coralMarch 2, 2016 - Global climate change may actually be setting the stage for greater species diversity in the Pacific Northwest. And that could be both positive and negative, depending on the species.

As the climate changes, scientists have been closely monitoring what happens as more carbon dioxide enters our waterways. In recognition of that issue, Florida State University Assistant Professor of Biological Science Sophie McCoy delved into old experiments that explained species diversity and how different species were competitive with one another. Noticing physical changes in the algae’s skeletal structures, she wanted to see if ongoing ocean acidification — the increase in carbon dioxide in the water — affected species interaction. The answer was yes. “Ocean acidification is promoting competition and no one is dominating,” McCoy said. The research is published today in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B.

FSU Press Release

Proceedings of the Royal Society B Journal Article

201603ahead of the tideFebruary 29, 2016 - The FCI is proud to be a partner in a new 10-part video series highlighting the effects of sea level rise and climate change through the stories and voices of local Floridians. Each short video (5 to 7 minutes) showcases various aspects concerning sea level rise and includes interviews with scientists (including FCI affiliates), engineers, politicians, conservation directors, educators, authors, activists.
201602mosquitoFebruary 29, 2016 - An NSF-funded project on the effects of climate, land use, and socioeconomic conditions on vector-borne disease transmission, such as the Zika virus, was featured in an NSF press release recentlyStudying interacting factors allows researchers to understand the "risk landscape" for mosquito-transmitted diseases, according to Sadie Ryan, an ecologist and medical geographer at the University of Florida who is collaborating on the research. Taking a local approach then broadening it, the scientists believe, will allow them to find out when and where interventions -- such as in vector control, healthcare infrastructure, environmental modification, education, and climate change early warning systems -- may be most effective. 
201602 YTFebruary 29, 2016 - As a result of a Florida Sea Grant annual meeting in Gainesville, partners in science, policy, and municipalities work together to achieve policy success.

In 2011, the Florida legislature amended the Growth Management Act and authorized communities to adopt coastal flooding/sea level rise “adaptation action areas” through their comprehensive plans.  At the subsequent Sea Grant meeting, Whitney Gray proposed adapting this planning tool to a natural resources context.  A UF team working on policy options took Whitney’s “thinking outside the box” idea to the small Gulf Coast community of Yankeetown, which embraced it.  Yankeetown is somewhat unusual in that its municipal boundaries extend well into the Gulf of Mexico.  The tam of UF scientists and law professors assisted the Town with a grant proposal that had creating a Natural Resources Adaptation Action Area (NRAAA) as a goal, and the development of a community-adopted “science plan” and “business plan” as steps toward that goal.  The team then partnered with the Watershed Ecology Lab in the College of Engineering (Dr. David Kaplan) and Yankeetown received a planning grant from the Department of Economic Opportunity.  They completed the science and business plans, both of which focused on adaptation, and both of which were adopted by resolution.  The science plan included a community wide “bioblitz” to inventory the flora and fauna of the Town-owned Withlacoochee Gulf Preserve (ably assisted by Leroy Creswell).  The Business Plan was designed to promote the Town and Preserve as a destination for “science-based education” focused on estuarine adaptation to sea level rise.  They also drafted a model comprehensive plan amendment directed toward natural resources adaptation and worked with the Town attorney to tailor it to the Town’s circumstances as a “Natural Resources Adaptation Action Area.”  The Town is a “hometown democracy town” which means that all of its comp plan amendments must be placed on the ballot for a referendum, a procedural mechanism subsequently prohibited by the Florida legislature.  The Town voted on the comp plan amendment on February 23, 2016 and it passed overwhelmingly.  A copy of the comp plan amendment may be downloaded below, along with a poster which describes the project.  One reason for pursuing this planning tool comes from the opportunities it may provide to develop an Area-wide approach to restoration to promote adaptation, a concept UF leads are promoting at the upcoming 2016 National Conference on Ecosystem Restoration, and one which may make communities like Yankeetown that embrace this approach more attractive in terms of the funds coming to Florida through the BP spill settlement. 

Submitted by Thomas T. Ankersen, Professor, UF Levin College of Law

Image Credit: Ebyabe; Source:
201602slr matanzasFebruary 22, 2016 - The final project report for "Planning for Sea Level Rise in the Matanzas Basin: Opportunities for Adaptation" is now available online. The project was led by Dr. Kathryn Frank (UF) in collaboration with the Guana Tolomato Matanzas National Estuarine Research Reserve.

