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  • Changes, losses to northern San Diego County estuaries documented in new historical ecology study

    October 20, 2014:

    A new historical ecology study of northern San Diego County estuaries co-authored by SCCWRP has found that the region’s coastal lagoons have shrunk by only about 15% over the past century, bucking a trend of significant estuarine losses across Southern California.
     
    The study, “Northern San Diego County Lagoons: Historical Ecology Investigation,” examined six major estuaries spanning an 18-mile swath of northern San Diego County’s coastline. 

    The estuaries have experienced significant changes in habitat types as a result of urbanization, according to the study. Seasonally flooded salt flats cover 90% less area than they once did, replaced by other habitat types like perennial open water, which has expanded its footprint by more than 600%, the study found.
     
    But the estuaries are relatively intact compared to the nearly half of Southern California estuarine areas that have disappeared since the 19th century.
     
    The report, published by the San Francisco Estuary Institute for the California State Coastal Conservancy, was co-authored by scientists from SFEI, the University of Southern California, California State University, Northridge and SCCWRP. 
     
    Hard copies are available for sale for $45 on Amazon; the report also is available online as SCCWRP Technical Report No. 831.
     
    For more information, contact Dr. Eric Stein.



    Early landscape photos such as this one of San Diego County's Buena Vista Lagoon from the early 20th century provide important clues about the historical conditions of the region's coastal estuaries. Buena Vista Lagoon was one of six major estuaries studied in northern San Diego County to understand how the region's wetland areas have changed over the past century.

  • NOAA oceanographer to discuss integrated approach to studying ocean ecosystems

    October 01, 2014:

    Dr. Toby Garfield, a NOAA physical oceanographer who specializes in tracking ocean current systems using multiple observational tools, will discuss his integrated approach to ecosystem assessment during a one-hour morning seminar on Friday, October 3, 2014, hosted by SCCWRP.

    Garfield’s presentation, titled “Integrated Ecosystem Assessment,” will explain how NOAA’s groundbreaking Integrated Ecosystem Assessment program has changed the way that ocean researchers assess regional ocean impacts from fisheries, aquaculture, shipping, tourism and recreation.  Rather than assessing each ocean-use sector in isolation and perhaps failing to consider cumulative impacts, the integrated approach allows NOAA researchers to think about the sectors as a web of interactions and to forecast how changing environmental conditions and management actions will affect the sectors.

    Garfield, who serves as director of the Environmental Research Division of the NOAA Southwest Fisheries Science Center in La Jolla, primarily studies West Coast ocean current systems using a combination of traditional observational data and satellite- and shore-based remotely sensed data.

    Garfield’s talk is part of SCCWRP’s Fall 2014 Seminar Series. The six-part series runs from August to December.

    Garfields’s one-hour seminar is scheduled for October 3 at 11 a.m. at SCCWRP’s headquarters, 3535 Harbor Blvd., Suite 110, Costa Mesa, CA 92626. As with all SCCWRP seminars, the talk is free and open to the public; no RSVPs are necessary. For more information, contact Dr. Steve Weisberg.


  • Scripps oceanography researcher to discuss role of naturally synthesized, toxic polybrominated compounds in environmental contamination

    September 11, 2014:

    Dr. Bradley Moore, a researcher for the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in La Jolla, will discuss the environmental quandary created by marine microorganisms that naturally produce toxic polybrominated compounds during a one-hour morning seminar on Friday, September 12, 2014, hosted by SCCWRP.
     
    Moore’s presentation, titled “Marine bacterial synthesis of polybrominated organic compounds relevant to environmental toxicology,” will explain how bacteria in the ocean can naturally synthesize the same toxic polybrominated compounds that water-quality managers have been working to eliminate from human sources. 
     
    Although naturally synthesized polybrominated compounds have been identified in marine mammals such as seals and dolphins and in seafood consumed by humans, relatively little is known about how these chemicals contribute to environmental contamination. By contrast, their manufactured counterparts, such as the now-banned flame retardant PBDE, or polybrominated diphenyl ether, have been linked to a variety of human diseases, including cancer and thyroid ailments.
     
    Moore, who serves as director of the Scripps Institution’s Center for Oceans and Human Health, is focusing his polybrominated compound research on the Southern California Bight, the coastal waters that stretch from Point Conception in Santa Barbara County to Ensenada in Mexico. 
     
    Moore’s talk is part of SCCWRP’s Fall 2014 Seminar Series, a six-part series that runs from August to December.
     
    Moore’s seminar is scheduled for September 12 at 11 a.m. at SCCWRP’s headquarters, 3535 Harbor Blvd., Suite 110, Costa Mesa, CA 92626. As with all SCCWRP seminars, the talk is free and open to the public; no RSVPs are necessary. For more information, contact Dr. Steve Weisberg.



  • University of Chicago paleobiologist to discuss how urbanization, conservation efforts have affected bottom-dwelling marine communities

    September 07, 2014:

    Dr. Susan Kidwell, a University of Chicago conservation paleobiologist who specializes in tracking the composition of seabed floors over time to understand how urbanization and conservation efforts have affected coastal ecosystems, will discuss her research during a one-hour afternoon seminar on Tuesday, September 9, 2014, hosted by SCCWRP.
     
    Kidwell’s presentation, titled “Using benthic grunge to evaluate biotic change in marine systems: Dead shells do tell tales,” will explain how the shelly remains of mollusks sieved from seafloor sediment can be used to build a historical snapshot of the health of coastal waters – and how it can inform present-day management and conservation efforts.
     
