About UM Rosenstiel School

About the University of Miami’s Rosenstiel School The University of Miami is one of the largest private research institutions in the southeastern United States. The University’s mission is to provide quality education, attract and retain outstanding students, support the faculty and their research, and build an endowment for University initiatives. Founded in the 1940’s, the Rosenstiel School of Marine & Atmospheric Science has grown into one of the world’s premier marine and atmospheric research institutions. Offering dynamic interdisciplinary academics, the Rosenstiel School is dedicated to helping communities to better understand the planet, participating in the establishment of environmental policies, and aiding in the improvement of society and quality of life. For more information, please visit www.rsmas.miami.edu.

“Marine Conservation and Anglers: Hypocrites or Heroes?” by Julie Brown

It’s easy for many of us to dismiss the recent public backlash against Walter Palmer, the dentist who killed Cecil the Lion, as an overblown, emotional response. It’s easy to point a finger at poachers, habitat destruction, and climate change as the bigger threat to lion populations. After all, it’s one small drop in a much larger bucket. For me, it was a wakeup call for an introspective look into my own hobbies and commitment to conservation.

I am a graduate student studying billfish conservation in the Eastern Pacific. My arrival to UM’s marine school is, in no small way, due to my passion for fishing. Many, if not most of my colleagues who study fisheries are also passionate anglers. We take any chance we get to hook up into a tarpon, snook, or peacock bass. Florida, with her 1350 miles of coastline, cultivates quite possibly the biggest recreational fishing sector in North America.

Recreational fishing, to put it bluntly, is big business. The state of Florida received $29 million in revenue last year from Fishing Licenses. Saltwater anglers generated $7.6 billion in economic impacts through their direct expenditures on bait, ice, gas, lures, and other gear. And this supported 109,341 jobs in Florida. This means a lot of hooks in the water.

Despite all of this fishing pressure, the recreational sector, in contrast to the commercial sector, is still mostly regulated as open-access. Some anglers rely on fishing to complement their family’s diet. Many anglers, like myself, rarely harvest fish. We enjoy fishing for the solitude, natural beauty, and the chance to engage with powerful animals. Does this ring a bell?

Catch and Release: Here I am with Sphyrna tiburo (the bonnethead shark)

Catch and Release: Here I am with Sphyrna tiburo (the bonnethead shark)

I’m not saying that catch-and-release (C&R) fishing is as bad as shooting a threatened mammal that has been lured off of a reserve. However, there are parallels to be drawn. Many of the species we target are threatened by overfishing or habitat loss. For instance, snook is a species of special concern to Florida because over half of its habitat has been lost to coastal development. Anglers also typically target large, “trophy” fish. Ironically, these are the very same individuals who contribute the most to future generations of their species. The BOFFF (Big Old Fat Fecund Female) hypothesis, which has been proven mostly true, says that large females not only contribute more eggs to spawning activities, but that their offspring are stronger and more likely to survive than offspring from younger fish. So, should we be targeting rare, large fish?

Regardless of the answer, anglers will mostly likely continue to get the most satisfaction out of catching large, rare fish. So, a better question: is it possible for us to regulate ourselves, and follow “best practices” to minimize harm to the fish? This leads us to wonder if a compromise can be reached which not only leaves anglers feeling satisfied (and willing to keep spending money) but also addresses the need to minimize the mortality caused by recreational fishing.

Many activities that C&R anglers practice do indeed increase the chance that a fish will die. Long fight times, and removal of the fish from the water for pictures (air exposure) dramatically increase the stress of the fish. On the other hand, these practices greatly contribute to the gratification of the fishing experience. I can personally attest to the joy one gets from sharing photographs of a beautiful fish, in a beautiful location with friends and family. Pictures or it didn’t happen, right?