The project investigated the Matanzas area’s vulnerability to sea level rise and identified potential adaptation strategies. The project was holistic in its geographic scope, including the Matanzas estuary, watershed, and adjacent communities, and its goals of fostering regional sustainability and resilience. The project integrated analyses of the major trends of sea level rise and population growth, and their effects on conservation priorities and development patterns, using the best available data and scientifically defensible computer models. The project was collaboratively guided by a stakeholder-based steering committee and a series of public workshops oriented towards Matanzas area interest sectors, residents, and youth. And, the project suggested spatially explicit adaptation strategies having the greatest relevance in the context of current local plans and governance capacities. The strategies spanned and interrelated the spatial planning fields of land conservation, smart growth and low impact development, and coastal hazard mitigation. The project’s main findings relate to the importance of the Matanzas Basin, its vulnerabilities, potential adaptation strategies, and current governance adaptive capacity.
201602um-ocean-co2February 3, 2016 - A University of Miami (UM) Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science-led study shows that the North Atlantic absorbed 50 percent more human-made carbon dioxide over the last decade, compared to the previous decade. The findings show the impact that the burning of fossil fuels have had on the world's oceans in just 10 years. To determine the total uptake and storage of carbon dioxide in the North Atlantic over the last several decades, researchers analyzed data collected from the same locations, but 10 years apart, to identify changes caused by man-made CO2. The data were collected during two National Science Foundation-funded international ship-based studies, CLIVAR (Climate Variability CO2 Repeat Hydrography) and GO-SHIP (Global Ocean Ship-Based Hydrographic Investigations Program).

“This study shows the large impact all of us are having on the environment and that our use of fossil fuels isn’t only causing the climate to change, but also affects the oceans by decreasing the pH,” said Ryan Woosley, a researcher in the UM Rosenstiel School, Department of Ocean Sciences.
201601pastureJanuary 29, 2016 - Soils in grazing lands are influencing greenhouse gas concentrations via the release of carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide produced by microbes. A new study funded by USDA-AFRI will investigate how grazing land management and environmental factors (temperature and precipitation) affects the microbial community, and how microbial activity and greenhouse gas production are shaped by these factors. Field measurements and laboratory experiments will be tied to molecular analysis that assess microbial community structure (who is there?) and function (what are they doing?). The goal of the work is to have a modeling tool that can predict the release of carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide from soils under a climate that is expected to be warmer and experience more extreme dry/wet periods across the Southeastern US.

Project Title: “Climate Sensitivity Of Microbial Processes And Their Implication For Carbon Sequestration And Greenhouse Gas Fluxes In Subtropical Pastures” 

Award Total: $710,000

Team: Stefan Gerber (PI), Patrick Inglett (Co-PI), Kanika Inglett (Co-PI), and Maria Silveira (Co-PI) (all from Soil and Water Science Department, University of Florida); and Ryan Penton (Co-PI; Arizona State University).
201601monroeJanuary 27, 2016 - On January 26, 2016, Florida Sea Grant Coastal Planning Specialist Thomas Ruppert was part of a team that presented a workshop on climate change and sea level rise to the Monroe County Board of County Commissioners in the Florida Keys. The workshop was led by Rhonda Haag, Sustainability Manager of Monroe County, and Erin Deady, a consultant hired by Monroe County to help them plan climate change mitigation and sea level rise adaptation. The all-day workshop summarized two years of work by Ms. Deady and her team, which also included Dr. Jason Evans of Stetson University; Alicia Betancourt, UF IFAS Extension Agent; Chris Berg, The Nature Conservancy; and Thomas Ruppert, Florida Sea Grant. Mr. Ruppert presented on one of the key focus areas of the workshop: adapting to sea level rise and how Monroe County can work to balance the costs of maintaining roads being impacted by sea level rise and the rights of property owners to access their property via impacted roads. Mr. Ruppert explained to the Board of County Commissioners a model ordinance developed by Mr. Ruppert along with John Fergus of Satellite Beach and Stetson Law student/Florida Sea Grant legal intern Alex Stewart. Mr. Ruppert and Monroe County Attorney Bob Shillinger fielded numerous questions from the Commission about the model ordinance. Adoption of the model ordinance formed one of many recommendations received by the Board as part of the recommendations in a 5-year implementation plan presented by Ms. Deady.

For further information, contact Thomas Ruppert, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., or Erin Deady, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
201601greenlandJanuary 22, 2016 - Scientists from the University of South Florida, along with colleagues in Canada and the Netherlands, have determined that the influx of fresh water from the Greenland ice sheet is "freshening" the North Atlantic Ocean and could disrupt the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC), an important component of global ocean circulation that could have a global effect. Researchers say it could impact the future climate in places such as portions of Europe and North America.

Their study on the influence of freshwater influx on Labrador Sea convection and Atlantic circulation is published in a new issue of the journal Nature Communications.

