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June 3, 2015 - First impressions are important. So much so that even armed with new information, many people won’t change their minds about genetically modified foods and global warming, a new University of Florida study led by Brandon McFadden shows. Study participants were asked to assess the extent to which they believe human involvement caused global warming. They were given choices ranging from “much less involved” to “much more involved.” The study showed that before they received the information, 64 percent believed human actions are causing global warming; 18 percent were not sure and 18 percent did not believe human actions are to blame. After receiving scientific information about global warming, about 50 percent of participants believed even more strongly that human actions lead to global warming, while 44 percent were not swayed by the information, the study showed. "Possibly, the best indicator for whether a person will adopt scientific information is simply what a person believes before receiving the information," McFadden said.

UF Press Release

Food Policy Journal Article
201506misra-hurricaneJune 3, 2015 - In an article in The Conversation, Drs. Vasu Misra and Mark Powell (FSU) discuss a new method they've developed to project a hurricane’s strength that takes into account the size of the tropical cyclone. Their method, called the Integrated Kinetic Energy (IKE) index, considers the distribution of the surface wind speed around the center of the storm, unlike the traditional Saffir-Simpson scale that depends on a point measurement of the maximum wind speed. By measuring total energy, they can make a better prediction as to destructive potential as opposed to just looking at wind speed at a single point location.

The Conversation Article
misra-vasuJune 2, 2015 - Popular opinion says that tropical storms and hurricanes that make landfall mitigate droughts in the southeastern United States. But that simply isn’t true, according to a Florida State University researcher. Vasu Misra, associate professor of meteorology and co-director of the FCI and FSU, disputed the commonly held belief in an article published in the journal Climate Dynamics. “The perception that land-falling tropical cyclones serve to replenish the terrestrial water sources in many of the small watersheds in the southeastern U.S. seems to be a myth,” Misra said. “This perception is widespread because the southeastern United States has the largest share of land-falling tropical cyclones in the country.” Misra and Satish Bastola from Georgia Institute of Technology examined historical rainfall records and from that, created a soil moisture-based drought index for 28 watersheds across the southeastern United States for a 58-year period. They then reconstructed the database by eliminating the rainfall on days when a tropical storm or hurricane had made landfall. The end result? Soil moisture levels in these watersheds remained about the same.

FSU Press Release

Climate Dynamics Journal Article
201506summer-fauMay 29, 2015 - Summertime promises no slowdown of activity at FAU’s Center for Environmental Studies (CES). The popular US Geological Survey series of technical meetings continues with two timely and informative events on the FAU Davie Campus. And for those researching or adapting to sea-level rise, CES announces its ongoing service, Sea-Level Rise Expeditions offered throughout South Florida.

Precipitation Downscaling
On June 22 & 23, 2015, USGS-FAU Precipitation Downscaling Technical Meeting aims to communicate state-of-the-art downscaling science in order to improve Everglades science and restoration. Modelers and downscalers will present salient and credible modeling and monitoring applications and discuss with other scientists and decision-makers what other products are needed. Dr. Michael E. Mann, a leading climate modeler from Penn State University, will share some of his insights. For more information contact Mary Beth Hartman at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or (954) 236-1203 and download the event flyer.

Sea-Level Rise Expeditions
Looking for a field trip? CES announces a resource for media, researchers and practitioners in the area of sea-level rise. Starting immediately, FAU/CES Sea Level Rise Expeditions bring you to the leading edge of current and future sea-level rise issues facing South Florida. CES offers half-day, full-day, and multi-day expeditions to the urban and natural environments of Monroe, Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach Counties. Tours showcase a range of impacts and opportunities resulting from sea-level rise from science and local government to business and Industry. FAU/CES SLR Expeditions are tailored to accommodate specific interests such as water infrastructure, tourism, real estate or trade concerns or a geographic focus on a specific city, county or the region. For more information contact Keren Bolter at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Invasive Species
Judging by the weather, September might still be considered summer in South Florida, and CES will end the season with a hot topic. The USGS-FAU Invasive Species Technical Meeting will convene academics, practitioners, scientists and decision-makers to explore two important questions: What are the next steps for risk assessment? And how do we collectively design an implementation strategy? Stay tuned for further information on the date and agenda for this two-day event. For more information contact Mary Beth Hartman at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or (954) 236-1203.