I don’t claim to have the answers to the issues I’ve raised here. I do know that scientific studies, which quantify the harm caused by fishing practices, along with identifying species that are most susceptible to stress, will lead us in the right direction. That, combined with some personal commitment and self-control, on the part of the anglers themselves. More and more, my Facebook feed is buzzing with news like the story of Larry Warren, the Idaho fisherman who caught and released a would-be record (28 lbs) rainbow trout. Or Michael Roth, the attorney who released the 120 lb blacktip shark on a fly rod, forgoing the record for this gear. Hopefully, like me, other anglers will be inspired by stories like these, and will begin to place more and more commitment to do whatever we can to protect vulnerable species. After all, who is going to defend them if we don’t ourselves?

–Julie Brown

Julie Brown is pursuing her Ph.D at the University of Miami‘s Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science in Marine Biology & Fisheries. She is currently researching with the Central American Billfish Association.

 

Shifty People

We’ve now been at sea for around two weeks, which means we’ve had that time to get used to our schedules (or for some of us, lack of schedules). Sampling and analysis at sea goes around the clock, with some people working opposite shifts (e.g., noon to midnight and midnight to noon) so there is always someone from each group working in the labs.

In the carbon group, our shifts are staggered so that at least one of us is available for sampling and analysis at all times – day or night. Our shifts are 12 hours long, but the shifts sometimes begin early or end late if we happen to be backlogged and are continuing to sample (sampling never ends on this cruise). My shift begins at 8 in the evening and ends at 8 in the morning, which is the shift that I elected to take. You might think I’m crazy for choosing that shift, but there are a number of reasons why I think it’s the best shift.

Breakfast (served from 6:45-7:45, 7-8 on Sundays)

Breakfast (served from 6:45-7:45, 7-8 on Sundays)

Over the past couple years, I’ve debated with many people about which shift is the best, and for me, breakfast is where it’s at. I’ve heard the argument that breakfast is always the same, but breakfast is always great, so I have no problem with having something consistently great. Working a shift that skips breakfast but includes lunch and dinner means you get more variety (like tasty burgers, fish tacos and salad while it lasts), but while those meals are oftentimes a hit, they have the most potential to be a miss. Breakfast on the other hand, is always amazing. For me, there’s nothing better than stepping out of the carbon van at 6 in the morning and catching a whiff of bacon and eggs being cooked in the galley. In addition to that smell telling me that breakfast is right around the corner, it tells me that my shift is almost over, and to me, there’s nothing better than that.

Sunrise and sunset (taken at 12:16 AM)

Sunrise and sunset (taken at 12:16 AM)

I also get sunrise and sunset during my shift, which is undeniably great. On August 15th, I caught the sun rising over Nome, Alaska, and just yesterday on the 19th I got to watch the sunset morph into a sunrise over about five hours during my shift (pictured above).

Wildlife (like this polar bear from a distance)

Wildlife (like this polar bear from a distance)

I think that animals tend to be most active at dawn and dusk, so I also get to see the Arctic wildlife (but I think everyone on board will get the chance to see a variety of animals during this cruise). I briefly saw a humpback whale towards the end of the first cast of the first station on Aug. 12th, walruses welcoming us to the marginal ice zone on Aug. 18th, and late on the 19th I saw a polar bear from a distance (while others saw two).

We are currently at the second Full station of the cruise (first in the Arctic at 76.5°N, 173°W), and will be continuing northward to some CLIVAR Repeat Hydrography stations later in the day (view station map from And so it begins for reference).

Well that’s it for this week! I’ll try to write one science/cruise post and a life at sea post for you next week! More photos and great stories to come!

–Andrew Margolin

Andrew Margolin is pursuing his Ph.D. at the University of Miami‘s Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science in Marine and Atmospheric Chemistry (MAC) in the Department of Ocean Sciences (OCE) as a National Science Foundation (NSFGraduate Research Fellow.

