Around the world, the occasional phenomenon known as sneaker waves poses a threat to beachgoers. Unusually large sneaker waves in 2016 and 2018 prompted Oregon State University (OSU) researchers to investigate these mysterious events. The research revealed the presence of runup signals that can provide earlier warnings to officials, reducing risk from these dangerous events.
“Sneaker waves occur in the Pacific Northwest, but they’re also a worldwide phenomenon,” explains Dr. Ozkan-Haller...
Recent research from a University of Guelph (U of G) team reveals that warmer temperatures caused by climate change are forcing species to alter their behavior, causing food webs in Ontario lakes to transform. As temperatures warm, larger species hunt new prey in deeper waters, changing the ways nutrients and energy flow in lakes and triggering a “rewiring” of food webs.
Some of the most interesting data in the world of river and stream monitoring come at times when it’s practically impossible to capture—during extreme weather events, for example. Timing alone makes capturing unusual events a challenge, and these kinds of issues have prompted researchers to use classic monitoring data along with new technologies to develop and improve hydraulic modeling for estimating river flows.
Adrift on the open ocean, even aquatic species can feel stranded, without their usual habitats and food sources. This has been the situation for various species post-2011 Japanese tsunami for years now. Researchers are digging into the lasting effects this displacement could have on them—and on the places they end up. Dr. Linsey Haram, a postdoctoral fellow at the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center (SERC), spoke to EM about her research following the winding path of some of these species.
This past winter, physical oceanographer Jenny Brown and her team at the National Oceanography Centre (NOC), United Kingdom, were trialing a new concept: “WireWall” with colleagues at HR Wallingford. This new system for measuring wave hazard at sea walls allows managers to understand flood risk for existing coastal structures better, and Dr. Brown spoke to EM about the system and what inspired it.
So much of what many field scientists and engineers do hinges upon their ability to communicate the value of their work. Communicating the value of science, generally, is part of that process—one that Mika McKinnon has down cold. We spoke with geophysicist Mika McKinnon about her work as a freelance scientist, and what it’s like to do work that touches on science communication in so many areas.
Most of the time when we think of monitoring streams and rivers, we think of water, and for a good reason. However, in some parts of the country, many rivers are intermittent—dry at some point in space or time—and therefore have not had equal amounts of attention from ecologists and hydrologists. A project led by a University of Oklahoma (OU) team is working to change that with the help of citizen scientists.
For most humans, mayflies seem like a nuisance, hovering over the waterways as we try to enjoy them. However, for anyone hoping to monitor the health of watersheds, mayflies are important aquatic species—and now, a digital version of the mayfly is helping some scientists keep an eye on the water. Research scientist Dr. Scott Ensign, who serves as Assistant Director of the Stroud Water Research Center, spoke to EM about how the digital mayfly technology developed.
Time is of the essence when it comes to tracking algal blooms, and people everywhere are looking for solutions. In Florida, scientists from Florida Atlantic University Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute (HBOI) recently trialed a solar-powered, algae-tracking sail boat developed by Navocean, Inc. Dr. Jordon Beckler of Florida Atlantic University (FAU) directs HBOI’s Geochemistry and Geochemical Sensing Lab and spoke to EM about the trials and the boat.
For as long as scientists have been studying the ocean, they have been limited by a lack of power. However, recent work from researchers at the University of Washington (UW) offers a promising new way to harvest energy from waves at sea. UW associate professor of mechanical engineering Brian Polagye spoke to EM about a recent project that used wave energy to power one of UW’s Adaptable Monitoring Packages, or AMPs.
To conduct behavioral research on aquatic species especially invertebrates with softer bodies, tagging and tracking has been a persistent challenge. This is particularly true for species which are often elusive in the first instance. Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution research assistant Seth Cones spoke to EM about recent testing of a new sensor and tagging technology that might make this challenge a bit easier.
Even at low doses, emerging contaminants can pose health risks for humans, including disruption of the endocrine system. These emerging contaminants include hormones, personal care products, perfluorinated compounds and volatile organics, and pharmaceuticals. U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) scientist Laura Bexfield presented her work on hormones and pharmaceuticals in groundwater at the 2018 Society for Risk Analysis (SRA) Annual Meeting, and more recently corresponded with EM to discuss the research.
For the past two years, the NOAA Chesapeake Bay Office has been partnering with Fondriest and NexSens to phase out their AXYS data buoy systems with NexSens CB-1250 data buoy systems. Several members of the Fondriest team recently visited and participated in a buoy deployment on the Chesapeake Bay, and Byron F. Kilbourne, an oceanographer at the NOAA Chesapeake Bay Office and liaison for the deployment, spoke to EM about the office, their team, and the buoy change.
In 2014, the Toledo Water Crisis left about 500,000 people without access to safe drinking water for several days. Since that time, the city has been working hard to combat harmful algal blooms (HABs), and so has Dr. Jason Huntley of the University of Toledo. Dr. Huntley spoke to EM about his recent work searching for bacteria that occur naturally in water and are safe for humans—but not for microcystins that cause HABs.
Since the early 1990s, officials in southwestern Ohio have been working to improve the water quality and clarity in Acton Lake. Local farming operations had been producing large amounts of sediment that were draining into the lake’s watershed and filling up the lake. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) instructed local farmers in conservation tillage, which involves plowing the soil less frequently to reduce sediment runoff.