Research and Education Center. The new study is published online in the journal Herpetological Conservation Biology. Lead author Ikuko Fujisaki, an assistant professor of wildlife ecology and conservation at the Fort Lauderdale REC, said scientists conducted the study to provide scientific data for managing invasive wildlife in the Sunshine State.

UF Press Release

Herpetological Conservation Biology Journal Article
201509north-poleSeptember 11, 2015 - Three Florida State University researchers are part of the scientific team on board a U.S. Coast Guard icebreaker that became the first American ship to make a solo trip to the North Pole. Professor of Chemical Oceanography William Landing, National High Magnetic Field Lab assistant scholar scientist Peter Morton, and post doctoral researcher Neil Wyatt are part of the 145 member crew and science party aboard the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Healy, which left Alaska Aug. 9 for the North Pole. The expedition is in support of GEOTRACES, an international effort funded by the National Science Foundation to study the geochemistry of the world’s oceans. The data collected by scientists will be essential to understanding how the Arctic works.

FSU Press Release

Huffington Post Article
201509hughesSeptember 2, 2015 - A new Florida State University study is giving researchers a glimpse at how organisms from fish to flowers to tumors evolve in response to rapid environmental change. The findings could have a broad ripple effect on a number of research areas, including climate change and cancer treatment. And it's all because of guppies.

FSU Professor of Biological Science Kimberly Hughes and a team of researchers set out to find how this tiny tropical fish would evolve if they transplanted wild Trinidadian guppy fish from a stream with predatory fish into two-predator-free streams. Because guppies reproduce multiple times in a year, they were able to track three to four generations of the fish living in a predator-free zone. The findings, published today in the academic journal Nature, were staggering.

By sequencing genetic material in the guppies' brains, researchers found that 135 genes evolved in response to the new environment. Most of the changes in the gene expression were internal and dealt with a fish's biological processes such as metabolism, immune function and development. But more importantly, the immediate response of genes to change in the environment did not reflect the eventual evolutionary change. Genes can change their activity levels in an immediate response to the environment -- what evolutionary biologists call plasticity -- or in an evolutionary response that occurs over many generations. What Hughes and her colleagues found was that the evolutionary change in gene activity was usually opposite in direction to the immediate plasticity of gene activity. A gene that had changed in response to drastic change in the environment would then evolve in the opposite direction after a few generations.

FSU Press Release

Nature Journal Article
201508um-nsfAugust 26, 2015 - A consortium of 14 U.S. academic institutions received a $12-million award from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to address challenges that threaten urban water systems in the United States and around the world. University of Miami (UM) Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science researchers David Letson and Kenny Broad are among the network’s principal investigators. The newly established Urban Water Innovation Network (UWIN), led by Colorado State University, will create technological, institutional, and management solutions to help communities increase the resilience of their water systems and enhance preparedness for responding to water crises. UM Rosenstiel School Professors of Marine Ecosystems and Society Letson and Broad will help design innovative technological solutions, such as green infrastructure, sustainable urban drainage networks, and floodplains that can enhance the sustainability of water systems across urban water systems and measure the impacts of these solutions.

UM Press Release

Photo credit: Credit: Arianna Prothero WLRN
201508fiu-slr-centerAugust 25, 2015 - With rising seas threatening coastal communities all across the world, Florida International University has launched the Sea Level Solutions Center to help people understand, adapt and persevere. FIU ecologist Tiffany Troxler will serve as director. The center combines expertise in the natural, physical and social sciences, along with architecture, engineering, computer sciences, law, communications, business, health and tourism management to develop long-term strategies in the face of rising seas. FIU’s Miami location will be key in advancing the center’s mission. South Florida is particularly vulnerable because of the large number of assets exposed to the effects of sea level rise.

"Rising seas are a topic of grave concern around the world, and most societies will feel the effects," said FIU President Mark B. Rosenberg. WWhile successful adaptation to sea level rise is local in nature, it will take international, national, regional, as well as local cooperation to develop and implement the necessary policies and strategies to address this global threat."

The FIU Sea Level Solutions Center will focus on envisioning and designing safe, resilient, prosperous and sustainable 22nd century coastal communities by focusing on the science behind the rising seas, preservation of governance systems, infrastructure challenges and solutions, business impacts, supply chain challenges, ecosystem dependencies, and personal assets. It will work with local governments, business and community leaders to accelerate adaption planning.

FIU Press Release
August 25, 2015 - Wasting fresh water is a real concern. A recent study conducted with homeowners in central Florida found that, on average, 64 percent of the drinking water used by homes went to irrigation. In the summer months, this percentage increased to 88 percent. As the population increases, conservation of fresh water becomes increasingly important. The Special Issue Section of the current Technology and Innovation Journal of the National Academy of Inventors focuses on challenges to fresh water from environmental changes and from the human population. Florida homeowners—ready and willing to comply with government agency-imposed lawn watering restrictions—want to conserve water, although many are confused about how to conserve water. At the same time, many homeowners are also required to have perfect, green lawns or risk being penalized by their Home Owner's Associations (HOAs).

USF Press Release

Technology and Innovation Article
clarke-allanchanton-jeffAugust 12, 2015 - Two Florida State University oceanography professors have been named fellows of the American Geophysical Union (AGU), a professional scientific organization representing scientists in 139 countries. Allan Clarke, the Adrian E. Gill Professor of Oceanography, and Jeffrey Chanton, the John Widmer Winchester Professor of Oceanography, were selected for the fellow designation by their peers in the organization for outstanding contributions to earth and space sciences.

Clarke focuses on understanding and predicting the El Niño/Southern Oscillation (ENSO). Generated by air/sea interaction in the central equatorial Pacific, ENSO is the major factor causing short-term climate variability on earth. Chanton focuses on the gas methane, which is an important trace gas produced by microbes involved in earth’s carbon cycle. It has led him to do work on climate change and more recently, the BP oil spill.

FSU Press Release

About the AGU Fellow Program