We look forward to seeing you on the FAU Davie Campus this summer.
201505data-workshopMay 28, 2015 - A workshop was organized by AgMIP and USDA and held during May 11-15 at the National Agricultural Library (NAL) in Beltsville, MD. Fifty-five participants attended the week-long workshop.

The goals of the workshop were to understand how to harmonize agricultural data collected from sites across the USA, demonstrate how a National Agricultural Data Network (NADN) might work, develop ideas for a roadmap on how to create such a network, and make recommendations to the USDA for developing an operational data network. Specific objectives were to:
1) Implement a prototype system to harmonize databases from representative NIFA and ARS projects that will make data accessible, usable, and interoperable for multiple crop models and other analyses;
2) Expand AgMIP IT tools used to operate multiple crop models to include nitrogen and phosphorus inputs and outputs and to complete translators for additional US-based cropping system models;
3) Select and document metadata and minimum variables that should be included in harmonizing data in other USDA research areas (e.g., dairy, beef, Life Cycle Assessment, and biofuels);
4) Create recommendations for USDA and a draft roadmap that will lead to broader harmonization of data with capabilities for on-line publication of harmonized, discoverable, accessible, and usable datasets.

The workshop was highly successful. An AgMIP database node was implemented on the server at the NAL with datasets from seven locations across the US harmonized as a prototype. A shared vision was developed for a “distributed network of linked, compatible agricultural databases into which researchers provide data that are easily shared among users with maximum impact of contributions and harmonized for easy discovery, open access and usability in models and statistical analyses.” The complexity of agricultural challenges facing the nation and the world are such that agricultural data stewardship and advanced tools are needed to enable sustainable production that can meet future national and international food, fiber, and bioenergy needs. A National Agricultural Data Network will accelerate progress towards sustainability and resilience to a changing climate by greatly enhancing the efficiency with which data from USDA projects are applied to research on agricultural systems analysis and modeling. A Roadmap for developing the NADN was provided to USDA along with recommendations.

For a full report, visit the AgMIP site at www.agmip.org
201505rriiMay 28, 2015 - On July 20-22, 2015, the Southeast Florida Regional Climate Change Compact (“the Compact”) will convene Resilient Redesign II in collaboration with FCI. Hosted by the Florida Center for Environmental Studies on the FAU Davie Campus, the workshop will provide opportunities for researchers and practitioners to envision South Florida’s future. Architects, urban design experts, social scientists and regional planners will attend.

Last year’s workshop in Miami convened a collaboration of experts from the Netherlands and regional stakeholders met to design strategies intended to serve as models of resilience for communities throughout the region. In working group sessions, three case studies--Dense Urban, Urban, and Suburban—communities were examined for their ability to respond to climate change and disasters, among other pressures.

This time with contribution from FCI, the group will study new case studies including historical preservation sites impacted by sea-level rise and a goal to see these ideas through into action. Sites chosen for this year are locations in Key West in Monroe County, the City of Hollywood in Broward County, and Delray Beach in Palm Beach County. Teams may participate in an optional local site visits on July 19 and will then come together to develop site-specific resilient design solutions over the next two days. Presentations will be held on the morning of July 22 at the FAU Davie Campus.

In addition to the ongoing participation of FCI affiliates in various Compact Working Groups, the Resilient Redesign collaboration is another opportunity for the two partner organizations to respond to climate change issues and opportunities.

For more information on Resilient Redesign II, please contact Nancy Schneider at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..
201505um-cimasMay 22, 2015 - The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) awarded the Cooperative Institute for Marine and Atmospheric Studies (CIMAS) up to $125 million to fund the consortium’s activities over the next five years. CIMAS, which is based at the University of Miami (UM) Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science, brings together the research and educational resources of ten partner universities to increase scientific understanding of Earth’s oceans and atmosphere within the context of NOAA’s mission.

