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  • Fulbright visiting scientist to study climate change at SCCWRP

    October 24, 2014:

    Australian environmental scientist Dr. Neil Saintilan, who heads the water and wetlands team for the New South Wales government’s environmental agency, will join SCCWRP in mid November as a Fulbright Scholar in Climate Change and Clean Energy.

    During his three-month tenure as a visiting professional scholar at SCCWRP, Saintilan will study the capacity of tidal wetlands to capture atmospheric carbon and store it for long periods in wetland soils. 

    Saintilan’s project is part of the International Blue Carbon Initiative, which focuses on mitigating climate change by conserving and restoring coastal and marine ecosystems that have the ability to store “blue” carbon. Quantifying the benefit of “blue” carbon storage could pave the way for market-based incentives for wetland restoration and conservation, via carbon pollution offsets.

    Saintilan said he was interested in working in Southern California because of the similarities between the coastlines of his native southeastern Australia and of Southern California, including climate, geography and population dynamics. 

    “Management responses have evolved separately on the two sides of the Pacific, and the Fulbright fellowship provides an opportunity for a sharing of perspectives and approaches to these common challenges,” Saintilan said.

    Saintilan’s Fulbright Scholarship is sponsored by the Australian and U.S. governments and co-hosted by the Imperial Beach, Calif.-based Tijuana River National Estuarine Research Reserve. Saintilan will work under SCCWRP’s Dr. Eric Stein, head of the Biology Department.

    Based in Sydney, Saintilan is a senior principal research scientist in the Office of Environment and Heritage, which is the environmental agency for the Australian state of New South Wales. He leads a group of about 20 scientists who conduct research in support of improved management of aquatic ecosystems.

    Saintilan holds a bachelor’s in biology and geography and a Ph.D. in biogeography, both from the University of Sydney.

    Dr. Neil Saintilan is an Australian 
    environmental scientist who works 
    for the state environmental agency 
    in New South Wales. 

  • Standards, methods for probability mapping of California’s aquatic resources released

    October 21, 2014:

    A new report has been released that outlines how to use standardized probability-mapping protocols to track wetlands and other aquatic resources in California, paving the way for scientists to build a cost-effective, California-specific program to assess changes in condition over time.
    Co-authored by SCCWRP on behalf of the California Wetland Monitoring Workgroup, the “California Aquatic Resources Status and Trends Program: Mapping Methodology” report establishes mapping standards and methods that are to be used when monitoring wetlands and other aquatic resources using California’s existing framework. This framework, known as the California Status and Trends program, is adapted from a federal probability-mapping program developed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Details of the program design are provided in SCCWRP Technical Report No. 706
    The California Status and Trends program includes about 2,000 randomly selected plots across the state that allow scientists to generate comprehensive, probability-based maps of all aquatic resources, from lakes to streams to wetlands.
    The methodology report ensures that the standards and methods used to generate the maps will be consistent and yield comparable results across the state.
    The methodology report, which was released this month, was produced by scientists at SCCWRP, the San Francisco Estuary Institute, California State University, Northridge and Moss Landing Marine Laboratories. It is available online as SCCWRP Technical Report No. 833.
    For more information, contact Dr. Eric Stein.

  • 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.