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Media Tip Sheet

The following reports will be presented by Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution scientists at the Fall 2013 Meeting of the American Geophysical Union in San Francisco.
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Long-term barrier evolution in a rising-sea-level world

Barrier coasts, both developed and undeveloped, face historically unprecedented rates of sea-level rise over the coming century. These sustained rates have not been seen since the last deglaciation. Understanding the future trajectory of barriers requires an integrated accounting of three key sediment transport pathways: alongshore transport gradients, on-offshore sediment transport across the wave-affected shoreface, and onshore sediment transport, generally by storm overwash.

To incorporate the role of storms on coastal evolution with results from recent models, WHOI Geologist Andrew Ashton and colleagues analyzed 20-year hindcast wave data along the U.S. Gulf Coast and Atlantic Coast. Ensemble model results can then be used to understand a potential range of future barrier evolution for different sea-level rise scenarios.

Speaker: Andrew Ashton

Time: Tuesday, Dec. 10,8:15 a.m.

Location: 2003 Moscone West

Related talk:

Left Behind: Effects of marine reworking and sea-level rise on deltas of the 21st century

The 21st century will represent a time of punctuated change for the morphology of the world’s deltas as they face the doubled-edged impacts of sediment reduction during reservoir infilling and submergence by rising sea levels. This research focuses on the controls on the evolution of deltas strongly affected by marine processes, namely wind waves, with a particular emphasis on reworking.

Time: Wednesday, Dec. 11, 2:55 p.m.

Location: 2005 Moscone West

Related Link: : Coastal Systems Group

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Early Anthropogenic Transformation of the Danube-Black Sea System: From Records to Causes

When did humans change their terrestrial habitats in such a degree to affect the ocean? We present sedimentary, paleoenvironmental, and paleogenetic evidence to show that the Black Sea was affected by land use long before the Industrial Era.

We discuss potential avenues for fingerprinting historical land use type and intensity based on sedimentary proxies as well as novel strategies to disentangle climate from anthropogenic variables with potential application to other systems outside the Danube and Black Sea.

Speaker: Liviu Giosan

Time: Tuesday, Dec. 10, 11:50 a.m.

Location: 3003 Moscone West

Related Links:
Human Impact Felt on Black Sea Long Before Industrial Era
WHOI Press Release

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Abrupt shifts in Horn of Africa hydroclimate and the influence of the Indian Ocean

The timing and abruptness with which Northeast Africa transitioned into and out of the Early Holocene African Humid Period is a subject of ongoing debate with direct consequences for our understanding of climate stability and paleoenvironments. Geologist Jessica Tierney presents a new proxy record of regional hydroclimate, based on the hydrogen isotopic composition of leaf waxes from a marine core in the Gulf of Aden that documents rapid, century-scale transitions into and out of the African Humid Period across the Horn of Africa.

Speaker: Jessica Tierney

Time: Wednesday, Dec. 10,8:15 a.m.

Location: 2005 Moscone West

Related Link:
Study Provides New Insights on Drought Predictions in East Africa
WHOI Press Release

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Putting Hurricane Sandy in Historical and Geological Context

Hurricane Sandy caused $71 billion in property damage and 285 lives were lost. But the category 1 storm was small in relation to hurricanes that have hit the East Coast since the 18th century, according to Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution Geologist Jeff Donnelly. He found that the coastline by New York City and New Jersey was struck by category 3 hurricanes in 1788 and 1821. Given the population increase and development on the coast over the past two centuries, if storms like these were to occur today, they would likely result in significantly more damage and loss of life than Hurricane Sandy.

Donnelly tracks hurricane landfalls through overwash deposits and hydrodynamic modeling. He has gathered information on hurricanes that impacted the Northeast in 1788, 1821, 1893, 1938, 1944, 1954, 1960, 1976, 1985, and 1991. He will present these findings for the first time.

Speaker: Jeffrey Donnelly

Time: Wednesday, Dec. 11,1:40 p.m.

Location: 3009 Moscone West

Related Link: Coastal Systems Group

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Distributions and Controls of Carbonate Chemistry on the Northeastern U.S. Shelf

Carbon emissions released into the atmosphere are changing the chemistry of the ocean worldwide. Different bodies of water, however, respond differently. A current study led by Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution chemical oceanographer Zhaohui Aleck Wang reveals that the coastal waters in the northeastern U.S. may be more sensitive to ocean acidification than southern U.S. waters. For example, the northeastern shelf, including the Gulf of Maine and the Mid-Atlantic Bight, exhibit lower pH, aragonite saturation states (ΩA), and less buffer capacity than the southern U.S. shelves. Through legacy and newly-collected data, Zhang examines seasonal and spatial variability among carbon parameters such as dissolved inorganic carbon (DIC), total alkalinity (TA), pH, and aragonite saturation states (ΩA), in the region.

  Thus far, he has found that the deep bottom water in the Gulf of Maine’s Wilkinson Basin has the lowest pH, aragonite saturation state, and buffer capacity in the region. The conditions are nearly corrosive. And the basin is semi-enclosed, which allows carbon dioxide to accumulate through respiration and the decomposition of organic matter. He continues to investigate the long-term changes in the region’s carbonate chemistry.

Speaker: Zhaohui Aleck Wang

Time: Friday, Dec. 13, 2:55 p.m.

Location: 3009 (Moscone West)

Related Links:
New Study Reveals How Sensitive U.S. East Coast Regions May Be to Ocean Acidification
WHOI Press Release

Media Contacts

In San Francisco

Erin Koenig, ekoenig@whoi.edu  or  508-566-0989 
Stephanie Murphy, samurphy@whoi.edu  or 508-289-2271

At WHOI

WHOI Media Relations Office, media@whoi.edu or 508-289-3340

The Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution is a private, non-profit organization on Cape Cod, Mass., dedicated to marine research, engineering, and higher education. Established in 1930 on a recommendation from the National Academy of Sciences, its primary mission is to understand the ocean and its interaction with the Earth as a whole, and to communicate a basic understanding of the ocean's role in the changing global environment.

Last updated: December 6, 2013