 

 

 

A turn in the left direction

At the beginning of the cruise, our Chief Scientist, Prof. Dave Kadko, made it known that the sea ice in the Beaufort Sea/Canadian Basin had shifted, becoming thicker, which could affect our northward cruise track. One option given was to stick to the original route that goes northward through the Canadian Basin, returning south on the more western route (a counterclockwise track, following the map from About the Cruise). The alternative option was to do this portion of the cruise backwards (a clockwise track instead), which as it turns out, is what we’ll be doing.

During the science meeting on our first day aboard the Healy, the Coast Guard made it clear that if we went northward on the more eastern route, we may have to turn around before reaching the Pole since breaking through so much thick ice would consume too much fuel and time. On that same day (the 9th), Dave stated that the final decision on the northward route would be made when we arrived at station 7 (blue shelf station just north of 70°N, found on map in And so it begins), which we passed yesterday (the 17th).

Screenshot from my computer with the Healy’s science map server open, with an overlay of sea ice analysis from the National Ice Center (NIC) from the 17th. Our cruise track so far is marked by the red lines, and the Healy’s location as I write this is marked by a red dot and boat outline. To see our current location as you read this, click on the photo.

Screenshot from my computer with the Healy’s science map server open, with an overlay of sea ice analysis from the National Ice Center (NIC) from the 17th. Our cruise track so far is marked by the red lines, and the Healy’s location as I write this is marked by a red dot and boat outline. To see our current location as you read this, click here.

If we had gone east to the Canadian Basin, we would be in thick ice for a longer period of time during the cruise, which would have cost us in fuel, time and sampling.

If we had gone east to the Canadian Basin, we would be in thick ice for a longer period of time during the cruise, which would have cost us in fuel, time and sampling.

Prior to arriving at station 7, the seas picked up and were a little too rough for us to sample the intermediate Chukchi shelf station, so we steamed past it in a north-northwestern direction. If we would have stopped to sample at station 7, sampling would have taken longer (harder to prepare, deploy and recover instruments when it’s rough out), and sampling would have been limited. Our hope now is that we can sample at that location in October if there is still time.

View from the Healy’s webcam above the bridge in the early afternoon of the 17th, when the old station 7 would have occurred. Small waves are pictured, crashing into the bow of the ship, making sea spray.

View from the Healy’s webcam above the bridge in the early afternoon of the 17th, when the old station 7 would have occurred. Small waves are pictured, crashing into the bow of the ship, making sea spray.

We are currently about three hours from the new station 7, which will be the first of thirty-eight Repeat Hydrography stations (or CLIVAR stations on map in And so it begins). The current latitude is 72° 55.476’ N, meaning that we’re north of the Arctic Circle, and in the Northern Domain of the Polar Bear.

Next post will be on our schedules at sea! I have some exciting photos to share, so stay tuned!

–Andrew Margolin

Andrew Margolin is pursuing his Ph.D. at the University of Miami‘s Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science in Marine and Atmospheric Chemistry (MAC) in the Department of Ocean Sciences (OCE) as a National Science Foundation (NSFGraduate Research Fellow.

 

 

A fond farewell

On the morning of the 9th, after having moved onto the Healy the night before, all of us cruise participants woke up in our cozy staterooms to make final preparations to leave port and begin the 2015 U.S. GEOTRACES Arctic Expedition at 1 pm. For the most part, final preparations consisted of organizing and securing our lab spaces, along with securing our bulky science gear that we had to store in the holds. The holds were secured by 1 and most everything in the labs was tied down, so we all went to the forward 02 deck (the deck that directly overlooks the bow) to watch the Coast Guard crew members pull in the ropes before the Healy was tugged away from the dock by two small tugboats. Embarking on long research cruises like this one is always exciting, and it was great to celebrate with so many faces that are just beginning to become familiar. I look forward to getting to know the cruise participants, and I know that this is just the beginning of many great memories to come.

Some of us who gathered on the forward 02 deck to celebrate the beginning of this great cruise.

Some of us who gathered on the forward 02 deck to celebrate the beginning of this great cruise.