The renewal award, and increase in funding, was based upon an “Outstanding” rating CIMAS received during the current award period’s performance review (2010-2015) by a NOAA Science Advisory Board subcommittee. Under the new cooperative agreement, Florida Institute of Technology (FIT) has joined the Florida and Caribbean-based university consortium, which includes: Florida Atlantic University, Florida International University, Florida State University, Nova Southeastern University, University of Puerto Rico, University of Florida, University of South Florida and University of the Virgin Islands. "CIMAS has rapidly grown in recent years and now serves a much broader NOAA community in addressing NOAA’s climate, weather and ecosystem goals," said Peter Ortner, CIMAS director and research professor at the UM Rosenstiel School.

The cooperative institute’s current research priorities, which include: improved hurricane forecasting, facilitating the implementation of ecosystem-based ocean management, prediction of climate on increasingly short time scales and support of the Global Ocean Observing System, are expected to continue over the next five years.

UM Press Release

Miami Herald Article
201505elsner-hurricaneMay 19, 2015 - Climate change may be the driving force behind fewer, yet more powerful hurricanes and tropical storms, says a Florida State geography professor. In a paper published today by Nature Climate Change, Professor Jim Elsner (FSU) and his former graduate student Namyoung Kang found that rising ocean temperatures are having an effect on how many tropical storms and hurricanes develop each year. Elsner and Kang projected that over the past 30 years, storm speeds have increased on average by 1.3 meters per second — or 3 miles per hour — and there were 6.1 fewer storms than there would have been if land and water temperatures had remained constant.

FSU Press Release

Nature Climate Change Journal Article
uejio-chrisMay 12, 2015 - Extreme heat kills more people in the United States than hurricanes, with many victims succumbing to heat inside their own homes. Now, a Florida State University researcher will use an Environmental Protection Agency research grant to study health outcomes for people vulnerable to extreme building temperatures. Christopher Uejio, an assistant professor in the FSU Department of Geography, will be the principal investigator on the three-year, $500,000 EPA study, “Indoor Environment and Emergency Response Health Outcomes.” The study’s co-investigator is James Tamerius of the University of Iowa, one of three institutional partners in the research, along with the Fire Department of the City of New York (FDNY) and Grady Emergency Medical Service (EMS) of Atlanta, Ga.

FSU Press Release
201505fjordMay 5, 2015 - In the effort to remove excess carbon dioxide from our atmosphere, mankind has an unlikely ally: fjords. The dramatic, glacier-carved inlets found from Alaska to Antarctica capture and store carbon better than other open-water marine systems, removing it from the atmosphere, says a University of Florida study published today in the journal Nature Geoscience. “Carbon sequestration is the big buzzword, but we’re still getting a handle on how it works,” said Thomas Bianchi, a UF geochemist on the team that made the discovery. In order to make informed land-use decisions and accurate climate predictions, “finding and understanding these hot spots is critical,” he said.

UF Press Release

Nature Geoscience Peer-Reviewed Journal Article

Related Nature Geoscience News & Views Article
201505coralMay 5, 2015 - Most people know the health benefits of taking daily supplements, but what about endangered corals? A new study led by University of Miami (UM) Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science researchers found that the critically endangered Staghorn coral may benefit from supplemental nutrition to mitigate the adverse impacts of global climate change. The results are the first to document that an endangered coral species, which was once found widely throughout South Florida and the Caribbean, can buffer the effects of increased CO2 in the ocean by increasing feeding rates. “Our study shows a pathway to resilience previous unknown for this particular species, which was once a dominant species in South Florida,” said UM Rosenstiel School Ph.D. student Erica Towle, lead author of the study. “This has implications for how we care for and where we out-plant Staghorn corals back onto reefs to give them the best chance for resilience possible in the future.”

UM Press Release

PLOS ONE Article

YouTube Video
munoz-carpena-rafaelApril 30, 2015 - Dr. Rafael Muñoz-Carpena, Professor at IFAS Agricultural and Biological Engineering Department, has been elected Corresponding Member ("Académico") of the Royal Academy of Engineering of Spain.

The mission of the Royal Academy of Engineering of Spain is focused on the promotion of Spanish engineering in our society and on providing independent advice to public and private institutions on engineering-related matters. For this purpose it boasts 60 permanent members and 40 corresponding members from 14 countries who form a network of excellent engineering and architecture professionals. Another important objective of the Royal Academy of Engineering of Spain is to offer a forum that enables the exchange of knowledge, ideas and opinions between the engineering and corporate sectors. In short, the Academy perceives engineering as an essential ingredient of the progress and welfare of our society and, through its activities, pursues and promotes the integration of engineering in the culture of our country.