    One of Kidwell’s signature research projects is documenting the health of the Southern California Bight ecosystem, using sediment samples collected by a number of sources, including the ongoing Southern California Bight Regional Monitoring Program facilitated by SCCWRP. The analysis includes using radiocarbon-calibrated amino-acid racemization dating to provide age-related data about the health of bottom-dwelling, or benthic, communities. The goal is to construct a picture of what the Southern California Bight’s pre-urban benthic ecosystem looked like, how severely it was impacted as pollution levels peaked in the 1970s and how subsequent clean-up efforts have improved its condition.
     
    Kidwell’s talk is a late addition to SCCWRP’s previously announced Fall 2014 Seminar Series. The series runs from August to December.
     
    Kidwell’s one-hour seminar is scheduled for September 9 at 2 p.m. at SCCWRP’s headquarters, 3535 Harbor Blvd., Suite 110, Costa Mesa, CA 92626. As with all SCCWRP seminars, the talk is free and open to the public; no RSVPs are necessary. For more information, contact Dr. David Gillett.



  • Changes, losses to Southern California’s coastal wetlands documented in comprehensive new historical analysis

    August 27, 2014: SCCWRP and its collaborators have completed a multi-year effort to comprehensively document the extent of Southern California’s coastal wetland areas prior to urbanization in the mid-1800s and compare it to present-day conditions.

    The initiative, known as the Southern California T-sheets project, required overlaying 40 high-resolution historical maps of Southern California’s shoreline produced by federal officials with present-day maps to show how wetland areas have changed over time. The project was completed this month.

    The 40 topographical sheets, or T-sheets, span the 400-mile-long coastline of the Southern California Bight and were produced between 1851 and 1889 by the U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey. Researchers digitized and georectified the T-sheets, then uploaded them to the project’s publicly accessible website, www.caltsheets.org.

    The study found that Southern California once had more than 330 individual coastal systems that provided over 25,000 hectares of estuarine habitat. But since the mid-19th century, 48% of Southern California’s coastal estuarine habitats have been lost, according to the study. Hardest hit was Santa Barbara County, where 62% of total estuarine habitats have disappeared. The study also found that vegetated marsh and salt and mud flats were disproportionately affected, experiencing higher losses of 75% to 78%.

    The study’s authors noted that the estimates were significantly different than previous estimates indicating that more than 90% of California’s wetlands have been lost. Researchers say this difference could be explained by the precision of the latest analysis, differences in the types and locations of wetlands included in the study area, and disproportionate impacts to certain types of wetland areas.

    Phase 1 of the T-sheets project, which was completed in early 2011, mapped 26 of the 40 T-sheets spanning the Southern California Bight. When funding for Phase 2 became available last year, the remaining 14 T-sheets were digitized, georectified and edge-matched. Additionally, researchers went back to the 26 original T-sheets and updated them for consistency, as well as mapped smaller drainage and channel systems. Phase 2 was completed this month; the key findings were summarized in SCCWRP Technical Report 826: “Wetlands of the Southern California Coast: Historical Extent and Change Over Time.”

    SCCWRP completed this project in collaboration with the San Francisco Estuary Institute and the Center for Geographical Studies at California State University, Northridge. The project’s funding came from the California State Coastal Conservancy, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and California State Wildlife Conservation Board.

    For more information about the Southern California T-sheets project, contact Dr. Eric Stein.


    MAPPING: A total of 40 overlapping historical maps known as topographical sheets, or T-sheets, that span the 400-mile-long coastline of the Southern California Bight were digitized and georectified for the Southern California T-sheet project. The study provided a comprehensive snapshot of the extent of Southern California’s coastal wetland areas prior to urbanization in the mid-1800s.

  • SCCWRP scientist receives grant to present bilateral U.S.-India stormwater workshop

    August 11, 2014:

    SCCWRP hydrogeologist Dr. Ashmita Sengupta has won a competitive grant from the nonprofit Indo-US Science and Technology Forum to host a two-day workshop in India in January 2015 focusing on stormwater research.

    Titled “Transforming Stormwater into a Resource: Design, Risks and Benefits,” the workshop is one of seven proposals selected by IUSSTF to be funded for 2014-15. The grant winners were announced July 31.

    The annual IUSSTF workshops take place in either India or the United States, and span a wide variety of science and technology disciplines. IUSSTF’s goal is to promote interaction and collaboration between U.S. and Indian researchers in academia, R&D laboratories, industry and government.

    The workshop will explore large-scale best management practices for stormwater management, with a focus on new assessment tools, an integrated assessment framework and direct partnerships with implementing agencies.

    Collaborators from major U.S. and Indian universities, including the University of California, Irvine, and the Indian Institute of Technology, will be part of the workshop. 

    IUSSTF was established in 2000 via an agreement between the governments of India and the United States. The nonprofit society’s mission is to provide opportunities for exchanging ideas, information, skills and technologies and to facilitate collaborations on scientific and technological endeavors of mutual interest.

    Dr. Sengupta’s research at SCCWRP focuses on applying modeling techniques to evaluate and improve the efficacy and impact of Integrated Water Resource Management (IWRM) strategies, and to evaluate tradeoffs. She also models stress responses in receiving waterbodies due to watershed activities. For more information, contact Dr. Sengupta.