After our celebrations, we went to the conference room for the general orientation meeting, where members of the Coast Guard that we’ll be working with introduced themselves and briefed us on their roles on the vessel. Following the Coast Guard introductions, the cruise chief scientist, Dave Kadko, gave us an overview of the science plan for the cruise, noting the ice conditions and the schedule for the next few days.

Dave sharing the current ice conditions and discussing the science plan with the science party and Coast Guard. Captain Jason Hamilton can be seen sitting to the right of the white board.

Dave sharing the current ice conditions and discussing the science plan with the science party and Coast Guard. Captain Jason Hamilton can be seen sitting to the right of the white board.

Following the meeting, we had abandon ship and man overboard drills (typical for the first day of research cruises), which are always an interesting way to get to know each other and to get to know the ship.

Trying on our survival suits in the helo hanger

Trying on our survival suits in the helo hanger

After having our science meetings and safety drills, all 145 of us (51 are scientists) were ready for a tasty dinner (with salad while it lasts!), and were prepared to spend two months at sea.

One of our last views of land as we left the waters of Unalaska and entered the Bering Sea.

One of our last views of land as we left the waters of Unalaska and entered the Bering Sea.

 

My next post will be on the carbon van, which Ryan, Fen and I have organized beautifully!

-Andrew Margolin

Andrew Margolin is pursuing his Ph.D. at the University of Miami‘s Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science in Marine and Atmospheric Chemistry (MAC) in the Department of Ocean Sciences (OCE) as a National Science Foundation (NSFGraduate Research Fellow.

Professor Discusses Future of Extreme Weather Research

 

Professor Sharan Majumdar

Professor Sharan Majumdar

Professor of Atmospheric Sciences Sharan Majumdar recently penned an article on the future of research aimed at improving predictions of and responses to high-impact weather events. Published in the March issue of the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, the flagship journal of the American Meteorology Society, Majumdar and colleagues discuss the post-THORPEX (The Observing System Research and Predictability Experiment) scientific research planning efforts.

Radar image of Tropical Cyclone Isaac

Radar image of Tropical Cyclone Isaac

THORPEX, a 10-year research and development program organized under the World Meteorological Organization (WMO)/World Weather Research Programme (WWRP), was designed to accelerate improvements in the accuracy and use of 1-day to 2-week numerical weather predictions and concluded in 2014.

“We are planning out the next decade(s) of national and international research with big ideas and broad goals,” said Sharan Majumdar, who was put in charge of steering the initiative. “One important element is to define our national goals, such as improving responses to flash floods, or multi-hazard problems in big cities like New York.”

According to the authors, the “proposed new U.S. high-impact weather research initiative promises significant benefits for the nation in terms of research advances that will directly benefit the entire weather enterprise in reducing loss of life and property.” Read more

 

UM professor co-authors influential climate change paper

Professor Brian Soden

Professor Brian Soden

Professor Brian Soden’s 2006 paper is “one of most influential climate change papers of all time.

The Carbon Brief recently asked climate experts what they think are the most influential papers. In joint second place was a paper by Isaac Held (NOAA) and UM Rosenstiel School’s Professor of Atmospheric Sciences Brian Soden published in the Journal of Climate in 2006.

The paper, “Robust Responses of the Hydrological Cycle to Global Warming,” identified how rainfall from one place to another would be affected by climate change. Prof Sherwood, who nominated this paper, tells Carbon Brief why it represented an important step forward. He says:

“[This paper] advanced what is known as the “wet-get-wetter, dry-get-drier” paradigm for precipitation in global warming. This mantra has been widely misunderstood and misapplied, but was the first and perhaps still the only systematic conclusion about regional precipitation and global warming based on robust physical understanding of the atmosphere.”

The Carbon Brief reports on the latest developments and media coverage of climate science and energy policy, with a particular focus on the UK. They produce news coverage, analysis and factchecks. Read more