The Royal Academy of Engineering of Spain has its headquarters in the beautiful XVII century Palace of the Marquis of Villafranca, in the historical centre of Madrid, very near to the Royal Palace.

Professor Muñoz-Carpena will present his inaugural speech and receive the distinctive emblems of his new rank of "Académico" (Royal Academy medal and Member Diploma) at the ceremony in Madrid later this year.

Dr. Rafael Muñoz-Carpena has also been selected by the American Society for Agricultural and Biological Engineers (ASABE) to receive the 2015 Hancor Soil and Water Engineering Award for his exceptional accomplishments in hydrological and integrated environmental modeling and education of next generation of soil and water scientists and engineers. He has also been selected Fellow of ASABE this year.

Congratulations to Rafa on these great recognitions!
201504compact-mtgApril 30, 2015 - On April 17, 2015, FCI hosted the first joint working meeting with The Southeast Florida Regional Climate Change Compact (Compact) at the Center for Environmental Studies at Florida Atlantic University Davie Campus. Together the group identified collaborative opportunities to help Florida meet the challenges of global climate change. Members of the Compact Steering Committee from Broward, Miami-Dade, Monroe and Palm Beach Counties, as well as researchers from Florida Atlantic University, Florida International University, Florida State University, University of Miami and University of Florida presented. Representatives from Florida Institute for Health Innovation, the South Florida Water Management District, Southeast Climate Consortium and Nova Southeastern University attended. Highlights included an invitation to work together on the Broward-led Resilient Redesign II, a continuation of the effort started in 2014 selecting three pilot sites for climate change related redevelopment. Miami-Dade announced that FCI would be welcome to assist for their Indicators Working Group, particularly with health impacts.

In a dynamic networking exercise, Compact and university partners explored two questions central to the meeting: How can the FCI better work with the Compact? How can the Compact better work with the FCI? A detailed list of needs and action items resulted. For example, Compact partners expressed the need to develop climate change economic models, risk assessment information, and communication strategies.

While some opportunities lend themselves to participation from universities in southeast Florida, joint efforts are open to all FCI members. Since the formal inception of the FCI-Compact partnership in 2014, both partners have expressed the desire for an inclusive working relationship promoting the ideals of the agreement: (1) to seek better alignment between public sector information/management needs and ongoing university research, and (2) to improve coordination between the Compact and FCI universities in pursuing competitive funding opportunities. Achieving these goals will ensure that together both partners are well-positioned for competitive grant opportunities and are jointly advancing Florida’s environmental, social, and economic sustainability through applied research and planning collaborations. April’s workshop represented another step on that journey.

For more information on the FCI-Compact Partnership, please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..
201504permafrostApril 24, 2015 - Carbon, held in frozen permafrost soils for tens of thousands of years, is being released as Arctic regions of the Earth warm and is further fueling global climate change, according to a Florida State University researcher. Assistant Professor of Oceanography Robert Spencer writes in Geophysical Research Letters that single-cell organisms called microbes are rapidly devouring the ancient carbon being released from thawing permafrost soil and ultimately releasing it back into the atmosphere as carbon dioxide. Increased carbon dioxide levels, of course, cause the Earth to warm and accelerate thawing. "When you have a huge frozen store of carbon and it’s thawing, we have some big questions," said Dr. Spencer. "The primary question is when it thaws, what happens to it? Our research shows this ancient carbon is rapidly utilized by microbes and transferred to the atmosphere, leading to further warming in the region and therefore more thawing. So we get into a runaway effect."

FSU Press Release

Geographical Research Letters Article
obeyApril 24, 2015 - The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) selected Dr. Jayantha Obeysekera, Hydrologic & Environmental Systems Modeling, and Jose Sala, Emeritus Professor, Colorado State University, as recipients of the prestigious 2015 Norman Medal. They co-authored the paper, "Revisiting the Concepts of Return Period and Risk for Nonstationary Hydrologic Extreme Events."