"We derived a new estimate of recent freshwater flux from Greenland using updated GRACE satellite data," said USF professor Tim Dixon. "The data suggest that the influx of freshwater from Greenland is accelerating, and has changed the Labrador Sea in ways that could lead to a weakening of the AMOC."
201601famu climate actionJanuary 6, 2016 - Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University (FAMU) President Elmira Mangum, Ph.D., recently sent a letter to U.S. President Barack Obama pledging to solidify FAMU as a leading university in climate action. In her letter, Mangum applauded President Obama for the progress made to promote clean energy and climate action before the United Nations Climate Negotiations that took place in Paris in November. To ensure FAMU’s active participation in climate change discourse, FAMU Sustainability Institute (FAMU-SI) Faculty Director Odemari Mbuya travelled to Paris to attend the United Nations Framework Climate Change Convention Conference of the Parties 21st convening (COP21), where he gave a presentation.

As part of the Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) Climate Change Initiative, political science professor John Warford, Ph.D., accompanied FAMU environmental and political science students who traveled to Paris to participate in COP21. In addition to encouraging University participation in climate action on a global scale, Mangum is also dedicated to making all FAMU campuses more environmentally conscious. Her efforts include signing the American College and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment (ACUPCC) in January 2014; FAMU’s participation in the Better Buildings Challenge, committing to ensure all buildings on campus are 20 percent more energy efficient within 10 years; and the establishment of the FAMU Sustainability Institute (FAMU-SI), which is tasked with coordinating the implementation of broad social, environmental, and economic sustainability programs.

Mangum is among 600 college and university presidents and chancellors who have committed their institutions to take bold and catalytic climate actions. “Although we are optimistic that world leaders will reach an agreement to secure a transition to a low-carbon future, we recognize the urgent need to act now to avoid irreversible costs to our global community’s economic prosperity and public health,” Mangum said in the letter. As part of Mangum’s climate leadership commitment, she pledged that FAMU will develop a Climate Action Plan by May 2016, make carbon neutrality and climate resilience a part of the curriculum, expand research in climate science, and establish community partnerships to implement strategies for reducing carbon dependency on campus and in the surrounding community.

Source: FAMU News Release

Photo L-R: Odemari Mbuya, Ph.D. and Simone English, doctoral student
201601fiu courseJanuary 5, 2016 - No other place in the nation has higher risk to assets than Miami, Florida, and Florida Ranks very high among states that are least prepared for climate change impacts. The gravest climate change impact and threat to Miami is from sea level rise. Rising sea levels are creating challenges for both natural and human communities, and will impact the lowest elevation communities first. Understanding the causes, effects, and responses to sea level rise requires an interdisciplinary approach to short- and long-term strategies for mitigating the causes and effects of sea level rise. A holistic, system-oriented approach is posed that provides design and analysis toward decision-support for how we can adapt and even mitigate sea level rise now and into the future.

The Sea Level Solutions Center is convening its inaugural Interdisciplinary Studio. This studio will provide the basis for an interdisciplinary framework for developing and conducting design and analyses for the natural-built environment under future sea level rise. Faculty from Colleges of Architecture and the Arts, Engineering and Computer Sciences, Arts and Sciences, Law, and Stempel College of Public Health and Social Work are among instructors who will provide lectures, training and analytical tools. The studio is scheduled to include a scoping charrette that engages stakeholders from the outset to guide the vision of the studio products. The course will culminate in delivery of several products that enable decision-support for an “optimized solution”, with information, data and analyses for each solution. Graduate students from any discipline are invited to register. Contact Dr. Tiffany Troxler (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.) with any questions about the course.

201512fit coralDecember 22, 2015 - New research from Florida Institute of Technology scientists Chris Cacciapaglia and Rob van Woesik shows that corals may survive better in warm oceans where the water is clouded by floating particles. Coral reefs, the most diverse marine ecosystems on the planet, are under increasing stress and are dying in many parts of the world as the oceans continue to warm. When high levels of sunlight combine with unnaturally warm temperatures, the corals don’t have much of a chance. Cacciapaglia and van Woesik’s study, appearing in the December issue of Global Change Biology, shows that moderate levels of turbidity – cloudy water – could lower stress by shading the corals from extremely high light.

FIT Press Release

Global Change Biology Journal Article
201512uf lakesDecember 17, 2015 - Climate change is rapidly warming lakes around the world, threatening freshwater supplies and ecosystems, according to a new study spanning six continents. More than 60 scientists took part in the research, published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters and announced today at the fall meeting of the American Geophysical Union in San Francisco. The study authors include Karl Havens, director of the Florida Sea Grant program and a professor with the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences. The study showed that lakes are warming an average of 0.6 degrees Fahrenheit each decade. That’s greater than the warming rate of either the oceans or the atmosphere, and it could have profound effects, scientists say.

