Each year, Earth & Environment Professor Duncan Fitzgerald and his ES 142 Beaches and Shoreline students take an annual trip to Cape Cod.
This year’s trip took place this past Saturday where students boarded buses at BU at 8:00 am and made the hour-long journey to the Cape. After arriving, students were provided with guidebooks and headed for Humarock Beach in Marshfield where they viewed an eroding drumlin cliff, a boulder retreat platform, and various types of protective engineering structures. This particularly spit system is sediment-starved and severely impacted during winter storms.
The trip included six stops covering dunes, marshes, tidal inlets, beach processes, and glacial landforms. Students learned about the 15 ka evolution of Cape Cod and examined the present-day effects of sea-level rise. The trip ended after climbing the 30-m high parabolic dunes in the Province Lands of the outer Cape (see below).
Earth & Environment Professor Duncan FitzGerald recently traveled to Brazil to study former shoreline processes. The coast of Brazil is an ideal area to study former shoreline processes because sea level has dropped 2.5 to 4 m during the past 6,000 years (far-field effects). FitzGerald and Chris Hein (former BU-PhD, Assistant Professor at Virginia Institute of Marine Science) and colleagues Dr. Ioannis Georgiou (University of New Orleans) and Dr. Antonio Klein (Universidade Federal de Santa Catarina, Brazil) are studying Chenier (sand ridges within mud coast) development using instrument deployments at mouth of the Tijucas River and by dating and determining the stratigraphy of the ancient onshore chenier plain through coring, ground-penetrating radar, RTK, and LiDAR surveys. This group is also studying the double Holocene (5.8 ka) and Pleistocene (~ 120 ka) high stand shorelines in the landward section of the Tijucas strandplain. These two sea-level highstands are somewhat unique as they are separated by only 0.4 km but a hundred thousand years.
Earth & Environment PhD candidate Sarah Farron is in Portland, Oregon this week to present a paper at the Coastal & Estuarine Research Federations (CERF) 23rd Biennial Conference.
Farron’s presentation will be on “Quantifying the effects of crab bioturbation on salt marsh sediment erodibility.”
Farron is a PhD candidate in Earth Science working with Professor Duncan FitzGerald.
Earth & Environment Associate Professor R. Wally Fuweiler and many of the students that comprise the Fulweiler Lab are in Portland, OR this week to take part in the Coastal & Estuarine Research Federations 23rd Biennial Conference.
As part of the conference, Fulweiler and her team are participating in the conference in a number of ways:
Fulweiler will be giving an invited plenary talk on “Triaging the Coastal Ocean” as well as chairing a session on the same subject.
Currently Ph.D. Sarabeth Buckley will be giving a presentation on “The Race Between Salt Marshes and Sea Level Rise: Northeastern US and Bay of Fundy.”
Current PhD Hollie Emery will be giving a presentation on “Salt marshes in a changing climate: greenhouse gas emissions, carbon cycling, and precipitation change.”
Undergraduate member of the Fulweiler Lab Rob Lauto will be giving a presentation on “The impact of harmful algal bloom organic matter on sediment denitrification.”
Current Ph.D. Sarah Foster will be presenting a poster on “Evidence of phosphorus limitation on sediment nitrous oxide uptake in a shallow, temperate estuary”
Current Ph.D. Tim Maguire will be giving a presentation on “Waste water and urban runoff – significant anthropogenic sources of silica to coastal systems.”
Former PhD student and now postdoctoral associate at the Marine Biological Laboratory at Woods Hole Jo Carey is cockering a session titled Responses of Salt Marshes to Sea Level Rise and giving a talk titled “Salt marsh greenhouse gas emissions in a warmer world.”
Former Fulweiler lab student and current UCONN Ph.D. student Amanda Vieillard is giving a presentation on “How the eastern oyster influences coastal nutrient cycling: stable isotopes in a mesocosm study.”
Former Ph.D. co-advised by Fulweiler at the University of Rhode Island and now postdoctoral associate at the University of Georgia Lindsey Fields will be giving a talk on “Resuspension of sedimented oil from the Deepwater Horizon: Impact on biogeochemistry at the sediment-water interface.”