The Norman Medal was instituted and endowed in 1874 by George H. Norman and is the highest honor granted by the ASCE for a technical paper that "makes a definitive contribution to engineering." In selecting this work, the committee commended it as, " the presentation of a convincing concept and needed statistical techniques that advance knowledge of nonstationarity in hydrologic observations due to anthropogenic causes and natural processes." The award will be presented during the ASCE annual convention in New York City on October 13.​

The paper was also published in the March 2014 issue of Journal of Hydrologic Engineering and selected as the year's "Best Paper" by the editors. This award will be presented at the World Environmental & Water Resources Congress in Texas in May.
201504freezeApril 9, 2015 - As worldwide temperatures rise and the earth sees extreme weather conditions in both summer and winter, a team of researchers with the University of Florida and Kansas State University have found that that there is potential for insects – and possibly other animals – to acclimate and rapidly evolve in the face of this current climate change.

“Organisms can deal with these stressful transitions from warm to cold by either acclimating – think about dogs putting on their winter coats – or by populations genetically evolving to deal with new stresses, a phenomenon known as rapid climate adaptation,” said Alison Gerken, a post-doctoral associate with UF’s Department of Molecular Genetics and Microbiology and the lead author of a new study, published this month in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

UF Press Release

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences Article
201504envmgmt-siApril 1, 2015 - This series of papers, which include several FCI co-authors, describes results of a workshop where a regional hydrologic model was used to simulate the hydrology expected in the Florida Everglades in 2060 with climate changes including increased temperature, evapotranspiration, and sea level, and either an increase or decrease in rainfall. Ecologists with expertise in various areas of the ecosystem evaluated the hydrologic outputs, drew conclusions about potential ecosystem responses, and identified research needs where projections of response had high uncertainty. Resource managers participated in the workshop, and they present lessons learned regarding how the new information might be used to guide Everglades restoration in the context of climate change.

Access Special Issue: http://link.springer.com/journal/267/55/4/page/1
201504um-coralApril 2, 2015 - While research shows that nearly all coral reef locations in the Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico will experience bleaching by mid-century, a new study showing in detail when and where bleaching will occur shows great variety in the timing and location of these harmful effects.

The new research published in Global Change Biology by NOAA scientists and colleagues provides the first fine-scale projections of coral bleaching, an important planning tool for managers.

“Our new local-scale projections will help resource managers better understand and plan for the effects of coral bleaching,” said lead author Ruben van Hooidonk, a coral and climate researcher with the Cooperative Institute for Marine and Atmospheric Studies at the University of Miami’s Rosenstiel School and NOAA’s Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory.

NOAA Press Release

Global Change Biology Article

Image credit: NOAA
201504mannMarch 30, 2015 - What is the "false pause" in climate change data recently under debate? Distinguished Professor of Meteorology from Penn State Michael Mann presented his research to a rapt audience at a Geosciences Colloquium co-hosted by Center for Environmental Studies at Florida Atlantic University on February 27, 2015. Dr. Mann explained that the pause in the climate’s rise in temperature recently does not indicate a slowing in climate heating. Rather Mann and his team discovered an internal variability component--internal and forced low-frequency surface temperature variability at global and regional scales--that affects the climate directly and, when used in the climate models, does produce the false pause cooling we are experiencing now. It also indicates that the increase in temperature will begin soon and will be drastically hotter and more rapid than previously thought.

Mann said recent climate cooling is not a slowdown of our climate warming rate. Instead the false pause is part of the internal variability of the climate neglected in past models. Neglecting internal variability has created a false sense of hope and failure to prevent harmful habits discouraging anthropogenic forcing. Typically used procedures for isolating natural internal oscillations like the Atlantic- and Pacific-based internal multidecadal variability (termed “AMO” and “PMO,” respectively) do fail when tested in a model-based framework where forced and internal variability are both known prior. The AMO signal is at the maximum shallow and the PMO is trending drastically downward.

The discovery, which led other researchers to similar conclusions, explained why the climate has been so cold this past winter compared to the last 5 years. It also explained how the natural, internal climate variability has a huge effect on predicting future climate and why the climate research community had not been in doubt of this component before. Many models incorporating the internal variability got the same results. Cooperation among the climate research community has led to great advances in a short time. Mann explained how the models run with thousands of parameters run by a single computer would have taken a year for produce result. Instead, a group of intelligent people collaborated for an important discovery.

The team reported their results in Science: http://www.sciencemag.org/content/347/6225/988.short