UF Press Release

Geophysical Research Letters Journal Article
201512paris agreementDecember 14, 2015 - More than 190 countries came together to #ActOnClimate by adopting the most ambitious climate change agreement in history! The Paris Agreement establishes a long term, durable global framework to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions.  For the first time, all countries commit to putting forward successive and ambitious, nationally determined climate targets and reporting on their progress towards them using a rigorous, standardized process of review.

Fact Sheet:  U.S. Leadership and the Historic Paris Agreement to Combat Climate Change

Shareable GIF:

Video of the President’s Remarks:

Blog Posts from FIU:
201512fiu artistDecember 10, 2015 - With climate change conversations under way at the COP21 Paris Talks, the discussion on global climate change may seem distant to many communities – but not Hialeah. There, in the Milander Center for Arts and Entertainment, Xavier Cortada has brought the conversation home to South Florida with CLIMA, his solo art exhibit on climate change and sea-level rise. Cortada currently serves as artist-in-residence for FIU’s College of Arts & Sciences (CAS), School of Environment, Arts and Society (SEAS), and College of Architecture + The Arts (CARTA). Each day of the CLIMA exhibit included a special climate-inspired performance, display, or video by Cortada, as well as a panel discussion to cover topics related to the causes and/or effects of climate change and sea level rise. The panels were well-represented by FIU faculty, including Tiffany Troxler, Director of the FIU Sea Level Solutions Center (SLSC). The exhibit will continue to display a wide range of environmental art pieces until January 29, 2016. 

FIU Alumni Association Article

Source: FIU News Release
201512fiu focus sflDecember 7, 2015 - CBS Miami’s Focus on South Florida segment recently featured FIU’s Tiffany Troxler, Director of the FIU Sea Level Solutions Center, and Henry Briceño, Associate Researcher at FIU’s Southeastern Environmental Research. The discussion occurred during the middle of the COP21 climate change talks in Paris, after President Obama recently cited Miami Beach as a specific example of why the US should commit to reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Drs. Troxler and Briceño each described what is currently being done to address the issues related to sea level rise in South Florida, and expressed their optimism going forward after the start of COP21. Watch the full video here >>
201511ancientfl slNovember 28, 2015 - A Tampa Bay Times article by Craig Pittman highlights research conducted by University of Florida archaeologist Ken Sassaman on how Florida's early inhabitants adapted to sea level changes:

"The 2012 emergency call sent archaeologists scrambling. Rising seas were washing away an ancient Indian burial ground near Cedar Key. They had to dig up the remaining graves and collect the bones before the whole thing disappeared into the Gulf of Mexico. But while digging, University of Florida archaeologist Ken Sassaman discovered something that surprised him. The burial ground of some 1,300 graves was actually a re-burial ground. The skeletons had been buried somewhere else, then moved to this spot. Florida's early inhabitants had done that, Sassaman said, because they were dealing with the same problem that's facing the low-lying Sunshine State now: waves that creep higher and higher, crumbling the coastline and forcing the inhabitants to make tough choices about the future. Their solution was to move everything important to them, including their ancestors, he explained."

Continue Reading Tampa Bay Times Article

Photo credit: Ken Sassaman
December 4, 2015 - On November 23, Florida state climatologist David Zierden was one of four scientists invited to a congressional briefing in Washington, DC where he provided background and explained the implications of the 2015-16 El Niño event. The four panelists discussed how El Niño forms, what impacts can be anticipated from the current event, as well as the opportunities and challenges in understanding, monitoring, and predicting the El Niño. Zierden stressed the importance of increasing the prediction accuracy for El Niño to better plan global and regional responses. In Florida, where the 1997-98 El Niño had severe impacts, water planners and farmers are preparing responses to expected impacts of this year's El Niño. The briefing highlighted the importance of continued investment in data assimilation, model improvement, and communication to stakeholders and decision makers to better predict and prepare for future El Niño events.

Consortium for Ocean Leadership News Release
201511fiu king tideNovember 25, 2015 - On Tuesday, November 24, Tiffany Troxler, Director of FIU's Sea Level Solutions Center, gathered faculty and students at Little River Pocket Park in Miami, for a hands-on event during King Tide flooding. The event focused on a low-lying community where significant tidal flooding has been observed, but received little attention, in order to conduct a citizen science activity and emphasize that sea level rise is not just a Miami Beach issue. Faculty and students organized to take video and help attendees with data collection. Attendees also had the opportunity to view storm water pump activity and conduct water quality sampling.

The event comes less than a week before world leaders will convene in Paris for the 21st Conference of the Parties (COP21), to address climate change issues and formalize agreements to lower carbon emissions. Dr. Juliet Pinto, of FIU’s School of Journalism and Mass Communication, will attend the conference in Paris and stream daily updates.