Earth & Environment PhD student Chris Holden is serving today on the LCMAP (Land Change Monitoring, Assessment and Projection) System Concept and Review at EROS Data Center in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. Other members of the review panel are senior leaders from the USGS, NASA, and the Landsat Program and international experts.
Holden is working toward his PhD in Geography under the guidance of Professor Curtis Woodcock. Professor Woodcock writes of Holden’s participation in LCMAP: “The decision to invite him to participate speaks volumes about the respect for his capabilities within the USGS at EROS Data Center.”
To learn more about the work done by Holden and Woodcock, check out Professor Woodcock’s profile page.
For the past 3 years, Earth & Environment’s James Baldwin has been accompanying his GE150 students to the Boston Museum of Science (MOS). GE150, Sustainable Energy- Technology, Resources, Society and Environment is a course that examines the social, economic and environmental implications of energy technologies with a goal of considering how society can produce and use energy sustainably. The course is highly interdisciplinary making use of knowledge from both the physical and social sciences to analyze existing energy technologies and resources as well as options for the future.
Each Fall, Baldwin’s GE150 students take advantage of the annual admission-free MOS college night to take part in a class scavenger hunt for extra credit. The students are given a set of five clues that lead them to exhibits that related to material that has been, or will be, covered in lectures. To get credit, students take pictures of themselves with the exhibit related to a specific clue.
While his students explored the museum, Baldwin walked around with groups of 3-6 students to discuss some of the exhibits and how they related to the challenges society faces with respect to energy.
Earth & Environment Research Assistant Professor Alyssa Novak and Professor Duncan FitzGerald have been involved in a long-term study of how marshes are responding to climate change and their future sustainability as sediment supplies diminish and the rate of sea-level rise accelerates. One aspect of this research is determining how the rate of marsh edge retreat relates to various parameters including the type of vegetation. This work, which is being funded by Hurricane Sandy Resiliency Fund through the Department of Interior and other stakeholder agencies, including the National Fish and Wildlife Federation and Massachusetts Coastal Zone Management, is depicted in the accompanying photographs taken earlier this week in Great Marsh of Northern New England. New creek edge monitoring sites are being established in Phragmite stands to investigate how an invasive species of grass, although severely limiting diversity and impacting marsh natural marsh habitats, may be beneficially retarding marsh edge erosion. This research will continue for the next several years.
Earth & Environment Research Associate Professor Rachel Abercrombie was in California this week to participate in the 2015 Southern California Earthquake Center Annual Meeting.
At the meeting Abercrombie presented a poster on the topic of “Earthquake stress drop measurements – variability and resolution.” The abstract for her poster can be found here.
Assistant Professor Rachael Garrett recently attended a workshop at the National Socio-Environmental Synthesis Center on Teaching Socio-Enivornmental Syntheses with Case Studies.
The workshop focused on the use of socio-environmental (S-E) synthesis in the classroom. The workshop’s website describes Socio-environmetal synthesis as a “problem-solving approach that considers the integrated nature of the environment and human society and combines insights, methods, and data from the natural and social sciences to produce knowledge and inform solutions.”
To learn more about the workshop and its goals, check out the workshop’s website.
To learn more Assistant Professor Garrett, check out her profile page.
Earth & Environment Professor Duncan FitzGerald and a team of researchers recently undertook a week-long field campaign 40 miles off the coast of Louisiana to the Chandeluer Islands to study the barrier island chain’s response to sea-level rise and hurricane impacts.
Since 2004, numerous Category 3 and higher magnitude hurricanes have severely eroded the islands, segmenting them, and transforming them into a landward migrating barrier arc. Because of this transformation, these islands provide scientists like FitzGerald a natural laboratory to study a possible future scenario of how other barrier coasts of the world, like the East Coast of the United States, might react as they succumb to accelerating sea-level rise.
FitzGerald, who co-led the expedition, and the team gathered sedimentologic and hydrodynamic data to study how the island chain has responded to sea-level rise and to the multiple hurricane impacts. Several more trips are planned to the Chandeleur Islands this year.
This and future expeditions to the Islands are supported by the State of Louisiana and the US Geological Survey. To learn more about FitzGerarld’s work, check out his profile page, or see his recent news and publications.